Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ Castle wins listing battle

Slains Castle is closely associated with Bram Stoker's Gothic novel Dracula.
Slains Castle is closely associated with Bram Stoker's Gothic novel Dracula.
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The Scottish castle which inspired Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel ‘Dracula’ has had its newly acquired historic listing upheld following a challenge by a private developer.

Slains Castle, in Cruden Bay, Aberbeenshire, was awarded B-listed status earlier this year by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

But its owners - Mountwest 4 Ltd - who wanted to transform it into private flats, appealed.

However, the Scottish Government has now rejected the appeal, meaning any future transformation of the castle would require consultation between HSE and the developers.

Stoker, who lived from 1847 to 1912, took regular holidays to Cruden Bay and included a description of the castle’s octagonal room in ‘Dracula’.

“The Count halted, putting down my bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door which led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly without a window of any sort,” he wrote.

The decade-long battle to save the castle has been spearheaded by East Kilbride pensioner Joe Allan, 84, who spent childhood holidays in the area.

“I’m absolutely delighted to learn of the decision. If it hadn’t been overturned there was the risk that the developers could have gone to Court of Session and I couldn’t have afforded to keep battling on.

“I would have thought that they would see being listed as a feather in their cap, rather than a hindrance.

“The main thing now is that if it is restored it will be in a sympathetic way and hopefully this would mean maintaining access to the area around the castle for walkers, artists, photographers, dog walkers and ornithologists,” said Mr Allan, a retired civil servant.

In his judgement the reporter stated: “I conclude that New Slains Castle is indeed of special architectural and historic interest, despite the loss of its roof, floors and interior; due to its age and the rarity of elements of the building, its distinctive plan form, the quality of its design, its prominent setting, and its close historical associations with outstanding literary figures including Bram Stoker.”

Welcoming the decision,Mike Shepherd, spokesman for the Port Erroll Heritage Group, said: “Slains Castle richly deserves its listed status.

“The association with literary giants such as Bram Stoker has made the castle famous worldwide. It is to hoped the owners of Slains Castle now realise what a wonderful asset they have and will consider the tourism potential of the building.”