Sunday, 17 August 2014

Monkey Pagoda, Culzean

Even among the architectural show-stoppers of Culzean in Ayrshire, the Chinese Monkey Pagoda comes as a surprise. Some believe it is by Robert Lugar and was built along with the swan pond, the duck house and the aviary in 1814. Others think,  that it was not built until 1860, by the 2nd Marquis of Ailsa, a man whose great passions were hunting in the winter and sailing in the summer.

At the top of the tiered pagoda the Cassillis family would have taken tea, while various creatures would have lived beneath. At one time it was an aviary, at others it was lived in by swans, but the most exotic inhabitant was a monkey- it is known locally as the Monkey House.

By the 1930's the pagoda was a roofless ruin. In 1997 it was restored to its full glory by the National Trust for Scotland , the balustrades of the staircases decorated with monkey's tails, and a monkey cavorting on top of the weathervane.