|Background to Ecclesgreig Castle
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON ECCLESGREIG CASTLE AND ESTATE.
Ecclesgreig Estate was originally known as the 'Lands of Mount Cyrus' and 'Lands of Criggie'. Ecclesgreig Castle was built in 1844 from the remains of Mount Cyrus or St. Cyrus House. The name was changed to 'Ecclesgreig' by the ancestral owners, the Forsyth Grants, to avoid confusion with the village of St. Cyrus.
Ecclesgreig Castle for many years formed the centre-piece of a large, productive agricultural estate. This also included salmon fishing and a large number of cottages and other properties. The substantial income from these sources funded the building of the castle and maintained it and the splendid Italian Renaissance garden which in fact was the most costly to maintain yet the least productive.
Over the years death duties, changing trends and rationalisation have led to the greater estate being split up and sold off. The decline in acreage has been mirrored by the decline in the castle and its policies. They are now at a stage where action must be taken to save what is still recoverable.
What is now needed is for the Castle and walled estate to have a sustainable income. This income would initially fund essential maintenance on the castle and laterally, restoration of the grounds and policies to their former glory
As you will see, in the past various golf and leisure developments have been proposed and have faltered. Common with many of these has been the large scale, grandiose and unrealistic nature of these proposals and foreign offshore multinational ownership.
Farquhar Estates Ltd's proposed development is small in comparison but is realistic and achievable. It is controlled locally and money will be reinvested locally. It will create employment which would be significant in a small rural community where opportunities are limited. There will be a number of full time jobs and a considerable number of part time positions.
Because of the proposed chalet accommodation it is hoped that it will bring a significant increase of people, especially tourists, to the area. Rather than just passing through, visitors will typically be in the area for at least a week, providing custom to all local businesses.
The project itself comprises a number of main elements.:
1) The Castle. Income is needed to fund essential maintenance on the castle. Once the castle is stabilised, it is hoped to attract a hotel operator/developer to restore and extend the castle as a hotel. Outline planning permission is necessary in order to attract interest in this regard.
2) The Chalets. It is intended to locate groupings of timber chalets interspersed in the woodland within the policies. They would operate on a self-catering basis and would appeal to the family holiday market. These chalets are relatively expensive, costing £20-25,000 per unit. It is hoped to site around five per year. Whilst chalets will become productive in the long term, there is a considerable income lag in the initial stages.
3) The Gate Lodges. The building of gate lodges will produce a sustainable income for the walled estate in the short and long term. Income from the lodges can not only fund the construction, but also the essential maintenance the castle so desperately needs. They should also provide funds in year 4 and 5 for work on the policies. The decision to build these lodges is consistent with the history of the estate and to recreate the Victorian splendour of a traditional country estate. They would add rather than detract from the appeal to potential visitors. It is intended to recreate gate wells and posts at each lodge, emphasising the importance of Ecclesgreig as a local landmark and focus of the community.