Thursday, 9 July 2020

Craigdun Castle


TORQUIL MacNEILL, chief of the Clan Neill, of Taynish and Gigha, born ca 1380, was constable of Castle Sween, in Knapdale, Argyllshire.

LACHLAN McNEILL, of Terfergus and Losset, Argyllshire, fourth son of Torquil MacNeill, married firstly, Mary McNeill, of Colonsay, and had a large family.

The third son,

NEILL McNEILL, settled in Cushendun, County Antrim, about 1676, and married Rose Stuart, of Garry, in the same county, and was father of

LACHLAN McNEILL, who wedded Jane Macnaghten, of Benvarden, and had several children, of whom the eldest son, 

NEILL McNEILL, of Cushendun, County Antrim, espoused Christian Hamilton, of Londonderry, and was father of

EDMUND McNEILL, of Cushendun, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Hamilton, of Londonderry, and died in 1790.

The eldest son,

EDMUND ALEXANDER McNEILL JP (1787-1879), of Cushendun, County Antrim, married, in 1817, Rose, eldest daughter of Alexander McNeile, and had an only son,

EDMUND McNEILL JP DL (1821-1915), of Craigdun and Cushendun, County Antrim, High Sheriff, 1879, who married, in 1851, Mary, eldest daughter of Alexander Miller, of Ballycastle, and had issue,  

©National Portrait Gallery, London


CRAIGDUN CASTLE, near Cullybackey, County Antrim, is a Victorian-Baronial style house built of basalt, in 1867, by Edward (Eddie) McNeill.

It comprises two storeys with a gabled attic.

There is a substantial five-storey tower with pepper-pot bartizans.

The drawing-room is notable for its Classical plasterwork ceiling.

The house is said to have thirty rooms in total.

Craigdun Castle is believed to have been designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, who was responsible for many of Northern Ireland’s best known Victorian buildings, including Belfast Castle and Ballywalter House.

The Scottish baronial architecture was a fashionable style of the period, incorporating crow step gables and conical turrets and mock defensive features such as crenellations and arrow slits.

The McNeills owned 609 acres in County Antrim during the 19th century.

Although their original seat was Glenmona House, Cushendun, which was increasingly used for holidays, the family tended to reside at Craigdun.

Today Craigdun comprises a more manageable ten acres.

In 1912, the estate was purchased by a Belfast man, John Percy Stott, and it passed to his daughter Doreen on his death in 1949.

Upon the death of her son, Peter Stott-Martin, from Multiple Sclerosis in 1952, she and her husband, Commander Stott-Martin, bequeathed the castle to the National Health Service as a respite care home for MS sufferers.

Much work was carried out during the 1960-80s, including many internal alterations for the installation of a lift in the early 1980s.

The NHS sold the castle in the early 1990s. William and Romayne Baird owned Craigdun for nine years, till it was bought by Andrew Clark in 2002.

Andrew and Julie Clark were married at Craigdun in 2010 and together they restored the building into a comfortable family home, which featured in the final of the BBC House of the Year programme in 2011.

Craigdun Castle itself remained a private family home, though the walled garden and grounds could be hired as a venue for marquee weddings, receptions and photographs.

The gardens are associated in the past with the early 17th century Craigs Castle.

There are fine mature trees in the shelter belts and parkland, including exotics.

A champion parkland sycamore has a circumference of eleven yards at the base.

The walled garden is adjacent to the house and has a circular pavilion, with a conical slated roof, in one corner.

The two gate-lodges have been demolished.

First published in July, 2012.


Anonymous said...

It was actually the late Willie Baird who transformed the NHS home - complete with chip board nailed to the floors, strip lighting and wash hand basins in the Reception rooms - back to its former glory as a residence.
The Clarks continued his work.

Angie Hincks said...

Well said.. that was my father and mother Willie and Romayne Baird who did the initial hard work on the house transforming it into a residential home and I'm glad they are not forgotten

Anonymous said...

Now for sale for £795k with 10 acres -

Lynda McCartney said...

My Dad was responsible for updating the gardens in 2011. He did his apprenticeship many years ago at Craigdun so could recall them in their original state. To be asked to breathe life into them again 40 + years later was magical for him. Craigdun was one of his favourite places and it’s where I feel closest to him now that he’s died

Anonymous said...

Who owns it now? Is it a private family home?

Anonymous said...

Yes a family home