History

The castle has its origins in the late 14th century and was subject to an exhaustive restoration project through the 1980's, which won an award in 1989 for the best domestic restoration in Inverclyde.

Refurbished with great sympathy and an eye on historical authenticity, the upgrading was achieved with the approval of Historic Scotland and under the supervision of Edinburgh architect, Ian Begg. Period materials were resourced with a view to create, not a mere period piece, but an elegant, spacious and comfortable family home.

Visually appealing and immediately striking, the comfortable living accommodation is complemented by the hallmarks of a 14th-century castle, including turnpike staircases, parapet walkways, turret, crow step gable and gun loops.

Possibly one of the oldest inhabited homes in Renfrewshire, the castle, which is set over four levels, lies within landscaped garden grounds with entrance courtyard and broad lawned areas to the rear, and its westerly perimeter is bound by a free-flowing burn with waterfall.

The entrance is from the courtyard to the hall area, with linking stairs leading to upper levels. A turreted turnpike staircase leads to the Great Hall. This impressively proportioned room has two walk-in window recesses plus broad hearth and extends to approximately 25 feet. The pine ceiling was reclaimed from a 17th-century Coats' mill in Johnstone and has been decorated in a 16th century style by Norman Edgar, president of the Glasgow Art Club and member of the Royal Scottish Academy.

The dining kitchen has a large area for a table and there is a restored sandstone arch leading to the kitchen with a two oven Aga, which provides warmth and cooking facilities. Marble worktop surfaces are complemented with marble splashbacks, which were reclaimed from a Helensbourgh grocery store.

Following the turreted turnpike stairwell leading to the third level is the master bedroom, with a beamed ceiling following over almost one entire level of the tower. On the fourth floor there is the lady's bedroom with ornamental ceiling and walls lined in a reclaimed pine and restored flooring. A further turnpike leads to a secondary higher turreted level with chimney heads and flagpole.

Throughout the castle authentic materials have been use, including studded oak doors, hand-wrought ironmongery and stone flagging on lower floors. The flagstones are a reclamation of Greenock paving stones; there is mahogany flooring on the upper level, stone features have been retained and highlighted where possible, and windows occupy their original positions within the building.

The castle, which is grade B listed, is one of historical significance occupying a dominant situation and consists of two towers joined at one corner dating from two periods. The castle was originally constructed in approximately 1457 on the site which is believed to have archaeological links to an earlier possible Roman site.

Constructed by the Morton family, the second tower was added approximately 50 years later. In 1547 the castle was sold to the Semple family and this exchange has given rise to the appearance of the 'White Lady' whose apparition dates from a period where Marion Montgomery was sentenced to death for the murder of her tenants, by Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots, but later the sentence was commuted to house arrest. On his return from military service, Marion's husband was so appalled to hear of his wife's behaviour that he imprisoned her and starved her to death.

In the 17th century, Castle Levan was taken over by the Shaw Stewarts, owners of the neighbouring Ardgowan estate, who installed their son into Levan. It was during this era that the 'White Lady', assumed to be Marion Montgomery, was reported as appearing at the castle.

The castle fell into disrepair on the construction of a new manor house in its gardens. The programme of the refurbishment and reconstruction of the castle began in 1980 and the full refurbishment was achieved between 1984 and 1987.