Culzean Castle (pronounced ‘Cul-lane’) on the Ayrshire coast is the most visited property of the National Trust for Scotland. Built in the late sixteenth century above a network of caves, the castle became a center for smuggling during the eighteenth century. Sir Thomas Kennedy, 9th Earl of Cassillis, went on an extended grand tour in the 1750s and returned full of ideas as to how to improve his vast estates and home. His brother and heir commissioned Robert Adam to create his masterpiece and became bankrupt as a result.
He instructed the architect Robert Adam to rebuild a previous, but more basic, structure into a fine country house to be the seat of his earldom. The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments.
The estate was rescued when wealthy American cousins (the Kennedy’s of Massachusetts) inherited it in 1792. In 1945, the Kennedy family then gave the castle and its grounds to the National Trust for Scotland (thus avoiding inheritance tax). In doing so, they stipulated that the apartment at the top of the castle be given to General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. The General first visited Culzean Castle in 1946 and stayed there four times, including once while President of the United States. An Eisenhower exhibition occupies one of the rooms, with mementos of his lifetime.
The Eisnehower Apartment — The Eisenhower Suite comprises a large bedroom with a king size double bed, dressing-room and bathroom en-suite.
The castle then opened to the public in April 2011 after a refurbishment funded by a grant from the wealthy American millionaire, William Lindsay, who had never even visited Scotland, on the condition that a significant portion of his $4 million gift go towards Culzean. Lindsay was reportedly interested in Eisenhower’s holidays at the castle.
The Kennedy Apartment — The Kennedy Room comprises a large bedroom with super-king double bed (which can be split to twin single beds, if required, as shown) and a comfortable seating area. Although not en-suite, it has a separate, private bathroom just across the corridor (bathrobes are provided).
No one knows exactly how many ghosts haunt the castle, but many people have reported encounters with at least seven spirits there, including a piper and a servant girl. These two ghosts appear to be the most common experiences, and it is said that a ghostly piper can be heard playing his bag pipes on castle grounds. Rumor has it that he plays to the celebration of the clan family members marriages.
Another popular encounter reported by many, is the figure of a women wearing a ball gown and is often seen wandering the castle grounds or its long corridors. As well as unrelated reports of people and staff seeing a misty, ghostly shape of a person walking around the dungeon area and stair wells, it is not known if this is the same woman on the grounds or not.
In 2002, the television team of Most Haunted, led by Yvette Fielding, Karl Beattie and medium Derek Acorah investigated Culzean Castle in an effort to determine if there was any credence to the paranormal stories and reported sightings of ghosts at the castle. That episode was produced in their first broadcast series and presented on Living TV.
When Derek Acorah of Most Haunted arrived on site for filming he had taken the crew straight to the most haunted room in the house, the Earl’s bedroom, where he immediately witnessed a ghost. Then later, while walking around Derek heard the bagpipes begin to play and reveals to the crew the name of the legendary piper! Later in the Earl’s bedroom, flashes of light on a painting spook Marcel, and Yvette attempts to coax the lady spirit of Cassallis to show herself on camera. Here’s that episode…
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