The Ancient Heart
The existing Taymouth Castle dates from the 19th century, but the first castle on the site was built in 1550 by Sir Colin Campbell. It was Balloch Castle and became the seat of the Campbell Clan whose lands, at the height of their powers, extended over 100 miles from Taymouth to the West Coast of Scotland.
The 1st Marquis of Breadalbane demolished Balloch Castle and built Taymouth Castle. A far grander building than its predecessor, it included a landscaped deer park. Final additions and alterations were completed in readiness for the visit in 1842 of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
On Queen Victoria's visit in 1842 she wrote warmly about her welcome and the famous highland hospitality. In her diaries Queen Victoria described her reception: "There were a number of Lord Breadalbane's Highlanders, all in Campbell tartan, drawn up in front of the house, with Lord Breadalbane himself in a Highland dress at their head, a few of Sir Niall Menzie's men, a number of the pipers playing, and a company of the 92 Highlanders also in kilts. The firing of the guns, the cheering of the great crowd, the picturesqueness of the dresses, the beauty of the surrounding country with its rich background of wooded hills, altogether formed one of the finest scenes imaginable. It seemed as if a great chieftain in old and feudal times was receiving his sovereign."
Taymouth Castle is believed to be the most important Scottish castle in private ownership. Its public rooms are outstanding examples of the opulence and refinement created by the finest architects and craftsmen of the 19th century. The central building with its cloistered colonnade and corner towers dates from 1806 and was built by James and Archibald Elliot.
Inside, Francis Bernasconi - acknowledged as the greatest designer of fine plaster work of the era - created a central staircase that soars 100 feet through all four storeys of the central tower and many of the ceilings were painted by Cornelius Dixon.