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The Jardine Castles

Usually, references to a Jardine Castle or Jardine Tower are about Spedlins Tower (reverse). However, there are three sites that could be considered family strongholds of the Jardines or a sept of the name. they are Gardyne Castle, Spedlins tower and Jardine Hall. Here is a look at each.

Gardyne Castle

According to the Gazetteer for Scotland, Gardyne Castle is situated in the central eastern portion of the Angus region in Scotland, about one and a quarter miles southwest from the town of Friockheim (a little town one of the main streets of which is Gardyne Street), and three miles to the east of Letham.

The structure is a tower house originally constructed as an oblong tower in 1468. In the 16th century, it was extended to the east almost doubling its length. Above the east wall are two bartizans and the stair-tower which was originally at the eastern corner now bears a watch-tower and lies in middle of the northeast facade.

According to the website for The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, or RCAHMS, "the eastern block of Gardyne Castle is 16th century, with a round stair-tower surmounted by a square cap-house and a round turret on each angle of the east gable. There is a late 16th century heraldic panel in the south wall. The centre block of the mansion is 18th century and the northwest part is modern.

"Occupied and in good condition. Name confirmed (information from A. Lyell, owner). "It was apparently owned by Gardyne of Leys before being acquired by the Lyells.

"The eastern part of the building retains defensive features including gun ports and bartizans. The latter are notable for their unusual detailing, with false parapet and conical stone roofs surmounted by coronets. An ex situ date-stone of AD 1568 bearing the arms of James VI and the motto 'God Save The King,' serves to strengthen the suggestion that the architecture of the building deliberately associates itself with both the new king and earlier Royal Stewart palace architecture (Holyrood, Falkland, Stirling) perhaps in emphatic reaction to the preceding Marian period. The Gardynes owed their rise to prominence as royal officials within the court of James VI."

(The subsequent story may shed some less favorable light on the guesses of the officials from RCAHMS with regard to the connection between James VI and the Gardynes.) The historical building also has an excellent Edwardian extension (in Lorimer style) which subtley wraps around the West and North West of the Georgian wing.

Built by the Gardyne family, it appears that the Gardyne branch of the family in Angus have been permanently quarreling with the nearby Guthries. Patrick Gardyne of that Ilk was slain in 1578 A.D. by William Guthrie, and in the feud that followed both sides suffered heavy losses. The Gardyne version of the origin of the feud says that Patrick and his kinsman Robert were slain on Carbundow Moor in 1578, and those deaths were avenged by killing Alexander Guthrie in Inverpeffer in 1587 by Thomas Gairden. The Guthrie version says that Alexander Guthrie was murdered by his cousin, Thomas Gairden of Legatston, and that he was avenged by his nephew, William Guthrie, who slew the said Patrick. Whatever the cause, the feud resulted in a victory for the more powerful Guthries.

The feud grew to such an extent that James VI confiscated the lands of both families in the late 16th century and the Gardynes disappeared. By 1682, the castle was the property of the Lyells of Dysart and it remained in their hands until the 20th century. Gardyne Castle has been renovated and remains a family home.

Spedlins Tower

Another Jardine stronghold was Spedlins Tower, also known as Jardine Castle or Jardine Keep. Spedlins Tower was built in 1500 with additions added in 1600 and was owned by the Jardines of Applegirth. Spedlins was abandoned by the Jardine family in the late 17th century when the family moved across the River Annan to the more convenient Jardine Hall; according to legend, the move was to escape the ghost of an unfortunate miller named James "Dunty" Porteus who had been left to starve to death in the tower's dungeon in 1668 AD (the full account of this story can be found under Jardine Ghost).

An account of Spedlins Tower from the mid-Nineteenth century was recorded in the obituary of Sir William Jardine, the famous naturalist. Of his short visit to Jardine Hall in 1844, a friend of Sir William, Dr. Johnston wrote:

"The house, built of a dark red sandstone, reminded me of Twizel House, which it resembles in outward appearance, but the interior arrangements are entirely different. The grounds contain many fine trees, especially beech and ash, and a very large hawthorn stands near the house. Sir William Jardine pointed out to me some beautiful and thriving specimens of firs that have been introduced of late years into this country."
He continues to describe the many rare and interesting types of flora and fauna around Jardine Hall and Lochmaben. After which he records, "[we] hastened onwards to inspect the Spedlings, the ancient fasthold of the Jardines of Applegirth. This is a very interesting Tower, and entire so far as the outward walls are concerned; for the roof has fallen in, and many of the interior walls are now decayed. The dining room has been a fine room, with a noble fireplace, ornamented with a large marble chimney piece; the room is arched like an oven, and in the recesses through which the light comes are stone seats for guests. There has been no lack of accommodation for small and retired parties to consult together, even in the common hall. We were shown the entrance to the dungeon and had again the story of the ghost and the bible. Deeply did I sympathize with the owner of it, that it should have been left thus vacant, and exposed to destruction; when it might have been repaired and restored and made habitable for the sum that was expended in building the modern house that stands on an inferior side of the Annan. There must have been some great defect of heart—some sad lack of love of ancestral deeds, a no-love of fatherland; that he who first left this place of family pride, should have seen no virtue in its restoration and preservation. I deem him to have wronged the present talented baronet and his descendants forever.

"We left Jardine Hall at 5 o'clock in the afternoon; not without a feeling of regret; and very grateful for the kind attentions we had received from Sir William and Lady Jardine and their dear family."
The RCAHMS website gives the following description from D. MacGibbon and T. Ross of Spedlins Tower as it was in ruins in 1887-92.

"Situated on the top of the rising ground on the right bank of the river Annan, and surrounded with ancient trees, this massive keep has a fine and impressive appearance. It is about 5 1/2 miles northwards from Lockerbie and belongs to Sir Alexander Jardine of Jardine Hall, a fine mansion of the early part of the present century on the opposite side of the river (remember, this account is from 1887-92). Spedlins Tower is the ancient home of the Jardine family, and, as such, is kept in good repair by the present representative.
"In a panel near the top of the east side is engraved the date of 1605, which is certainly the date of the upper part of the tower, but the two lower storeys bear the marks of an earlier time. The castle is a parallelogram 46 ft. long by 38 ft. 6 in. wide. The walls of the two lower storeys are massive and strong, being from 9 ft. to 10 ft. in thickness.

"The entrance door is on the ground floor near the southeast angle. This portion of the walls has been restored in modern times, but the straight stair leading to the first floor has always been in its present position. It is quite possible, however, that the original entrance-doorway was on the first floor, immediately above the present entrance, where there is now a window to a small wall-chamber. The door from the hall to the wall-chamber would in that case represent the inner doorway to the keep, and the existing straight staircase would be the mode of access down from the hall to the ground floor. The staircase is only 2 ft. 10 in. wide, while the steps of the newel stair to the upper floors are 3 ft. 4 in. long. The former was thus too narrow for the principal entrance staircase.

"The ground floor is vaulted and is lighted with a narrow loophole at each end. It has a portion divided off with a stone wall pierced with two doors. This was probably the private wine-cellar. The hall occupies the first floor and is also vaulted. It was originally lighted with a window in the east wall and another in the west wall near the upper or fireplace end, and there seems to have been also a similar window at the south end of the hall. The two former have stone seats in their deep bays, and that on the east side has a deep ambry. The window in the south end may have been originally similar to the above. It still has a stone seat on one side and the stair to the basement would then enter from the other side of the window recess. But this window has been altered, probably at the same time that the access to the keep was altered, so as to make the entrance directly into the hall. The other window in the west wall, with the sloping recess, was probably opened up at the same time. It will be observed that it is larger and higher than the older one in the same wall. There is a smaller window at a high level above that in the south wall. This would give light to the upper part of the hall, and may have lighted a minstrels' gallery at the south end, which would be the natural position for such a gallery.

"From the hall, a newel staircase in the southwest angle of the walls leads to the upper floors. We were informed that formerly the prison entered by a hatch from the landing where this staircase begins, but owing to the noisy ghost of a man named Porteous, who had accidentally been starved to death in the 'pit', the latter was filled up with earth, and is now, together with the staircase, almost entirely choked with branches and other rubbish brought there by the jackdaws.

"The two vaulted storeys represent, in our opinion, the castle which must have stood here in the 15th century.
"Above this level, the design and arrangements of the building are quite different. The exterior walls are thinned off to 3 ft. 6 in. in thickness. The windows are larger, and present a much more modern appearance in their internal arrangements.

"The whole building is divided into two compartments by a passage running across the centre of the second floor, from which rooms entered to the north and south. These compartments are indicated in the external view by the two gables of the double roof which covered in the tower.

"There is a rather incongruous relic of the more ancient plan on this floor, in the garde-robe, which has been preserved in the thickness of the west wall. Above the second floor there is a third which has been similarly arranged, and above this an attic flat with small loops in the gables, but probably with windows in the roof. The two upper floors are now inaccessible.

"The third floor has corbelled turrets at the four angles, which, from their shape and the cable mouldings they bear, are evidently late. The cornice over the central windows of this floor quite corresponds in style with the date of 1605 borne by that on the east side.

"We have seen that such towers … are not uncommon in the 17th century, but such a large and massive keep as this would be somewhat exceptional at this date. We have no hesitation, for the reasons above given, in ascribing its two lower stories to an earlier period."

By the late Nineteen Nineties, Spedlins Tower had been restored and the RCAHMS description was updated to include:

"Spedlin's Tower is of outstanding architectural interest and is in a fair state of preservation.
"This substantial late fifteenth-century tower-house, which was remodelled in the seventeenth century, has recently been restored. It consists of a main block of three principal storeys, corbelled rounds and a double garret furnished with crow-stepped gables and slated roofs. Work has now been extended to the layout of garden terraces and policies, including the building of two new single-storey pavilions flanking the garden terrace to the south of the tower."

Spedlins Tower was purchased from Captain Ronnie Cunningham-Jardine (the successor in ownership)who stipulated a condition of any future sale that the Jardine Clan Society should have access to the Tower by arrangement. It is currently owned by an architect and his wife, Nick and Amanda Gray from London. They have completely restored it and now live there part-time. They continue to allow Jardine visitors during the Bi-annual Gathering of the Jardine Clan Society.

In March of 2011, I visited Spedlins Tower and found that not only had the tower itself been restored, but the grounds were improved and the entire property was in beautiful condition.

Jardine Hall

This latest seat at Jardine Hall fell to ruins over the years. Local gossip was that there was a fire in the original Jardine Hall, and it was rebuilt in 1814. In 1889, David Jardine (grandfather of the aforementioned Ronnie Cunningham-Jardine) bought the 6,000 acre Applegirth Estate from Sir Alexander Jardine's family for £146,000. In 1892, he started the massive alterations and enlargements of the very nice and manageable original country house. This additional construction took five years to complete. Ownership had passed into the hands of the Cunningham-Jardine Family.

At the commencement of the Second World War, the house was acquired by the services as a military hospital and remained so until the end of the War. Ronnie Cunningham-Jardine's parents then sold the estate, but retained the mansion house and policies. (Policies refers to grounds and outbuildings.) The former was rented out as a boy's Public School (in 1947), but in 1962 the school gave up tenancy and moved elsewhere.
Ronnie Cunningham-Jardine wrote, "The only option left to me was to let (rent) the building as a hotel, a hospital, mental institution, or conference house, none of which I wanted as I live in the grounds. So finally, in 1964, I made the painful decision to demolish the building which had been my home.

"A Glasgow firm of demolition experts took six attempts to fell it before it eventually collapsed. Before this happened, I had a dispersal sale of all the moveable contents such as doors, flooring, ornate painted ceilings and tapestry wall paintings."

Alexander Stewart wrote, "The building was stripped of all the Hungarian oak paneling, marble, lead roof, etc. and then leveled by explosion. According to the locals, the explosion could be heard for miles around.
The beautiful red sandstone stables remain along with two gate houses, the walled garden, and several other cottages. The old laundry building, I understand is being renovated by the family as a residence. The stables are now considered a listed building and cannot be destroyed.

Had the current laws been in effect at the time, Jardine Hall would still remain. It was, as you probably know, built in 1877 at a cost then of £1 million. It is said that the family asked the architects to create a building that looked as though a million had been spent on it.