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Century in Care for Wicked Knight's Castle

7 April 2009

Newark Castle – once home to the notorious murderer and wife-beater Sir Patrick Maxwell – is marking 100 years in state care.

Despite his wickedness the laird was a man of impeccable architectural taste and in the 1590s he remodelled his home by the Clyde in the latest Renaissance style.

In later centuries the castle was largely obscured by the huge shipyard developments of Port Glasgow.

But it saw off the Industrial Revolution – coming into state care in 1909.

Historic Scotland is currently engaged in a long-term project which involves investigating and conserving the roof and the finely-carved dormer windows in the north range.

Adrian Cox, Historic Scotland cultural resources advisor, said: “Newark Castle makes a lovely place to visit – the architecture is magnificent; it is in a spectacular location overlooking the Clyde and is packed with history.

“This year marks another landmark in the castle’s story as it has now been in state care for a century.

“Right now we are carrying out work to conserve the roof, and are assessing what needs to be done to conserve the lovely, but weather-worn carvings on the north range, which was built by Sir Patrick in 1597.

“Being in the care of Historic Scotland means people have access to this wonderful piece of national heritage, one of the finest buildings to survive from this period in Scotland, and ensures it is kept in good condition for future generations.”

Notes for editors

  • Parts of Newark Castle date back to the late 15th century, but the castle was extensively remodelled in the 1590s when Sir Patrick built the north range and the east wing.

  • The castle is in Port Glasgow, beside the A8 at the Newark Roundabout. Telephone 01475 741858.

  • Tickets are £3.70 for adults, £3 for concessions and £1.85 for children.

About Sir Patrick Maxwell

  • A cultured man of refined architectural tastes, Sir Patrick Maxwell was a justice of the peace and a friend of the king. He was also notorious as a murderer and wife beater. His terrible deeds unfolded in one of Scotland’s most elegant settings.

  • Sir Patrick was the owner of Newark Castle, outside Glasgow, where he built a beautiful new range in the 1590s, incorporating the latest Renaissance features. The castle was set amidst fine orchards and formal gardens. Among his most bitter enemies were the Montgomeries of Skelmorlie – in 1584 he murdered two of them in one day. He was even implicated in the death of his own kinsman, Patrick Maxwell of Stanley Castle.

  • Perhaps worst of all was the treatment of his wife, Lady Margaret, who bore him 16 children during 44 terrible years of marriage. She was beaten and even attacked with a sword – eventually fleeing to live in Dumbarton, in poverty. Unusually for the day, Lady Margaret tried to take action to have her ‘unkind and unnatural husband’ restrained. Sadly, being a man of power and guile Sir Patrick was always able to avoid answering for his crimes. Matters finally looked set to be brought to a head when Lady Margaret arranged for her husband to go on trial in Edinburgh. Again Sir Patrick’s escaped punishment – but this time because he fell ill and died.

Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information


Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871
rebecca.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk