While exploring the Scottish Highlands in the 1990s, a family of four came across the neglected Dalcross Castle. Captivated by the building and its history, they bought it in 1996. The castle was built in 1620 for one of the daughters of the eighth Lord Lovat, chief of Clan Fraser. It was used by the Duke of Cumberland during the mustering of troops for the 1746 Battle of Culloden, and troops stayed in the castle or crossed it on their way to the battlefield. After falling into disrepair in the 19th century, the building was renovated in late Victorian times and restored to habitable accommodation, but had gradually become run-down.
A couple of years after buying it, the family enlisted help from Maxwell & Company Architects. “The clients wanted to convert the property from an unloved cold and damp castle into something warm, cozy and habitable that could be used by family and friends,” James Maxwell says. The skillful and sensitive renovation introduced 21st-century comforts while maintaining the character and history of the building, creating a welcoming Scottish escape for the family from their busy lives in London.
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: An accountant by training, a lawyer and their 2 children
Location: Near Inverness, Scotland
Year built: 1620
Architect: James Maxwell, Maxwell & Company Architects
Size: 11 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms
To the left of the main castle is a smaller structure added in the 1890s by a local architect, who used stone from the same quarry and the same slate tiling for a unified look. Both are pictured here. “The newer space is much more domestic in scale and has more of an Arts and Crafts feel,” Maxwell says.
The building to the far left — a single-story cottage — was originally a dairy and is connected to a two-story cottage that once housed estate workers. These buildings are connected to the main castle by an open courtyard, which has been roofed to create an enclosed mudroom. The family uses this as their entrance.
The project took the better part of three years and involved the complete restoration of both the exterior and interior of the castle. The scale of the project gave the architects and clients plenty of time to find salvaged items that could be incorporated into the home. Everything was found or bought new for the castle, which is now full of period pieces with interesting histories.
These exterior gates, which are not the main gates but the entrance to the walled gardens, are not original to the property; they were sourced in Edinburgh at an architectural salvage yard. They date back to the 1890s and were refurbished and installed at the property, with the stone wall being extended and new railings put in to match.
The back door — the one used by the family — opens into this passageway, which has various utilitarian rooms off it, such as a wine cellar, a garden room and an office for the running of the estate.
At the end, through the open door pictured here, the main staircase rises up through the full five floors of the castle. The solid oak floor conceals heating pipes that run underground from a boiler room that Maxwell & Company Architects constructed outside the walled garden.
More Houzz Tour: New Warmth for a 17th-Century Scottish Castle
Houzz Tour: New Warmth for a 17th-Century Scottish Castle