Photographs Of Castle Menzies
the fourteenth century the lands around Weem were part of the
extensive possessions of the Chiefs of Clan Menzies and it was
here in 1488 that following the destruction by the fire of the
Menzies stronghold, Comrie Castle (The ruins of a later replacement
of which are 4 miles west of Weem It became the seat of the
cadet branch), Sir Robert Menzies built a new mansion, the "Place
of Weem". .
new building however was soon to suffer a similar fate to the
previous residence for in 1502 it was pillaged and burned by
Neil Stewart of Garth. Subsequently a new castle, the older
part of the present structure was erected, whether it was built
on the remains, or site, of the earlier castle as has been suggested
is till uncertain as also is the exact date of construction.
1577 the upper storey and roof were altered and the series of
dormers with their elaborate pediments which are a distinctive
feature of the building then added. The date is carved on one
of the dormers and it is recorded in the "Chronicle of
Fortingall" - 1577; "Item - Thar symmyr the Castle
of Weym was byggth and ended". The castle, thus completed
is considered and excellent example of an early mature Z-plan
building representing the transition between the older type
of fortified tower-house and the later mansion designed for
domestic rather than military purposes. There is little doubt,
however that the castle was the first constructed chiefly with
aneye to defence, as might be expected after the fate of its
predecessor and also from its strategic situation on the level
lands below the rick of Weem commanding the east-west highway
of Strath Tay and the road to Rannoch. Today it is still an
imposing and dominating structure on the landscape; before 1577
it must have appeared more threatening, for the alterations,
made no doubt with the expectancy of more peaceful times ahead,
involved the removal of upper works which probably of a more
obvious military nature. .
earlier hopes of more peaceful times were not to be realised,
however, and, at the same time, the strategic importance of
the castle was made more evident in later troubled history of
the Central Highlands. In 1644 the castle was probably involved
when the Chief, Sir Alexander Menzies of Menzies, having declined
to support the Royalist cause, had temerity to harass the forces
of Montrose as they passed though Weem on their way to the Lowlands
and in 1646 the castle was occupied by General Monk's forces.
In the 1715 Rebellion, jacobite troops took and occupied the
castle and in 1746, the family were ejected and the castle manned
by the Duke of Cumberland's forces. the latter occupation began
four days after the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart,
had rested for two nights at Castle Menzies on his march north
with a detachment of his army from Stirling to Inverness. .
the early eighteenth century, the angle of the north tower and
the main block was enclosed by a new set of apartments with
a stairwell communicating with the new rooms and those of the
main block and the north tower of the old building by openings
in the north wall and north tower west wall. At the same time,
a new entrance (that now in use) was made in the center of the
south wall of the main block and the vaulted chamber within
modified to form a hall leading through to the new stair in
the north wing. Extensive redecoration of the old castle occurred
at this time. In 1840, a west wing followed closely the style
of the original was constructed (architect William Burn) which
communicated with (modified) eighteenth century additions. .
Menzies remained the seat of the Menzies of Weem until the
death of the last of the main line of that family in 1918.
It subsequently passed through various hands and was last
used during the 1939-45 War as a Polish Army medical stores
depot. It was acquired in a greatly dilapidated condition
by the Menzies Clan Society in 1957. Surveys carried out in
1971-72 indicated an extensive infection of active dry-rot
and the necessity for urgent action if the building were to
be saved for the future. Accordingly plans for a thorough
restoration of the sixteenth century castle were prepared
and an appeal for funds initiated. Aided by a grant from the
Historic Buildings Council for Scotland, work on the first
phase started in September 1972 and completed the following
year. as a result the building is now structurally sound,
free from dry-rot, it's causes eliminated and its damage repaired.
This phase necessitated the demolition of the eighteenth additions
so that the true proportions of the old Z-plan castle are
once again revealed on the north side. the William Burn wing
remains as nearly separate structure and must remain thus
isolated against a time when means can be found to treat it.
Work on the interior restoration, Phase 2, began in August
1974 and is proceeding steadily.
Brief History of The Menzie Name
contributed by Ron Mennie)
name Menzies is of Norman origin, coming from Mesnieres in Normandy
to England where it was transformed into Manners, the surname
of the Dukes of Rutland, although other early spellings in Scotland
include Meyers, Mingies and Mengues.
Normanisation progressed into Scotland under the descendants
of Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret, a family apparently settled
in Lothian and from there moved into the Highlands. The name
occurs in charters of the 12th and 13th centuries and in 1 249
Sir Robert de Meyeris became Lord Chamberlain of Scotland to
Alexander II. His son Alexander held Weem, Aberfeldy and Fortingall
in Atholl. He supported Bruce at Bannockburn and was rewarded
further territories, in Glendochart and Durisdeer in Nithsdale,
thus by the King's death the Menzies possessions extended west
from Aberfeldy almost as far as Loch Lomond.
Menzies was appointed Governor of Orkney and Shetland under
the King of Norway in 1423. Sir Robert Menzies, another descendant
of the first Robert, the chamberlain, had his properties erected
into a barony of Menzies by King James IV. In 1688 when the
Stuarts were driven from the throne the chief of the clan favoured
the new government, but in 1715 the Menzies were "out"
for James Edward and although during the '45 Clan Menzies took
no part some of them were raised by Menzies of Shian.
Menzies were also involved in various feuds; even with the Campbells,
with whom they had various bonds and marriage alliances. Sir
Alexander Menzies of Castle Menzies was created Baronet of Nova
Scotia in 1665 from whom descended Sir Neil who died in 1910
without issue. His sister became chieftainess till her death.
distinguished branches include the Menzies of Pitfoddels and
the Menzies of Culdares. One of the Menzies of Pitfoddels carried
the Royal Standard at the Battle of Invercarron in 1650 and
the last chief founded the Roman Catholic College of Blairs
near Aberdeen. The Menzies of Culdares are said to have introduced
the larch to Scotland from the Tyrol in 1738.
Menzies house is now regarded by the Lyon Court as the nearest
to the chiefship and in 1958 Ronald Menzies of that Ilk was
reinvested as Chief. The present-day chief now lives in Australia.
Castle Menzies near Aberfeldy was re-acquired and is now being
renovated as the head-quarters of Clan Menzies.
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