Locales > Scotland
Rum is an island with a turbulent past, amazing scenery and Kinloch Castle. I had wanted to go for ages and when we eventually made it at the third attempt I was wowed.
Mythic Pleasure Palace
Here we are on the Cal Mac ferry from Mallaig to the Isle of Rum – we are going to see a building which for me has taken on mythic status. The building is Kinloch castle - which is actually a hunting lodge - built by a fabulously rich Englishman called George Bullough in 3 years from 1897.
There it is in the distance - a dark shape emerging from the mist – Kinloch Castle – the Victorian Hunting Lodge on the Isle of Rum.
The tales of the construction of Kinloch Castle construction are legendary. It is built of sandstone which was mined on the Isle of Arran and shipped in
- It had 250,000 tons of soil imported
- It was built by 300 workmen who were paid a 5% extra to wear kilts
- They were given extra tobacco to ward off midges and paid to smoke it
- There were guest rooms for 20 or 30 but servants quarters for 100
- It had modern plumbing including air flow control in the billiard room
- It had double glazing
- It had electricity from the start and a telephone
- It had an orchestrion that mimicked an entire orchestra
It had a swimming pool, a squash court, a tennis court, a bowling green and a nine hole golf course
It had Hot houses that housed alligators, turtles and humming birds and grew grapes, peaches and figs
It had Japanese garden, a formal garden and a fernery
They built roads to test out the fleet of Albion cars that were on the island.
It cost £250,000 to build in 1900 hundred money which is the equivalent of £30million today
When you hear all that you just have to visit
It is now owned by Scottish National Heritage and they do 45 minute tours of a few rooms for £9.00 timed to meet the CalMac ferry on a Monday and Wednesday.
So let’s take the tour
So we are in the grand hall. It’s a wood panelled, twin height space with a minstrels gallery. complete with sporting trophy’s, objects from Japan, and paintings. It’s all overseen by a picture of George Bullough painted for his 40th birthday in 1910. He wears all of the clothes of a Scottish lord – although he was completely English. His life revolved around the gentlemanly pursuits of hunting fishing and shooting not to mention spending on a massive scale.
Directly below this picture is his wife’s Monica who was born in 1869. She was a socialite from French extraction and was famously uninhibited. She was divorced from a brewing magnate where George was cited in the proceedings. They married on Rum in 1903 and had a daughter Hermione in 1906.
Many of the objects on display were imported by George after his prolonged stay in Japan. We have it on good authority that the prolonged absence and tour was a required result of Georges inappropriate involvement with his step mother.
The tour takes us into the dining room which is in many ways a tribute to George’s first steam yacht the 221 foot Rhouma which he bought in 1895. He sailed extensively in the yacht with it’s crew of 40 During the Boer war he turned it into a hospital ship for which he was knighted. Eventually he sold it as a hulk to the Italian government in 1912. The furniture comes from the ship and the paintings depict it. In 1913 he bought another smaller yacht which is still in existence. It is now renamed as the Madiz and up for sale for about £7m. It is stunning.
We arrive at the ballroom. It is designed for ultimate privacy – drinks are served through a hatch, the band plays behind curtains and the windows are too high to look into. This is where ladies of the night were brought from Glasgow for the viewing pleasure of the gentlemen.
The tour takes us to Monica’s bedroom. This is where she is said to have bestowed her favours on many a man, including it is strongly rumoured King Edward the 7th. It is bizarre to see her nude portrait sipping tea on a rug outside the room but the rumours have it this was just a foretaste of the erotic prints that decorated the room.
Then we are back into the corridor and on our way out – our 45 minutes have elapsed.
What Didn’t We See?
There is a lot which we didn’t see – presumably because of the state of repair of the building. So by the wonders of the internet here are two of the rooms we didn’t see - the library and the billiards room
The Bullough Mausoleum
George decided that his father John who had died in 1891, when George was 21 should be reburied on the Island of Rum. This meant taking his body from the family crypt in Acccrington to the Island by train. This despite the fact that John had expressed his wishes to be buried there. The coffin was transported by train and steamer to the island where it was interred in a mausoleum built for the purpose.
However a visiting journalist commented that the tiled mausoleum looked like a public lavatory and George promptly had it dynamited. He then placed the coffin in a new sarcophagus in a magnificent mausoleum built out oif polished sandstone in the form of a Greek temple. It is in a magnificent location facing the ocean. Eventually both George and Monica were interred in separate sarcophagi and the 3 lie together facing the storms.
Whatever Happened To The Animals?
The humming birds froze when the heat in a hot house failed – they were stuffed and remain as an exhibit today.
The turtles were let back into the sea by George where they promptly disappeared.
And the Alligator escaped, frightened the guests and was shot by George.
At the moment Kinloch Castle hangs between complete dereliction and restoration whiuch gives it an amazing ambience – a vibe if you will. It is a testament to George Bullogh – the Edwardian millionaire who delivered his dream. Visit soon!