Balintore Castle, located in the landscape of Angus, Scotland is a historical monument that has recently undergone a restoration project to preserve the historical building.
Local authorities Angus Council arranged for the overhaul to take place by securing a contract with the latest owner.
Built in 1859-1865, William Burn (1789-1870) was the person to thank for constructing such a beautiful work of history on the site of an old tower-house. Created from red sandstone sourced from Stirlingshire, the castle comprises two principle floors with a sizeable basement and attic, and a separate kitchen wing to north. Mounted above the main building is the entrance tower, with a stair tower leading to a further storey ahead.
The house was built for David Lyon, a politician who had inherited a fortune made through the East India Company. The plan was for David to live in the mansion for two years before it passed to his brother Major William Lyon. The house was then occupied by another male and then following that, a family with the surname Lyell. At the time it was Lady Lyell’s role to install water-powered turbine to run electric lighting.
Most recently Balintore was utilised as a shooting lodge, but due to dry-rot appearing it became uninhabited in the 1960’s. The building was then A-listed since 1980 and placed on the Building at Risk register; subsequently the house was obtained by the local authority in 2007 and sold to David Johnston on the condition that it was restored.
The carpentry skills of Bill Pitt and his team enabled seven of the castle’s principle floor windows to be replaced. These windows include all of the principle floor windows except those that make up the dining room’s oriel window. Despite a sturdy structure, the stylish oriel window collapsed 16 years ago and therefore would require renovation before any plans to re-manufacture the three component sash windows could commence.
The sash windows on the principle floor are very large in size, the biggest in the castle in fact. It took five people to carry each window from the van to the drawing room, where they were sat waiting to be installed. The selected new windows were chosen to replace the old ones in order to brighten up the castle’s interior in addition to maintaining the elegance of the building.
In addition to the refurbished windows, the north-east turret of Balintore had its final topping out, involving new slating from the bottom to the top of the turret by nailing on hundreds of fish-scale slates that were carved to replace those that were broken or missing.
Balintore integrates many distinguished features on offer including Jacobean chimney-stacks, early French Renaissance scrolled dormer-heads, pepper-pot turrets and crow-stepped gables. The majority of the original fabric of the building has unfortunately undergone deterioration due to collapsed floors, walls and sections of roof.
Despite the decaying interior of the mansion, the remains of Jacobean-style plaster ceilings can still be seen, as well as the numerous quirky and charming features that the building still offers. There still remains a sense of heritage and allure about Balintore.
Boasting 50 plus rooms, the castle once featured a dining room, drawing room, library, saloon and a double-height Great Hall, with a canted-bay window offering pleasant views across the valley. Additionally there was a women servant’s sitting room, dinner service room, brushing room, beer cellar, lumber room and butler’s pantry.
Interestingly a recent discovery of an 1838 silver groat coin was revealed from under the floorboards, curiously predating the construction of Balintore Castle in 1860. It seems perhaps the coin was in circulation for at least 22 years before being lost, most likely during the building phase. Queen Victoria appears on the face of the coin, looking rather young, only having come into power the year previous, 1837. Worth a mere 4d in old currency or 1.6p in new, the charming little treasure was a fascinating find.