The Scottish Castles Association announced the name of the 2002 recipient of the prestigious "Nigel Tranter Memorial Award" at its Annual General Meeting held in Aikwood Tower by Selkirk on Saturday 19th of April. The award is given to the individual who is thought to have made the greatest contribution to Scottish Castles during the previous year.
A large turnout of the association membership who were participating in the SCA "Borders Castles Tour" had assembled at President David Steel's home for the AGM and dinner. SCA Chairman Hazel Hunter, of Ochiltree Castle, led the proceedings and announced that the selection committee had nominated Edinburgh based Nicholas Groves-Raines for his work as architect and lead professional on the reconstruction and restoration of Fenton Tower near North Berwick.
The selection committee had given due consideration to several candidates. After approaching the enlightened owner of Fenton they were invited to visit the tower to examine the finished project. The quality of the workmanship and materials together with the sympathetic design of the interior convinced the committee of its merit. It has been restored with the approval of Historic Scotland, who not only gave consent but also provided financial grant support, as they felt that Fenton "did not have strong cultural associations as a ruin (unlike Castle Tioram), - its archaeology was found to be virtually nil, - its reconstruction was considered acceptable".
Fenton was a roofless shell in the late 1880's when McGibbon and Ross visited. It has now been rescued and transformed, serving as a wonderful example of how a ruin can have a new life. The fabric of the structure has been protected and it now stands proudly in its own landscape. Nicholas Groves-Raines was involved in the restoration of his own Liberton House in Edinburgh and has more recently had commissions that include Bankton House in East Lothian, St Andrews in the Square Glasgow, and a newbuild modern interpretation of a Palladian Villa, Globush House in County Fermanagh Ireland.
This year's award has a particular association with our previous President Nigel Tranter as the ruined Fenton stood in East Lothian close by his Aberlady home. Nigel was our host some years ago when we visited Fenton (pictured with Editor). At that time he explained that he was advocating its rescue. He would have been very happy and proud to see the transformation that Nicholas Groves-Raines has facilitated. Hazel Hunter presented Nicholas with the SCA award plaque and a replica "Morion" (16th century helmet) which will be a lasting memento of the appreciation of the Scottish Castles Association.
Fenton lies south of North Berwick in East-Lothian and close by the village of Kingston. The typical 16th Century structure is "A" listed. It was built in 1550 for Patrick Whytelaw, son of Lord Ruthven. In 1587 Fenton passed to Sir John Carmichael. In 1591 King James VI crossed the Firth of Forth and stayed here to escape an attempt to usurp his power. The King later gifted Fenton to his friend Sir Thomas Erskine who became Lord Direlton in 1604, then Vicount Fenton in 1606 and finally Earl of Kellie in 1619. In 1631 the property passed to Sir john Maxwell of Innerwick who became Earl of Dirleton in 1646. Fenton was slighted by the Cromwellian army in 1650. In 1663 the ruin became the property of the Nisbets of Dirleton and Archerfield. The Simpson family owned Fenton in 1850.
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