Bringing Back Balintore

In rural Angus the hands of time are being turned back.

Decay is frozen, ruination stopped in its tracks,as the murmurings of restoration revive Balintore Castle from its fifty year slumber.

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For those unaware, Balintore Castle is a Grade A listed mansion designed by eminent Victorian architect William Burn. Built in 1860 and abandoned 100 years later, silence prevailed over its empty halls for half a century. Now signs of life are once again present, heralding a most welcome renaissance for this spectacular showpiece.

The current works come at the hands of David Johnston, the castle’s latest owner and champion of its revival. His ongoing restoration adventures are charted in his own entertaining blog – Balintore Castle Restoration Project – which is well worth a read. To my delight, a long-held dream of mine was realised when David kindly accepted my self-invitation to lend a hand in proceedings at the castle last year. Continue reading

A Prospective Perspective

While flicking through the most recent addition to my bookshelf, volume 10 from the 1896 editions of Academy Architecture, I was thrilled to behold this previously unseen prospective view of Milkbank House among its pages.

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The Predecessors

During my stay at Auchinleck House earlier this year, a trek through the grounds brought me to the crumbling ivy strewn remains of the Old Place of Auchinleck.

The Old Place of Auchinleck

This tower house was built in 1612 and served as the seat of the Lairds of Auchinleck before being superseded by the newer 18th Century mansion. It had itself replaced the yet more ancient Auchinleck Castle which had already fallen into disrepair by the 17th Century, its site now marked by only a few remaining stones.

  

I was interested to see this line of succession still visibly traceable upon the ground, bearing witness to the different sites where generations of the Boswell family had built their homes over the centuries. It put me in mind of what older structures may have stood before the ruined mansions I’m familiar with, and what became of these outmoded predecessors. Continue reading

The Library: Antique Volumes

Having already blogged about my love of books, I thought I’d put together a post about the small number of antique volumes which form part of my ruin-related library.

   

Between the aged covers of these old books I have found tantalizing references to some of the ruins I’ve explored. There is something compelling about leafing through pages over a century old and being greeted by a view of one of the houses I know so well, its bygone resplendence immortalized in an old photograph or etching from a time when its longevity seemed unquestionable. Continue reading

At the Fringe of Reality: The Work of Sir Simon Marsden

Earlier this month came the release of Russia: A World Apart, the latest collection of work by renowned photographer and master of ruins Sir Simon Marsden.

Sadly, the book is a posthumous publication as Simon died in January 2012. Here I pay tribute to the man who accelerated my own love of ruins, and the incredible photographic legacy he left behind.

Simon Marsden book collection

I first discovered Simon Marsden in my early teens, when searching for photographs of my favourite childhood holiday destination of Whitby. I had spent time here almost every year since birth, and had always been captivated by tales of Dracula stalking its misty alleys. This no doubt informed my burgeoning preoccupation for all things gothic, and I was suitably captivated by the dreamlike photographs of the town’s famed Abbey and churchyard I found on The Marsden Archive. Continue reading