Castle of Mey, Caithness
~ History ~
1560's ~ The lands of Mey belonged to the Bishops of Caithness until George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness, builds himself a new Z-plan three storey castle upon an earlier fortification, for his second son William Sinclair.
1573 ~ When visiting the family seat Girnigoe Sinclair Castle, William is murdered by his older brother John, who had been imprisoned there for about six years by his cruel father. John had been planning an escape but William found out about it and told their father.
John was in turn murdered and the castle went to the third son, George Sinclair, who founded the family of the Sinclair's of Mey and whose descendant succeeded to the Earldom. He changed the name of the castle to Barrogill Castle.
The castle then became the seat of the Earls of Caithness for the next one hundred years.
1819 ~ The twelfth Earl commissioned the architect, William Burn, to make various ambitious alterations to the castle. This was when the grand entrance and the dining room were added. His son, Alexander, was responsible for erecting the monument, now known as 'Lady Fanny's seat as a tribute to his friend, Charles John Canning, who later became the first Viceroy of India.
George, the fifteenth Earl died at the age of 30; he had never married and having no children, left the castle to his friend F G Heathcote, on condition that he changed his name to Sinclair.
His widow eventually sold it to Captain F B Imbert-Terry, who subsequently sold it to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1952.
~ Legend ~
Lady Fanny, daughter of the fifth Earl of Caithness, falls in love with the son of a ploughman. Her furious father imprisons her in the attic of the castle to prevent her from meeting her lover. She does however manage to see him working in the fields below from the castle. The Earl, wanting her to forget him, has the window blocked up. In her desperate attempt to catch a glimpse of her lover from another window, having to learn out in order to do this, she slips and falls to her death.
The Caste of Mey is located on the northernmost part of Scotland, along the coast from John O' Groats. What made this such a memorable visit is the opportunity for a guided tour around the Queen Mother's former home, hearing family stories about Prince Andrew's skateboard and the young princes upon their visits to their grand-mothers remote home, and how Princess Margaret hated staying in the old drafty cold castle. This was a very different experience from our usual castle finding adventures.