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Castle Menzies

Tour Castle Menzies

Castle Menzies Scotland

West of Weem lies the historic Castle Menzies waiting to welcome you. From 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".

This 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.

In 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.

Any 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.

In 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.

Castle 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 open to the public.

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