Kenmure Castle

Kenmure Castle is a fortified hoose or castle in The Glenkens, wan mile (1.6 km) sooth o the toun o New Gallowa in Kirkcoubrieshire, Gallowa, sooth-west Scotland. The site wis occupied fae the middle ages, an the hoose incorporates pairt o a 17th-century castle.[1] This wis remodelled in the 19th century, bit the castle haes bin derelict syne the mid-20th century. It wis the seat o the Gordon faimily o Lochinvar, efter raised tae the peerage as Viscounts o Kenmure. The ruin is noo a scheduled monument.[2] The castle stauns oan a natural bourach, whilk haes bin modified fur defence in the middle ages. The Lords o Gallowa, rulers o a semi-independent kinrick in south-west Scotland til the 13th century hud a fortress here. Kenmure haes bin suggested as a birthplace in 1249 o John Balliol, later King o Scotland, wha's mither Dervorguilla wis dochter o' Alan, Lord of Gallowa. it efter belonged tae th' Douglas an Maxwell faimilies.

Kenmure Castle

Kenmure became a property o the Gordons fae 1297, whin they arrived fae Berwickshire. The castle wis badly damaged by opponents o Mary, Queen o Scots, wha pursued her thro Gallowa efter her defeat at the Battle o Langside in 1568.

Kenmure Castle 1790 by Francis Grose

Sir Robert Gordon o Lochinvar wis created a baronet in 1626, an in 1633 his son Sir John Gordon wis created Viscount o Kenmure bi Charles I.

The 6th Viscount teuk pairt in the Jacobite Rising o 1715 an wis beheaded at the Tower o Lunnon an his estates forfeit.

WILLIAM GORDON, 6th Viscount Kenmure (d. 1716), Jacobite, o Kenmure Castle, New Gallowa, Scotland

Some accounts state that his body wis returned tae his faimily at Kenmure fur burial.

The viscountcy wis restored tae Captain John Gordon in 1824 whae died in 1840, an haes bin dormant syne the death o his nephew, Adam the 8th/11th Viscount, in 1847.

The castle wis extensively remodelled an modernised inthe 19th century, whin the courtyaird dyke an the north-east tower wur lifted wi the uise o gunpooder. The sooth range wis rebuilt in aroond 1840 amongst the architects responsible fur thae changes wur William McCandlish, in the 1840s, an Hugh MaClure in the 1860s. In 1879 the Sheffield-based airchitect Matthew Ellison Hadfield wis employed tae remodel the wast range. Further extensions wur made in 1908 by the architect Christian Elliot. In 1923, the estate wis sold but the castle itself wis let tae an efter bought bi Brigadier-General Maurice Lilburn MacEwen CB ,late 16th the Queen's Lancers. He wis battalion commander o the Stewartry Hame Guard during WW II. He died in 1943 at Kenmure Castle an is buriet in Kells Churchyaird. Fae aboot the late 1940s tae 1957 it operated as an hotel run by Stanley Dobson, (brither o David Cowan Dobson), and his business pairtner Hugh Ormond Sparks. Aroond 1958 the biggins interior fixtures an fittins wur pult aff oot an the roof taen aff. The ruins wur bought in 1962 by Graeme Gordon. The castle wisnae as commonly thocht destroyed by fire.[3]

The castle is said tae be hauntit bi a heidless piper, "The Headless Piper of Kenmure".[3]

A sundial bearin the date 1623 fae Kenmure is noo in Dumfries Museum.


  • Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) efter her defeat at the Battle o Langside in 1568.
    Mary Queen of Scots by Federico Zuccari or Alonso Sánchez Coello
  • Rev George Gillespie (1613 –1648) wis a Scottish theologian an domestic chaplain tae John Gordon 1st Viscount Kenmure.
    Rev George Gillespie
  • Samuel Rutherford 1600 – 1661) Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian an author, attended John Gordon 1st Viscount Kenmure oan his deathbed an efter wrote a tract entitled "The Last and Heavenly Speeches and Glorious Departure of John, Viscount Kenmure", printed in Edinburgh in 1649, by Evan Tyler, His Majesty's Printar. It wis reprintet in 1827.[4]
    Rev Samuel Rutherford
  • Robert Burns stayed here fur three days in July 1793 as guest o the then laird John Gordon (efter the 10th Viscount Kenmure) 1750-1840).
    Alexander Nasmyth - Robert Burns, 1759 - 1796.
  • Rev Robert Nixon (1759–1837), wis a Church o England priest an artist. Fur the lest ten years o' his lee he served as domestic chaplain tae Viscount Kenmure at Kenmure Castle whaur he died oan 5 November 1837, aged 78. By his guidwife Ann Russell he wis faither o' the Rev. Francis Russell Nixon, foremaist Bishop o Tasmania. It wus in Nixon's parsonage at Foots Cray in Kent 1798 that J M W Turner painted his foremaist pentin.[5]
  • John Ruskin 1819-1900), art critic and author, stayed wi his kizzen Joan Agnew and her guidman the artist Arthur Severn (1842-1931) at Kenmure in 1876.[6][7]
    John Ruskin 1870
  • Cowan Dobson ARBB, RBA (1894-1980) Scots portrait painter is said to hae rented the castle in the 1930s and 1940s to enterteen and pent his fashionable portraits and pentings.[8]
  • John Murray wis gamekeeper tae Lord Kenmure an is remembered fur huvin caught, in 1774 in Loch Ken below the castle, the lairgest ged oan record, the heid o whilk rested oan his shouder, wi the tail trailing oan the grun. Its weight wis seventy-two poonds, an it maisured aboot seven feet in length. The skeleton o the heid wis fur mony years preserved oan display in the billiard room at Kenmure Castle whaur it wus studied an maisured by Charles Tate Regan, ichthyologist, o the Natural History Museum in Lunnon. Murray died in 1777 an is buried at Kells Churchyaird; oan his tombstone ur carved in relief a gun, fishing-rod, dug an partridge.[9][10]
    Charles Tate Regan


The castle, 18th century view
The castle in the late 19t hunerts
The castle as it is noo
Kenmure Castle Doorway
South Door of Kenmure Castle with the Gordon Coat o Airms aboon
The Avenue wi the castle ahint the trees.
Kenmure Castle, frae the walled gairdens
The Loch Ken Ged caught by gamekeeper John Murray in 1774.


  3. a b
  4. The Last and Heavenly Speeches and Glorious Departure of John, Viscount Kenmure", printed in Edinburgh in 1649, by Evan Tyler, His Majesty's Printar
  6. research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=107746
  7. Ruskin, John. Praeterita
  10. Regan, C. Tate (Charles Tate), 1878-. The Freshwater Fishes of the British Isles. London: Methuen, 1911.