The secret castle , the farmer and the judge

edinburgh castle screensavers
Edinburgh Castle ( not the secret castle)

If you want to build your own castle and the local planning laws prevent it , what do you do ? Well, you could do what a farmer did – he built his castle and hid it for 4 years behind straw bales . Robert Fidler (sic) thought he could not be prosecuted after 4 years for breaking the planning law . Unfortunately a High Court judge took a different view and told him to demolish it .

A High Court judge ruled that Robert Fidler, 60, who sneakily built the luxury home – complete with ramparts and a cannon – deceived the local planning authority and was not entitled to benefit from the deception.

Mr Fidler, 60, from Surrey in southwest England, hoped to get another chance at gaining planning permission to keep his dream home.

He moved into the massive castle with his wife Linda and their son Harry in 2002 and successfully hid it from local authorities for four years by stacking up straw bales.

He took away the bales in May 2006 because he thought that after four years, his new home was immune from planning enforcement controls.

But the local council issued a notice in March 2007 requiring that it be demolished on the grounds that the building was erected without planning permission.

A government planning inspector rejected Mr Fidler’s appeal in May 2008, saying the removal of the straw bale camouflage constituted part of the building works.

The inspector said Mr Fidler could not rely on the four-year immunity period and must demolish the building.

The court considered whether the removal of the hay bales and tarpaulin was, in the eyes of the law, part of the ongoing building operation.

Ruling that it was, judge Sir Thayne Forbes said: “In my view, the inspector’s findings of fact make it abundantly clear that the erection (and) removal of the straw bales was an integral … part of the building operations that were intended to deceive the local planning authority and to achieve by deception lawful status for a dwelling built in breach of planning control.”[poll id=”1”] Continue reading The secret castle , the farmer and the judge

Eilean Donan Castle pictures at night screensaver

Eilean Donan Castle pictures at night 31456
Eilean Donan Castle at night , HDR photo

Eilean Donan Castle is one of my favourite castles in Scotland , mainly because of the stunning location and ample photo opportunities .  My picture of the castle at night is an HDR photo which is now available as a screensaver. The castle can be photographed from 3 sides . Eilean Donan means Island of Donan ( a religious figure from the 12 th century ). Eilean Donan was Clan MacKenzie’s most important stronghold from the 13th Century until it was destroyed in 1719 by 3 English frigates attacking the Spanish garrison .

Robert the Bruce was given refuge in Eilean Donan Castle by John MacKenzie, Second of Kintail when he was being hunted by the English at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Above the entrance to the castle there is a Gaelic inscription which translates as : As long as there is a MacRae inside, there will never be a Fraser outside. Inside the courtyard is the famous Murchison Stone with an inscription about John Murchison of Auchtertyre who was killed in the Battle of Sherrifmuir in 1715. In the upper floor inside the castle there are six bedrooms named Loch Alsh,Loch Long, Eilean Donan, Ballimore, Loch Duich and Conchra. There is also a panel with the names of the constables ( guardians ) of the castle carved on it.
Eilean Donan Castle was originally built in 1220 and owned by the MacKenzies of Kintail. The MacRae Clan who settled in the area came from the Beauly Firth where they had protected the Clan Fraser.They acted as bodyguards to the MacKenzie chiefs. Although there was a number of disputes, the MacKenzies held Eilean Donan right up until until the 16th century. The MacRaes first became Constables of the Castle in 1511 with a lot of control over the surrounding area. A feud between the MacKenzies and the McLeods of Dunvegan, over the disputed claims of Donald Gorm MacDonald to the title of Lord of the Isles, came to a head when he attacked the Castle with 50 galleys. He was shot and killed by Duncan MacRae with a single arrow. The Castle was garrisoned by Government troops but later retaken by the Jacobites before the Battle of Sheriffmuir.