Castle for sale. Romantic Ruin/Fixer-upper (former McCulloch ancestral home). This is what Janet and John Brennan-Inglis found back in 1999. What they saw though were rivers of snowdrops leading to a potential dream home, bathed in the golden light of a setting sun from across the western sea.

Two years negotiating the sale, another two years for planning permissions, then two and a half years for the building project and five years of renting parts of it out before they could move in. During this there were the unforeseen problems: dismantling an entire wall (because of a crack) and reassembling it, the never-ending dampness (requiring special breathable paint @£150/5Litres) and the constant oversight of archaeologists every time a spade broke the earth. And on top of this Janet and John were still living in Holland! It is no wonder that when John was asked if he would do it all again he said ‘At 45 years old yes, at 65 years old ,no!’

The fully restored Barholm castle and gardens were indeed beautiful to behold especially when juxtaposed with the before and after pictures of the 15th century building (uninhabited for the last 250 years). Great care was taken to restore the building to what it had once been including the timber beams and ceilings. Though fortunately a certain amount of discretion did allow for modern plumbing and a state of the art kitchen.

Janet has also written about the experience and published a book Scotland’s Castles: Rescued, Rebuilt and Reoccupied. This is a beautifully illustrated account of the renaissance of Scottish castles that has taken place since 1950 with over 100 ruined and derelict buildings detailed.