Comlongon Castle is a delightful tower house that dates back to the 15th century. It is located roughly 1 kilometre west of the beautiful village of Clarencefield and around 10 kilometres southeast of Dumfries in southwest Scotland. The very original tower has been extended with the addition of a baronial style mansion.
The history of Comlongon Castle
This lovely castle was originally built by the Murrays of Cockpool and remained in the same family until 1984. It was restored after being vacant for a long period of time. Now, the Comlongon Castle Hotel is running at the castle.
With a long, illustrious history, there is so much to know about this gorgeous castle. A story of a Comlongon Castle ghost isn’t all this castle has to offer.
The early history
Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray granted the lands of Comlongon in the early 14th century to his beloved nephew named William de Moravia, ancestor of the Murrays of Cockpool. Comlongon Castle itself was built in place of the Murrays’ earlier castle of Cockpool.
Only the earthworks remain of the original castle to the southwest of Comlongon. The construction of Comlongon Castle can mainly be attributed to Cuthbert of Cockpool in the late part of the 15th century. However, a license was granted to his son John Murray around the year 1500. This then led Alastair Maxwell-Irving to suggest it was built in the first decade of the 16th century.
However, it was definitely present in 1508 after it was mentioned in documents creating the Barony of Cockpool for John Murray. Descendants of the Murrays were afterwards created Viscounts Stormont in 1621. Later, in 1776, they were also named as Earls of Mansfield.
An adjacent mansion
An adjacent mansion was built in the 18th century and was soon replaced with the present baronial style house we see today in 1900. It was designed by local architects John M. Bowie and James Barbour. From 1939 until 1952, the house served as a safe children’s home operated by Barnardo’s.
After a long spell of occasional use, the Earl listed Comlongon Castle for sale. It was sold to Tony Ptolomey, who set about refurbishing both tower house and mansion as a hotel. Comlongon was part of the Earl’s estate until 1984.
The current day
The hotel quickly became a popular venue operated by a partnership. In fact, a Comlongon Castle wedding was at the top of everyone’s wish list. In April of 2019, the business entered administration after being assessed a payment of almost £40,000 the previous year to a former employee who was ruled to have been unfairly dismissed.
In 2020, the owners once again listed Comlongon Castle for sale. Since being listed for sale, it has ceased trading.
Comlongon Castle Timeline
- 14th century- Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray grants the lands of Comlongon to his beloved nephew named William de Moravia, ancestor of the Murrays of Cockpool
- 15th or 16th century-Comlongon Castle is built
- 1508- The castle is mentioned in documents creating the Barony of Cockpool for John Murray
- 1621- The descendants of the Murrays are created Viscounts Stormont
- 1776- The descendants are also named as Earls of Mansfield
- 18th century- An adjacent mansion is built
- 1900- The baronial style house we see today replaces the mansion
- 1939 to 1952- The house serves as a safe children’s home operated by Barnardo’s
- 1984- Comlongon Castle is no longer part of the Earl’s estate
- 2019- The business enters administration after being assessed a payment of almost £40,000 the previous year to a former employee who was ruled to have been unfairly dismissed
- 2020- The owners once again list Comlongon Castle for sale and cease trading
Comlongon Castle facts
- The red sandstone tower is approximately 15 by 13 metres (49 by 43 ft), and 18 metres (59 ft) high to the corbelled parapet
- The entrance to the tower still retains the original yett, an iron lattice gate, in front of the door
- Some walls in the castle are up to 4.1 metres (13 ft) thick
- A walled courtyard, ditch, possibly a moat, once surrounded the tower though no trace of these remains
- Comlongon Castle and the tower house are category A listed buildings
Books on Comlongon Castle
- Jess and Jordan Lane Comlongon Castle, Scotland by Mangodays Photographic (2011)
Who owns Comlongon Castle?
The current owner, Phillip Ptolomey recalls that his parents purchased the hotel in 1984 after it had been up for sale for many years. At the time, it was suffering from serious neglect and needed to be extensively renovated.
He took the castle over in 1995 and continued to upgrade it. Writing on the hotel website, he said: “Every penny generated goes to the restoration of the castle and estate. Now, he has listed the castle for sale and ceased trading after many years.
Nowadays, Comlongon Castle is up for sale and has also ceased trading to prepare it for its new owner. This means that the castle is no longer open to the public and it is unknown when it will reopen. Nearby, you can visit the Dumfries Museum, the Robert Burns House, Gracefield Arts Centre, and Dalscone Farm Fun to make the best out of your trip.
Even if you can’t visit the castle, there is still so much to see in Dumfries.