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Carbisdale Castle in summer

Carbisdale Castle in summer

he Castle was built between 1906 and 1917 for the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, a lady with a rather colourful history… Mary Caroline Mitchell, the daughter of Rev. Richard Mitchell, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, was first married to Captain Arthur Kindersely Blair of the 71st Highland Light Infantry. He was shot and died from his wounds in a hunting accident near Pitlochry in 1883. Her second marriage in 1889, was to George Granville William Sutherland Levenson-Gower, 3rd Duke and 18th Earl of Sutherland, making her the Duchess.

Carbisdale Castle in summer

he became known as the “Duchess Blair”. This marriage was very unpopular with the Sutherland family, so much so that when the Duke died in 1892 his will,which was made almost totally in favour of Duchess Blair, was contested by his son and heir. In the ensuing legal proceedings the Duchess was found guilty of contempt of court for destroying documents and was imprisoned for six weeks in Holloway Prison, London.

n agreement was finally reached giving her a substantial financial settlement. In addition the Sutherland family agreed to build a residence befitting her station, at their expense and to her specifications, provided that it was outside the Sutherland lands. Duchess Blair employed a firm of Ayrshire builders to construct the castle just over the county boundary in neighbouring Ross-shire. Work started in 1906 but the castle was not finally completed until 1917.

uchess Blair’s third marriage was to a London Member of Parliament Sir Albert Kay Rollit. (South Islington). In 1933, the castle was bought by Colonel Theodore Salvesen, the wealthy Scottish businessman of Norwegian extraction and head of the Christian Salvesen shipping and whaling company of Leith. Several generations had established the Salvesens as a family of distinction, with diplomatic and military honours.

hrough Colonel Salvesen’s consular connections he provided King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav (later King Olav V) with a safe refuge at Carbisdale during the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II, and during that time the castle was the venue of an important meeting.

fter Germany attacked Russia on 22nd June, 1941, King Haakon presided at the “Carbisdale Conference” which led to an agreement by the Allies which ensured that Russian forces, should they enter Norwegian territory, would not remain there after the war.

resent at the conference were King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olav, the Norwegian Chiefs of Staff including the Commander in Chief General Carl Fleischer, the British General Thorne, Col. Sir John Aird and Col. Salvesen. The Red Army entered Norway on 25th October 1944, in pursuit of the German 28th (Lapland) Army and captured thirty towns including Kirkenes, but later withdrew in terms of the agreement. After Col. Salvesen’s death his son Captain Harold Salvesen inherited the castle and in 1945 he gifted the castle, its contents and the estate to the Scottish Youth Hostels Association. Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel opened to members on 2nd June 1945.