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Email: enquiry@dollarbegcastle.com Phone: +44 (0) 7413 046 883 The Great Hall, Dollarbeg Castle, Scotland

A short history of dollarbeg castle

  • Records of Dollarbeg date back to the 13th Century, when King Alexander II granted the lands of Dollarbeg to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey in 1236; the monks retained possession of the lands until 1587 when the estate was annexed to the crown.

  • The Estate subsequently passed through many owners and records have been found from 1641 when Charles 1 life-rented it to Charles Seaton, Earl of Dunfirmline and shortly afterwards it was acquired by a family named Scotland. In 1649 the owner is shown as “John Scotland of Dollarbeg" and in 1662 a Thomas Scotland of Dollarbeg was fined £360 (equivalent to approx. £40,000 in todays money!) by "The Drunken Parliament" for espousing the covenanting cause.

  • The Scotland family divided the estate into Easter Dollarbeg ("the sunny half") and Wester Dollarbeg ("the shady half") with a mansion house being built at Easter Dollarbeg.

In 1785, Dollarbeg became the property of the 4th Duke of Atholl.

There is a record in 1877 (from the annual register for Clackmannanshire) of Dollarbeg as a residence owned by Mr. & Mrs. Adam Murray, with Mr Murray being described as “a gentleman farmer”

At some point in the 1880’s the estate was acquired by William Henry Dobie, a Victorian railway tycoon who had made his money in Canada; it was he who knocked down the old Mansion House at Easter Dollarbeg and commenced building the current house in 1887, set in over 100 acres of land, with it being finished in 1889. The architect was Stirling based Ebenezer Simpson.

The picture below is the earliest one we have so far found for Dollarbeg - it is a postcard sent in December 1902, when the house was absolutely at its peak of activity - we believe the initials on the bottom right of the card (in gold ink!) are those of the owner himself, WHD for William Henry Dobie; the card simply has a postal address on the other side (written in the same ink), so this was presumably a memento sent to a friend by the proud owner.

We are not sure when the Dobie family moved out, but in 1934 it was acquired by the Workers Travel Association (WTA) group of hotels and there are references in that same year to William Dobie, being “formerly of Dollarbeg”.

On 7th July 1934 Dollarbeg had its formal opening as a WTA guest house and there is wonderful archive footage of a holiday in Dollarbeg from 1936 which can be viewed for free here: https://player.bfi.org.uk/search/free?q=dollarbeg

At this time the Great Hall was known as “The Social Hall” (and didn't look very glamorous!) and was used for dances - a photograph of the Great Hall at this time has survived and is now framed and hanging for the enjoyment of guests in the Great Hall.

The WTA itself was an interesting organisation, founded in 1921 with the aim of providing holiday opportunities (primarily overseas) for working class people who would not otherwise be able to afford it. They did this in the hope of fostering better understanding and relations between nations by getting the ordinary people of different countries to meet and spend time together.

In early 1939 the WTA helped to secretly facilitate the evacuation by air and train of several hundred Czech refugees from Prague, a substantial number of whom were then put up in Dollarbeg while arrangements were made for their permanent settlement. It was later reported that "the refugees had made themselves very popular with people in the neighbourhood who had subscribed in money and services to help them". Most eventually went on to start new lives in Canada and the USA

In 1939 When the Air Ministry started to create a network of radar stations immediately prior to the outbreak of World War 2, Scotland came under RAF 13 Group and No. 72 Wing RAF was formed in 1941 to control all radar stations from the Tees in Northern England to the Forth. It was based in Dollarbeg Castle, and later concentrated on controlling all radar stations in Scotland.

The picture below is not dated, but the tall radio mast on the top of the Tower would suggest it was taken shortly after the end of WW2.

The picture below was taken in 1953 and shows the fine conservatory was still in place at that time

Dollarbeg became a listed building, category C(S), in 1977. At the time of the listing it was described as “An ornate baronial style mansion, now a hotel. Stands in wooded policies with extensive detached stabling and offices”.

In 1980 Dollarbeg ceased operation as a hotel and was divided into separately owned sections, with the land sold separately. During the 1980s attempts were made to market some of the sections, but issues with the multiple ownership proved an impediment to any solution.

By the early 1990s it was reported to be dangerous in parts and unfit for human habitation.

In 1990 the listing on Dollarbeg was upgraded from C(S) to B, when it was described by the listing authority as ”A fine confection of baronial detailing, very much in survival mode by this late date”

It wasn’t until 1998 that the whole house was brought back under single ownership.

After a proposal by Applecross Properties and Miller homes for restoration funded by enabling development had fallen through, the house was sold to Manor Kingdom in 2003.

Following discussions between the new owners and the planners a development brief was produced. This led to a planning application in 2004 for conversion of the house into ten flats, with 30 houses to be built in the grounds. Local residents had expressed concern at earlier plans involving new build, but at a public meeting in Dollar they accepted that it was a necessary part of any plan to save the main building. The application was approved and work ran from 2005 to 2008

At time of the sale of the 10 new apartments in 2007, two were used as “show homes” – one was the Ballroom and the other was The Great Hall.

The current owners, Andrew & Karen Lewis bought The Great Hall in 2018 and have since prepared it for use as a holiday home, as well as using it themselves as they have family in the area. It therefore became available to the holiday rental market for the very first time in 2019

 

The Dobie family

Mr William Henry Dobie & Mrs Eva Wilson (who was from Canada) were married in 1886

Grace Eva Dobie was born 5th march 1887 and died 18th sept 1888 – the Dobie’s later commissioned a memorial window inscribed to her in Dollar church

WH Dobie became a Justice of the Peace in 1893

In 1893 – one of their two surviving daughters was born at Dollarbeg

WH Dobie became a County Councillor for Kinross in 1895, a post he still held in 1903

Every year there was an annual supper and dance for the staff of Dollarbeg, with it being written up in the local newspaper, the Alloa Advertiser, in 1902 & 1903

1908 – Dollarbeg hosted the coming out party for elder miss Dobie

In 1911 W.H. Dobie was recorded as chair of the local masonic lodge

In May 1911 – Mr & Mrs Dobie celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at Dollarbeg

In 1914 Miss Eleanor Welsh Dobie, younger daughter of William Henry Dobie, was married to Lieutentant Herbert Masterman Hughes, Royal Navy, in Dollar Parish Church

In 1918 Mary Louise, elder daughter of William Henry Dobie, was married

 

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