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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

CASTLE TOWARDReference: LB5068

Status: Designated


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  • Category: B
  • Group Category Details: B - SEE NOTES
  • Date Added: 20/07/1971


  • Local Authority: Argyll And Bute
  • Planning Authority: Argyll And Bute
  • Parish: Dunoon And Kilmun

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNS 11513 68172
  • Coordinates211513, 668172


David Hamilton, dated 1821 with significant later additions and alterations circa 1921 by Francis W Deas (see Notes). Large and impressive, 2-storey with attic and basement, asymmetric-plan, castellated Gothic Revival mansion house located at southerly point of the Cowal Peninsula. Stugged, pale sandstone ashlar with earlier sections of building slightly warmer in colour. Cill courses, hood mouldings. Turreted corner angles. Crenellated parapets. Raised terrace to S.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: turreted porte-cochere to SE corner; square-plan tower behind with large pointed-arch window. Slightly advanced bay to centre with corbelled out stone balcony at 1st floor. Projecting wing to far left with canted windows at basement, ground and 1st floors.

E ELEVATION: pair of moulded shields with date and initials KF/JS. Rounded, castellated tower to NE corner angle with mullioned and transomed window. Small octagonal tower to segmentel-arched entrance to rear courtyard. Tall, machicolated octagonal tower to centre of N (rear) elevation. W ELEVATION: bifurcated T-plan staircase with stone balustrade rising to large recessed loggia with 3 four-centre arches and crenellated parapet set between advanced square-plan towers.

Predominantly 2-pane glazing pattern to timber sash and case windows. Pointed-arch windows with octagonal leaded glass. Slated roofs behind crenellated parapets. Octagonal chimneystacks arranged in groups of six.

INTERIOR: remodelled with decorative work predominantly early 20th century in a variety of historicist classical styles - some original Gothic Revival elements intact. Plaster rib-vaulting to SE porch, hall and staircase is early 19th century. Ornate Louis XVI decorative plasterwork, fluted mouldings and brass fittings to former music/drawing room; Adamesque, segmental plasterwork ceiling to library, full-height timber bookcases; heavy and ornate timber Jacobean fireplace to ballroom. Curved timber staircase to E range and large stair with central well and upper loggia to W wing. Some marble fireplaces to ground floor; largely timber fireplaces to 1st and 2nd floors. Timber panelling; extensive use of parquet flooring. Stone flags to basement.

Statement of Special Interest

Part of a B-Group comprising - Castle Toward; Castle Toward, Gate Lodge and Garage; Castle Toward, Walled Garden To East, Walled Garden To North and Glasshouse and Workshop Range; Castle Toward, Chinese Lakes including Bridges (See separate listings).

Castle Toward is a large and impressive castellated Gothic-Revival mansion house characterised by its wealth of towers, turrets and good stonework detail. Among numerous architectural features adding to its interest are the porte-cochère, corbelled balcony and tower and garden terrace to S elevation, round tower and courtyard entrance to E and the loggia to W elevation. The early 20th century additions and remodelling faithfully adhere to the Gothic-Revival style of the earlier building while collectively, the programme of aggrandisement at Toward works as an ensemble and is an excellent example of large-scale estate development in Scotland during the inter-war period.

The original mansion house, or 'marine villa' was built by David Hamilton for Kirkman Finlay, a successful merchant and former Lord Provost of Glasgow, who bought the estate of Auchavoulin from the Campbell family in 1818 and renamed it Toward. The New Statistical Account of Scotland notes that there can be "few specimens of modern Gothic more happily conceived" than Hamilton's original design. Between 1919 and 1945, new owner Major Andrew Coats, a member of a wealthy Paisley threadmaking family, invested huge sums of money into the estate. The mansion house more than doubled in size with additional towers to the E and N and the creation of a large W wing including ballroom, billiard room, music room and numerous additional bedrooms. Following its use as a military outpost during WW2, during which the building was known as 'HMS Brontosaurus', a residential school was founded at Toward in the 1940s following its purchase by Strathclyde Regional Council and continues to be run as an outdoor education centre. Some of the nissan huts installed by the Navy remain and are used as stores.

Francis W Deas was a very close friend of renowned Scottish architect Robert Lorimer and favoured a similar Arts and Crafts approach to design as reflected in Deas's Lorimeresque garden ancillary buildings at Toward (see separate listings). Kellas House (see separate listing) in Moray is probably his finest work in the Scottish Art and Crafts manner.

The ruinous remains of the 15th century 'Toward Castle', (located on the estate at OS Map Ref: NS 1161, 6815) is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1862). Groome's Gazetteer. New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845), pp609, 610, 616. Frank A Walker, Buildings of Scotland - Argyll and Bute (2000) pp493-496.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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