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Revival of the Scottish Tower House

Date Added: April 07, 2009 10:58:28 AM
Author: Andrew Loyd
Category: Scotland Articles: Scottish History

Let’s hope that the current economic downturn does not halt the amazing revival that Scotland’s historic homes have enjoyed over the last 20 years. Whether they’re virtual ruins like Fenton Tower in East Lothian or merely homes in need of a lot of restoration like Birkhill Castle in Fife, it’s been so exciting to see the new life breathed into these important buildings. Fenton Tower was literally a pile of stones and just the merest remnants of the old Tower before the current owners aided by a substantial grant and a lot of US money completely rebuilt the structure and installed all 21st century comforts whilst retaining the feel of an ancient building. Other homes like Birkhill although remaining in the same family for centuries had suffered terribly from neglect and faced pretty bleak futures. However the owners through massive personal effort and scraping together all resources at their disposal have restored the house, installed new bathrooms, undertaken extensive re-roofing and re-wiring and guttering projects and slowly restored the house to its former glory. These projects were often undertaken during personally challenging times and when their own finances were stretched to the limit. Sacrifices were made in terms of the lifestyle they could have enjoyed in a less demanding home but always with an eye to the future and the inheritance that they would pass on to their son. This is a story repeated across Scotland and great assisted with a general rise in the Country’s prosperity, land prices going up, increased housing development and other new opportunities for rural estates to make money. The old land owning families have been supplemented with ever increasing numbers of new arrivals anxious to share in the quieter lifestyle and the country’s supply of historic homes. There has long been an influx of people anxious to own a sporting estate and occupy one of the mainly Victorian lodges that are usually part of these kind of properties but what has been so encouraging is the number of people prepared to take on one of the less financially viable properties mainly for the love of actually just owning such an interesting home. Across the country there were a plethora of beaten up Tower houses, old keeps, Victorian and Georgian piles with little or no land attached and no real incentive to be saved. However prosperity brings out different qualities in people and some feel the urge to restore old buildings. Of course the fantastic increase in property prices, coupled with in Scotland a relatively short supply of interesting homes on the market, has given many the confidence to take on in many cases incredibly challenging projects. If many realised the hassle and final costs involved, I suspect a lot of the semi ruins would still be gathering moss but fortunately there are some very brave people out there!
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