Plans to take Castle Toward estate into community ownership have hit the buffers.
The Castle is situated at the end of the Cowal peninsular a few miles from the seaside town of Dunoon. It commands extensive views over the Firth of Clyde and stands within extensive policies, now much overgrown.
Top: Toward Castle's show façade Bottom: Entrance porch
The 143-acre estate includes two castles: the Gothic castle of 1820 and the earlier medieval castle of Clan Lamont.
The former was built as a holiday home by a Provost of Glasgow in the castellated style popular in late Georgian times. It was extended in the 1920s by the Coats family of Paisley, famous for thier thread mills, who also landscaped the grounds.
During the war, Toward was acquired for military training and afterwards purchased by Glasgow Corporation for use as an educational centre. In 1996, control passed to Argyll and Bute Council who closed it in 2009, on the advice of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service, and put up for sale.
Bids came to nothing. It was again placed on the market in 2014 and an offer from a community group refused as ‘below market value’. The group had hoped that the local authority would sell at less than the asking price of £1.75 million - instead the authority offered the community a commercial loan with interest. They declined and the future of the estate is still uncertain.
Old Castle Toward stands some 500 meters from the new. It is a 15th century tower house with substantial remains of a barmkin wall. The whole is much tumbled and surrounded by woodland. The tower rises complete from 2 sides to a corbelled wall head but elsewhere has fallen to the vaulted first floor level where the original doorway still can be seen.
Tower house and arch of courtyard kitchen fireplace
The courtyard is a rare survival and sports a most attractive gatehouse.
Left: Gatehouse with cable moulding, draw bar and shot holes Right: Castle from the road
Toward was the seat of the Clan Lamont but was abandoned and left to ruin after a seige, capture and massacre of the garrison, by the Clan Campbell in 1646. A monument in Dunoon commenorates the event.
Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle