Castle Kennedy was an early seventeenth century Tower House that replaced an earlier structure. A serious fire gutted the castle in 1716 and it was never rebuilt although the gardens around the structure were maintained. Between 1864-7 a large manorial house, known as Lochinch Castle, was built in the grounds.
There was some form of fortification on the site of Castle Kennedy since at least the fifteenth century for it was mentioned in a record dated 1482. Little is known about this structure and it was either demolished or incorporated into a new Tower House that was built in 1607. This is the structure visible today but, when constructed, it was situated on an island in Loch Inch. Subsequent drainage now means the castle is now found on a neck of land whilst the water itself is two separate and distinct bodies; White and Black Lochs.
The four-storey Tower House was laid out in a rectangular configuration with additional wings being added later. The main block consisted of a single chamber at each level with the accommodation within the two wings. The structure was purchased by John Hamilton, Lord of Bargany in the mid seventeenth century and in 1677 passed to Sir James Dalrymple of Stair through his marriage with Margaret Ross. Sir James was a distinguished lawyer who was appointed President of the Court of Session in 1671. He was created Viscount Stair in 1690 but died 5 years later. He was followed by his son, Field Marshall John Dalrymple, who laid out the formal gardens surrounding the castle after being impressed by the arrangements at the Palace of Versailles during his service as ambassador in France. The work was conducted by the forces assigned to his Command - men of the Royal Scots Greys and the Inniskilling Fusiliers - who had been deployed to the area to suppress the Covenanters. It is possible that John Dalrymple himself had Covenanter sympathies and that his employment of his troops in the landscaping of his garden was a deliberate diversion of their focus away from the mission.
Disaster struck the castle in 1716 when it was destroyed by fire. John Dalrymple returned from one of his visits to France unexpectedly prompting a servant to attempt to dry out his bedding in front of an open fire. It caught light and the subsequent blaze gutted the castle. The family moved their main residence to Culhorn near Stranraer and they chose not to restore Castle Kennedy although work continued on development of the gardens.
After John's death in 1747, both the ruined castle and the formal gardens were neglected. However in 1864 John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair started work on a mansion house 500 metres to the north-west. Known as Lochinch Castle it was completed in 1867 and remains a private residence today. However the ruins of the former castle, along with the superb gardens, are open to the public.
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The exterior of the Tower House can be viewed as part of Castle Kennedy Gardens although the ruinous structure itself cannot be entered. The ruins are set within beautiful and well maintained grounds. Visitors can take a short walk to view Lochinch Castle although there is no internal access as it remains a private residence.
Black Loch. Originally Castle Kennedy was on an island within Lochinch. Subsequent drainage has seen the water drop and it is now two distinct bodies of water: Black Lock and White Loch.
Lochinch Castle. Built between 1864-7, Lochinch Castle is actually a mansion house.
Castle Kennedy Gardens is a tourist attraction and is accessed off the A75 approximately 3 miles east of Stranraer. The entrance to the estate is sign-posted and there is a dedicated car park for visitors.
Estate Access / Parking
Castle Kennedy Gardens