45200: Lews Castle, Stornoway

Lews Castle was built by Sir James Matheson on the site of Seaforth Lodge, overlooking the town of Stornoway. The building cost £60,000 and, begun in 1847, took seven years to complete. At the same time extensive policies were established around the castle, with woodlands and formal gardens, ten miles of carriage drives and five miles of footpaths. This necessitated the clearing of tenants and the re-routing of public rights of way, which was not well received locally.

Sir James and Lady Matheson lived at Lews Castle and after their deaths, it was sold (along with the island) by their heirs to Lord Leverhulme. During his short ownership he modernised the castle and installed electricity. When Leverhulme left the island he gave it to the people of Lewis and the castle has since been in public ownership. It was let to sporting tenants in the 1930s and used as a naval hospital during the Second World War.

During the Second World War the Ministry of Defence took over  Lews Castle and named it HMS Mentor.

in 1953 the Castle housed the newly-formed Lews Castle College, which in 1976 decamped to a purpose-built building within the walls of the old kitchen garden.

Following a period of dereliction, the renovation of Lews Castle was funded by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, The Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the European Regional Development Fund. A new annex was also built to house Museum & Tasglann nan Eilean; this opened in July 2016. Lews Castle itself was leased by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to a private provider of holiday accommodation.


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Building or Public Amenity
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Lews Castle, Stornoway

Lews Castle, Stornoway