Lews Castle & Designed Landscape

Client: Caomhairle Nan Eilean Siar

The creation of the A Listed Lews Castle and its designed landscape on such a remote but beautiful island realm is an extraordinary achievement in terms of ambition, quality, scale and execution by one of the key figures of the mid-Victorian period.

Built by one of the richest self-made men of the 19th century (reputed to be the richest man in Europe of the time), Lews Castle and its designed landscape is perceived by many to have been built as a potent status symbol of ownership, social standing, power and position. It is also however a place that was clearly much loved as a home by its creators, Sir James and Lady Matheson and, possibly as a result of this, its magnificence was achieved not by the gauche and ostentatious display of wealth but rather through the expression in its design and execution, of the highest standards of contemporary taste, fashion and technology.

Lews Castle and its designed landscape is unique in the Western Isles and it is one of the grandest of such developments on Scottish islands.

LDN Architects led a team of specialists who prepared a Conservation Plan for the Castle and its surrounding Designed Landscape. The Plan was used to inform conservation and development proposals for the Castle and its grounds which won the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund Historic Scotland and other agencies and funders.

Due to the vagaries of the competition system, LDN was not appointed to deliver the project. It has however now been completed by others, broadly in line with our recommendations and the future of the castle is now much more certain.

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