Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

So on Saturday, I went with the International Student Centre to their final trip of the semester, to an out-of-the-way 18th-century palace perched atop a cliff on the Ayrshire coast (south of Glasgow), which is surrounded by a decent-sized forest interspersed with some gardens and follies influenced by the Picturesque movement. Rather than tell you every detail of my trip – since really you have to explore it yourself, and almost every nook and cranny there was worth exploring – I’ll just whack up some photos and throw out some interesting facts that I picked up along the way, through the guided tour of the castle itself (converted from a medieval tower house into a summer home and then a palace) and by reading various information cards scattered across the property.
Interesting Facts
1. ‘Culzean’ is apparently pronounced ‘cullain’ because the Scots make loads of sense
2. There is a luxury hotel on the top floor, where for an undisclosed amount you can stay in the same room as Dwight Eisenhower
3. On a clear day, you can see Ireland, 85km away
4. Mirrors were all over the place in old homes not so that people could fix their enormous wigs but so that candlelight would be reflected around the room
5. It was a common thing for nobles to go on a Grand Tour of Europe as young people, usually picking up exotic arts and fancy portraits; so often much so that one Italian artist had a set of template bodies you could select from and have your head and hands painted onto – and apparently the fashion then was to look fat, so the template portrait of one of the lords of the castle is considerably fatter than one painted from life
6. This castle contains cannons used as a coastal defence against the possibility of Napoleon sailing around to the opposite side of the UK to attack the west coast of Scotland; and a portrait of him – apparently stolen as a souvenir after he was defeated
7. For centuries, noble boys were raised in girls’ clothing, not because the 18th century was weird like that but to prevent kidnapping of the heirs – since girls apparently didn’t get kidnapped
8. Fun labour-saving trick – install a windmill in the chimney driven by rising smoke and use that to turn the spit roasting a delicious pig in front of the fire! Thanks, Culzean Castle Kitchens!
9. Scots were titans in the gardening trade during the 18th and 19th century, where they made up the vast majority of head gardeners on estates throughout the UK and were found running the show as far away as Russia
10. Turns out maps of country houses, even those administered by the National Trust and carefully cultivated, routinely cut their maps of the tracks off well before the tracks actually end, so you can end up in some very interesting and increasingly muddy forests without having a clue where you are, before they suddenly emerge onto stunning cliff views, which seem like they would be on the map but still definitely aren’t
11. When they made fancy houses, they would put a plaster trimming on the skirting board, with something that suggests what the room is for – dining rooms had a pattern of grapes, drawing rooms gryphons having a chat and a quiet game of cards. Guess what they put on bedrooms? Yep, that’s right: opium poppies.
12. With the right technology, you can grow grapes in Scotland, and they will be famed for, oh, at least a whole kilometre around.
Not happy about getting up early
View of the castle and main lawn
Yup, it really is literally on a cliff
Obligatory just-got-rained-on-but-still-at-a-castle-this-is-awesome selfie
Just some casual archery – you go, National Trust employees!
Apparently the 18th century thinks it’s cool to collect enormous quantities of decommissioned weapons and hang them in patterns on the walls
Hmmm…I suppose it’s not the worst…
Okay, this is awesome.
Casual Italian art for the roof
I hate it when they mix Corinthian and Ionic columns – I didn’t even show the Doric columns below because I was so disgusted
An enormous carpet that takes 15 men to lift (which they do regularly, turn it 90 degrees and replace it to create even wear)? Sure! Back up the wagon!
Good thing I went to the pope and got this letter saying me and 50 of my friends get out of purgatory
A very early full-body shower/bath combo, and the first I’ve seen located deliberately in a thoroughfare open for all to marvel at
That’s a poor effort to be honest
This tower just looks way too much like a chessman. Also another typical Scottish beach
I must say, this is a heck of a greenhouse.


This garden is just like Mariokart
Definitely medium lost right now
Ahhh, false alarm. Look! Ducks! A pagoda!


The benefits of getting lost twice on the same day
This sneaky unknown track reminds me so much of the path up to Pillar Point at Wilson’s Prom! Same bare, creepy trees; even narrower and more muddy path; much less idea where I’m going; slightly higher fear of plunging to my death
Okay no more creepy trees, back to ducks. Nice ducks.
Pagoda, cannons, and Ireland in the distance…perfect way to end. Also, those cannon slots look like butts. Hehe
The same selfie as before…except this time it’s sunny! Hurrah!
Goodnight everyone!

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