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Castle restoration is a dream come true

Owner Kate Armstrong stands outside Cassillis House with Restoration Home presenter Caroline Quentin.

Owner Kate Armstrong stands outside Cassillis House with Restoration Home presenter Caroline Quentin.

A historic castle located near Maybole is set to become a television star this Friday.

That’s because Cassillis House which has over six centuries of history within its walls is to appear on BBC 2’s hit show Restoration Home as part of its third series.

The show is presented by Caroline Quentin and sees the restoration team modernise historic buildings whilst revealing a whole host of fascinating secrets about the medieval buildings along the way.

The owner of Cassillis House is Kate Armstrong, who is also the co-founder of the hugely successful insurance website Confused.com.

The Australian bought the home four years ago and set about trying to restore it to its former glory when it was owned by the legendary Kennedy clan.

And now she has been given help from the national broadcaster. Kate said: “The BBC put in an advert in a magazine last year called Listed Heritage looking for participants in the show.

“It was actually early last year so it has been a long time for all the work to be shown but we had to make sure all the work was planned out properly.”

The house has 112 rooms with 30 builders being required to carry out the work to give Cassillis House a 21st century facelift.

“The builders (Thomas Johnstone Ltd) were very, very good and the fact that they were from Glasgow and knew the area was good. They worked well in tandem with the BBC crew when they asked if they could film here or there and sometimes you just had to say not today which each of them were fine with.

“The film crew were particularly keen as to not make a hassle as at the end of the day, the main thing was getting the work complete.”

Kate admits that being on television isn’t something that had ever really crossed her mind.

“Being on television wasn’t a particular dream of mine to be honest. This has been a great help but the most important thing is that Cassillis House is looking great again.

“Since I bought this house it has been a personal project for me in making sure that the history is restored and this was something I have dreamt about doing since I was a little girl and now I have achieved that.

“The home itself is extremely important to this area and it is vital that we maintain that legacy here of the Kennedy clan.”

There were a few problems along the way including when Historic Scotland had their final say on the renovation work.

“I wanted to paint the castle outside walls grey but Historic Scotland informed that it had to be yellow since that was the colour the castle would have been originally.

During filming Kate discovers waterlogged kitchens and rooms she didn’t even know were there but this is balanced out with the historic finds to one of the greatest murder mysteries in Scottish medieval history in the form of the murder of the Earl of Darnley.

It turns out that the fourth Earl of Cassillis was involved in the murder of the husband of Mary Queen of Scots in the sixteenth century. Kate says she will definitely be tuning into the Beeb this week to see how it looks on TV.

“Of course I will be tuning in to watch if only to see how much of an idiot I look!”.

Restoration Homes will be shown on BBC 2 Scotland this Friday (August 9) at 7pm.

 

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