Ayrshire: About 1 mile north and east of Galston, on minor road east of A719, 0.5 miles north of the River Irvine, Loudoun Castle.
Ruin or site NS 506378 OS: 70 KA4 8PE
Loudoun Castle, a large ruined castellated mansion, incorporates a tower house. Part of the castle dates from the 15th century, but it was extended in the 17th century, then engulfed by a
castellated mansion of 1804-11. The mansion is an impressive symmetrical edifice of two storeys with towers at the corners and a taller central three-storey tower in the middle. The building is
crowned by a crenellated corbelled-out battlement.
‘Lowdoun Cast.’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of Cunningham, and is depicted as a castle with two large towers in a large wooded and enclosed park.
Loudoun was a property of the Crawfords in the 14th century, but passed by marriage to the Campbells in that century. Gilbert Kennedy, 2nd Earl of Cassillis, was assassinated in 1527 by Sir Hugh Campbell of Loudoun, Sheriff of Ayr. John Campbell of Loudoun, Chancellor of Scotland,
was made Earl of Loudoun in 1641. The castle was surrendered to General Monck for Cromwell in 1650 after a siege, during which part of the building was destroyed, but the Earl took part in an
uprising in support of Charles II in 1653. Hugh, 3rd Earl, was joint Secretary of State for Scotland and Keeper of the Great Seal. The property passed by marriage to Francis Hastings, Lord Hastings,
in the 19th century, and he built much of the mansion, although he later ran out of money. The family were made Marquesses of Hastings, although this title is now extinct, while the Loudoun title
continues with the now Abney-Hastings family.
The castle was used by Belgian troops during World War II, and in 1941 was accidentally torched and gutted. It remains a large impressive ruin, and was the centre piece of a theme park, although this closed in 2010. There are plans to use the site for a holiday resort and hundreds of houses, although the ruin of the house is only to be stabilised. The initial plan, costing some £450m, to build 450 luxury lodges, along with a leisure complex, was rejected by the local council, and this was confirmed by the Scottish government reporter in February 2019.
The Campbells of Loudoun have a burial vault [NS 492374] of 1622, built from the remains of the choir of Loudoun Kirk. Among those buried there are John, 1st Earl of Loudoun, the 4th Earl, and Flora, 6th Countess, who died in 1840, along with the arm of Francis, her husband, so that they were hand-in-hand in death. There was village at Loudoun but this has been abandoned and only the ruins of the church and some cottages survive.
The castle was reputedly haunted by a ‘Grey Lady’, who was apparently seen often before its destruction in 1941, and is said to have been witnessed since. The ghost of a hunting dog, with glowing eyes, is also said to roam the area. There are also tales of a ghostly piper and of a monk.
The castle is said to be linked by an underground passage to Cessnock Castle.