A restored 450-year-old castle in the Highlands of Scotland
Surrounded by Glenisla’s stunning scenery,the 450-year-old Forter Castle is a luxurious 16th century castle located in the heart of Scotland’s countryside inside the magnificent Cairngorm National Park. Katharine Pooley, one of the most sought-after interior designers, and her father Robert Pooley have lovingly and painstakingly restored Forter Castle back to its former glory over the years from 1988 to present day.
All 21st century creature comforts have been added whilst retaining complete authenticity with the castle’s original history. Forter Castle is a perfect venue for Highland retreats, weddings and special occasion celebrations.
Built by the Ogilvys of Airlie as a fortified house in 1560, Forter Castle has undergone a 450-year history until it was destroyed by the Campbells of Argyll as a result of feuding between the clans in 1640. The castle lay in ruins for more than three hundred years before Robert Pooley and his daughter Katharine resurrected the pile of rubble.
Since 1988, the father-daughter duo have worked closely with Scottish Heritage on the restoration, after two years of meticulous renovations, Katharine Pooley took over the interior design and carefully restored each of the rooms. The Baronial-styled appearance of Forter Castle reflects Scotland’s faultless heritage, Katharine’s interior design has incorporated antiquated touches to reflect a quintessentially Scottish feel, whilst exuding a warm, comfortable and welcoming ambiance throughout.
Katharine Pooley’s splendid design in a historic Scottish Castle
At the stunning heart of the castle, the Great Hall is a magnificent hall which spans the entire width of the castle and is furnished with traditional Scottish furniture whilst still enjoying modern day comforts. An inlet log fireplace dominates one side of the Great Hall, whilst mahogany shelving displaying antique books borders the north side. Katharine furnished the Great Hall traditionally with a vast stone fireplace, mahogany bookcases, two large classic sofas, wing back chairs upholstered in the finest goatskin leather and a dining table that seats sixteen.
Katharine pays particular attention to the use of antler candelabra to complete the space with crystal goblets glimmering below wrought iron chandeliers. Red candles and flowers reflect both the rich hues of the hand painted ceiling overhead and the crimson detailing of the swords by Pooley Sword mounted above the fireplace.
Forter Castle‘s narrow spiral staircase leads to five bedrooms named after Katharine Pooley’s siblings and the spectacular Laird’s Room with dramatic views of the Highlands. The Laird’s Room is the most superior and a self-contained glamorous bedroom with a king-sized four poster Ralph Lauren bed canopied with cranberry silk and a large sofa by the side with walls upholstered in British wool by De le Cuona. The combination of vast soft textures entices guests to gently settle in this luxurious but cocooning space.
Featuring an open plan bathroom where a roll top bath and free-standing brass Drummonds shower are found, a sophisticated and intimate ambience fills up this spacious haven. Cleverly picked by Katharine’s team, beautiful antiques and grand paintings are employed to amplify the sophisticated style of the Laird’s bedroom.
The historic Scottish feel permeates throughout the castle with Katharine tailoring each bedroom with different design components to reflect the unique lifestyle and personality of each family member.
Holland and Sherry Saville Row tweed lines the walls of Sebastian’s and Julian’s rooms to allow a harmonious ambiance. Arriving at Sebastian’s Room where Katharine’s expertise and eye for detail can be found, the wood and antique furniture are complemented with a leather armchair to set a refined tone. The luxurious touches of Johnsons of Elgin cashmere, printed cushions and checkered throws lavish Julian’s masculine ensuite room.
While working on the interior, Katharine perfectly balanced the harmony between masculine and feminine design. The rich purple hues of Katharine’s Room sit perfectly within and around the carved wooden four poster bed. To fuel the sophistication of the room, Katharine has layered the space with upholstered cushions and throws together with the opulent representation of a starburst canopy manifesting Katharine’s styled elegance throughout the space.
Furnished with deep buttoned stools upholstered in a houndstooth wool, dressing table and a cosy armchair by the fireplace, the finishes of Samantha’s room are tactile and warm to set a perfect tone for an unmistakably inviting and cosy bedroom.
Robert’s Room serves as a perfect secluded paradise in the castle. Incorporating the built-in bookcases, Katharine placed the enormous reading materials and a deep buttoned sofa allowing guests to explore the literature legacy.
Antiques and history
To unveil the Castle’s fascinating history, Katharine commissioned artist Jenny Merridew to present the full tale of the Castle with an exquisite hand-painted ceiling mural overhead in The Great Hall which depicts the traditional Scottish song “The Bonnie House of Airlie”, which evokes the past and traces the castle’s visual history. Katharine also decorated the Castle with antiques and her family heirlooms, adding heritage touches to the property.
Pooley Swords, known as a traditionally forged British weapon that meets the fine standards expected by the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces, are mounted above the stone fireplace in The Great Hall, gracing the Castle with truly traditional British glory in the 20th Century.
The heritage details extend into the five bedrooms, including a castellated wardrobe, Swedish empire mirror, antique washstand and bureau in the turret. Pooley’s team carefully selected the antique items to perfectly revive a British wealthy family in the 1800s.
Katharine Pooley also brought in her family heirlooms to the Castle by embellishing family tweed and tartan, old photographs and art pieces to commemorate the long history of the Pooley family as well as Forter Castle. “My father had driven past the crumbling castle for thirty years, always dreaming of restoring a small piece of Scottish history,” said Katharine Pooley. Each carefully selected large piece of antique furniture and accessory is priceless and had to either brought up the narrow stone staircase in pieces or winched carefully up the side of the castle.
A perfect venue for an intimate Highland wedding
The Chapel in the basement turns the Castle into an ideal venue for intimate Highland weddings, accommodating 16 – 24 adults to witness the sacred marriage ceremony. Set against the Perthshire Hills, the magnificent views and the classic baronial architectural design of the Castle create a photogenic backdrop for photoshoots on the special day. Being part of the heritage, the splendid-interior-designed Forter Castle is regarded as a sacred presence to eternal love.
The Perthshire and Angus region where Forter Castle is located boasts an array of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, popular activities include horseback riding, golfing, mountain biking and skiing, all set amidst the most stunning scenery.
Available for weddings and exclusive hire
Forter Castle is available to rent for wedding occasions and for an exclusive self-catered stay accommodating 12-16 people and maximum of 3 well-trained dogs.