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Breachacha Castle

A Category A Listed Building in Oban South and the Isles, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.5917 / 56°35'30"N

Longitude: -6.6297 / 6°37'46"W

OS Eastings: 115896

OS Northings: 754014

OS Grid: NM158540

Mapcode National: GBR BC09.B3Q

Mapcode Global: WGX9N.4L82

Entry Name: Breachacha Castle

Listing Date: 20 July 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 335990

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB4709

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Coll

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban South and the Isles

Parish: Coll

Traditional County: Argyllshire

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Description

1750; additions and alterations 1856, and later additions. 4-storey, 3-bay, symmetrical, square-plan, piended-roof, Gothick-Baronial castle linked to 2-storey, 3-bay pavilions by quadrant walls with blind Venetian windows. Crenellated wallheads, corner bartizans, floral plaque to central raised section of S parapet. Later 19th century red sandstone gabled porch to North with corner bartizans and ball stone finials. Rendered rubble walls; raised ashlar quoins to main (S) elevation; margined quoins to rear. Margined window surrounds. Mould door surround to S door.

Plate glass timber sash and case windows. Grey slate roof with leaded flat sections. Corniced rectangular ashlar stacks with plain clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: elements of interior decorative scheme survive, but most internal finishes lost and majority of internal walls stripped to bare stonework. Stone staircase with dado panelling and cast-iron balustrade to second floor, later timber stair over existing to 3rd floor. Chimneypieces to first floor principal rooms. 4-panel timber doors to 3rd floor. Timber panelled shutters. 18th century entrance stairs in evidence under the later 19th century porch addition.

EAST WING: poor condition (2007), former kitchen and laundry wing. Timber stairs to first floor. Remnants of limewash to interior of 18th century quadrant wall. Sandstone flags to original section and terracotta flags to later addition. Timber-boarded partitions; chimneypieces; metal-lined timber moth box.

WEST WING: open to 2 storeys with timber partition, currently used as workshop. Tall rubble wall enclosing courtyard area.

Statement of Interest

A-Group with Old Breachacha Castle and Breachacha Steading (see separate listings).

Breachacha Castle is a prominent mid 18th country house that was baronialised in the mid 19th century and forms a strong and tightly-knit group with the associated 15th century old castle and the adjacent Breachacha Steading. Together these buildings form a remarkable set-piece: the new castle positioned so that the old castle is visible from it, and then remodelled to reflect its architecture; the steading designed to match. The existence of this group in such a remote island setting makes it all the more exceptional.

The house was built in 1750 by Hector Maclean 13th Laird of Coll to replace the neighbouring 15th century Old Breachacha Castle. As first constructed it was an astylar classical, 3-storey, piended roof villa linked to a pair of small square-plan pavilions by quadrant walls. When visiting in 1773 Boswell and Johnson found this 'new-built gentleman's house' a mere tradesman's box'.

In 1856 the building underwent major improvements when it, together with the whole island, was bought by John Lorne Stewart. A fourth storey was added to the main house, its windows were enlarged and the pavilions extended. The work was executed in a Gothick-Baronial style with crenellated parapets and bartizan turrets. This style, which was being superseded in southern parts of Scotland by a more scholarly form of Baronial detailing, continued to be popular in the Highlands through the mid 19th century. The gabled porch to the north elevation was added in the late 19th century, at which point internal remodelling was also carried out.

The relationship between this house and old castle is particularly interesting and reflects the changing attitudes towards historic architecture in the 18th and 19th centuries. The house, as built in 1750, followed the neo-Palladian style that was fashionable at the time. The old castle was retained as an historic feature in the landscape; the new house positioned so that the old one was visible from the windows (but only if one stands right by the window ' the view of it does not intrude). A hundred years later neo-Palladian architecture had fallen out of fashion, and the house was remodelled to emulate the architecture of the older building ' the stark contrast between the old and new presumably no longer felt to be acceptable and the historical style perhaps also chosen to help legitimise the new laird's position.

The building lay empty from the 1930s until the 1980s during which period many of the internal fixtures and fittings were removed for use in other buildings on the island.

Late 19th century accretions of a forestair to E elevation and a 1936 South porch were both removed in 1990s at which point the roof of main house was also repaired. The blocked 1st floor S window was opened up and the 1750 date stone removed, now lying broken in garden (2007). The majority of rooms on the upper floors have now been stripped back to their bare stone walls. The panelling from the dining room to the SE corner 1st floor was also removed and believed to now be installed in Cliad farmhouse to the north of the Island.

List description revised and category upgraded to A, 2008.

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