MacLellan’s Castle, Kirkcudbright – Clan MacLellan
Originally used as a convent, the site of MacLellan’s Castle would be purchased by Sir Thomas MacLellan in 1569 and turned into a stately home.
Constructed in 1449, the Convent of Greyfriars would stand on the site until its abandonment during the reformation of 1560. It is then that Sir Thomas would step in, purchasing the land for himself and demolishing the building to make way for his own home. Using stone from the previous structure, he would take almost 15 years to build the castle – which would be one of Scotland’s grandest houses upon its completion.
Built to demonstrate the power of the clan, Sir Thomas would use the castle as a way to convey his dominance over the area as he sought to grow his position within the Scottish nobility. He would do this successfully, rising to a position within the Royal Household in 1580, which he would hold until passing the MacLellan chiefship onto his son, Robert.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Robert would continue to increase the stature of the family and would be promoted to the title of Lord Kirkcudbright in the 1630s. Despite his lofty ambitions, Robert would also be no stranger to controversy, being imprisoned in his younger days for shooting a man in Kirkcudbright with whom had had a longstanding feud.
Continuing the tradition of trying to increase the family standings, Robert’s successor, the 2nd Lord, would drain the family bank account as he attempted to expand his influence into Ireland, obtaining land grants that he could not afford.
Following this mishap, the family’s stature would decrease for the first time in over a century as they then began to focus on the Castle and its surrounding area in southern Scotland. Sadly, the downward spiral would continue over the next hundred years and the castle would be removed from the care of the MacLellans in 1742. It would eventually fall under the control of Historic Environment Scotland in 1912 and it is now looked after by the organisation as they have turned it into an attraction open to the public. An unusual building, it is unique to other Scottish castles as it has no scars of war or signs of remodelling and is almost exactly the same shape as when it was originally built.