Couple lost small fortune restoring fortress to former glory

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A CASTLE-loving couple have revealed they lost a small fortune restoring a 600-year-old Scottish fortress to its former glory.

Janet and John Brennan spent eight years and hundreds of thousands of pounds turning Barholm Castle from a ruin into a stylish and luxurious dream home.

Janet and John spent 8 years renovating the castle
Janet and John spent 8 years renovating the castle

They bought the 15th Century castle in Dumfries and Galloway, reputed to have been used by John Knox as a hiding place, for just £65,000.

It is now on the market for offers over £695,000. But even at that price, the couple will lose a six-figure sum.

They described the castle as a "labour of love"
They described the castle as a “labour of love”

 

Despite that, Janet, 60, and John, 64, insist the project was a “labour of love” and they have “no regrets”.

When the Brennans first stumbled upon the castle near Gatehouse of Fleet – once home to a branch of the powerful McCulloch clan – in 1997 it was just a shell of crumbling stone walls.

The castle boasts stunning views over Dumfries
The castle boasts stunning views over Dumfries

 

It took two years to complete the purchase, four years to get planning permission and three years of restoration.

The grade A-listed building was lovingly transformed into a stunning home while staying true to its historical roots.

The grade-A listed building has been transformed into a beautiful home
The grade-A listed building has been transformed into a beautiful home

 

Janet, the chairwoman of the Scottish Castles Association, admitted: “The restoration cost more than the asking price but it was a labour of love – we were not doing it for profit.

“We’ve no regrets. Other people take up golf and they buy boats. We bought a castle.”

The building used to be a total ruin
The building used to be a total ruin

 

The retired university lecturer said: “It was a massive project.

“We were driving and saw a sign on the road saying castle for sale.

“When we drove up the narrow, winding track and saw it we fell in love with it. It was love at first sight.”

The interior has stayed true to its historical roots
The interior has stayed true to its historical roots

 

Janet, who has written a book on the subject of restoring them, continued: “We were always interested in castles and visited them over the years.

“But it was a spur of the moment decision.

The old, crumbling spiral staircase
The old, crumbling spiral staircase

 

“We saved it. It was described as being in a precarious condition.”

The castle now has rooms over four floors as well as stunning sea views over Wigtown Bay.

The ground floor vaulted chamber has been converted into a kitchen while the great hall has been transformed into a large living space.

The staircase after being completely restored
The staircase after being completely restored

 

Four bedrooms are found on the upper floors including one said to have been used to shelter the architect of the Scottish reformation – John Knox.

Meanwhile a staircase in the turret leads to upper cap house chamber, with a door to the roof parapet.

“It’s an enjoyable experience living in the house,” Janet said.

One of the four bedrooms in the castle
One of the four bedrooms in the castle

 

“It’s not that we’re selling because we want to leave it – we want to be closer to family.

“I think it would make a fabulous holiday home for someone with deep pockets.

“Or a home for a retired couple who want to live somewhere really special.”

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