The Castle of Maybole was formerly the town house of the Earls of Cassillis,
and formed by far the finest specimen of the twenty-eight gentlemen's houses
which once adorned our town. The country residences of the Cassillis lords were
various. The first was Dunnure on the sea shore, the next was Cassillis House on
the Doon, the present is Culzean on the sea shore again. Judging from its
architecture, Maybole Castle was built probably about the year 1650, although
the exact date is not known. The square tower or keep, which formed its first
nucleus, may easily be distinguished from more recent additions by the thickness
of its walls (four feet), and the antique character of its architecture. The
main entrance originally looked up High Street, and stood immediately beneath
the square recess in the wall (seen in the engraving) where the coat of arms was
The additions that have been made to the castle in recent times have been
executed with good taste, and in admirable keeping. Among the items to be
observed are the beautiful little oriel window looking up the street, with its
quaintly ornamented gable, the oddly carved chimney heads, the droll headings of
the small windows, like a Scotch "mutch" on an old face, and the
grandly massive front with its ancient turrets. Robert Chambers says of it that
"a finer, more sufficient, and more entire house of its kind has never
fallen under the notice of the present writer,"--nor, I may add, of this
still more recent writer.
Many a scene of sturt and strife has the old castle witnessed in its day.
From it, in December, 1601, issued the men who waylaid and killed the Laird of
Bargany at Duneane (afterwards to be described). But the weirdest story that
attaches to the old building is connected with the Countess's Room in the top
storey, lighted by the oriel window aforesaid. The story itself will be more
fully told in connection with Cassillis House, and here it may be sufficient to
allude to it in verse--
The ladye o' Cassillis sits
In her room in the auld castle high.
And thinks o'the bricht happy days that were hers.
But noo are for ever gane by,
When she roamed through the woods and the fields sae green
That sweep round the bonnie Doon,
When maidens and vassals were a'at her beck,
And the homage o' Mayhole toon.
But the glamour o' wanton love
cast its spell
Over this high-born ladye,
And she left her hoose and her
bairns and a'
To gang wi' a gypsy laddie.
And here is the pitfu' end o' it, a'--
Her lover hanged on the Dule tree,
While she is confined in this lanesome tower,
Her life-lang weird to dree.
0, easy it is to tak' a wrang
And hard in the richt to abide,
Bat wha shall undo the thing that is dune,
When ance it has left oor side?
Nae use for us then to sab and lament,
We maun reap as we've sawn----nae doot,
It's easy to drap idle stanes in the well,
But wha's to tak' them oot?
The quaint oriel window still
looks np the street,
And we fancy that sad face we see,
Lamenting for aye that ae fause step
Which wrocht a' her misery.
And this is the warning the auld story tells
To ilka ane that gangs by-
"The glamour o' sin blins the een o' the best,
And steals a' oor innocent joy."
Table of Contents