Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Love and Loss 2 - Rickarton Castle

The black and white photo below of Picton's once-upon-a-time Rickarton Castle was taken by Rodger Greig and published in the Spring-Summer 1990 issue of ACORN, the ACO publication.

He explains the building's evolution: "[it] must have started as a simple symmetrical box of a house, but just before 1863 it developed the trappings of a castle: a massive square tower at one end and plenty of miscellaneous rambling additions at the other, crenellations along every roofline and shapely Tudor gothic verandahs in back to look over the harbour."

I recorded his comments about its chances for survival in a post on January 9.
symmetrical box proportions re-emerge

Picton's second castle after Villeneuve, the home was originally called Warwick House by Colonel Rylands who did the gothic facelift. A cut above your usual house, it was sold for a boarding school in 1866, then bought by shipping magnate Arthur Hepburn who renamed it Rickarton to recall family estates in the old country.

Sadly, it's remembered by most folks in town as a pretty divey beer parlour. Went there once, had a great reunion with a local cousin, when we were home on a visit from the west. Felt odd, though, like being a tourist in my own town.
another good house good-bye

Warwick/Rickarton met its end sometime in the roaring '80's. A developer had purchased the land, discovering too late that there was an historic building on the site. (I am trying to emulate Greig's famous sarcasm here). Unfortunately, the building did not fit with their plans for a development site, so it had to go. You understand.

The alternative would have been to make it the centrepiece of the housing estate. But that's seldom a solution...stripped of their property, surrounded by new builds, homes like this become anachronisms.

But lest I be accused of tying myself to every old building, I offer this bit of wisdom from Harold Wilson:

"He [and, I assume, she] who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery". 

(photo credit: mom and dad)

Be sure to venture below to the comment by a visitor to the blog, who has special recollections and memories of one of Picton's lost castles.


  1. How very sad. I have some great memories of the Rickarton from the years that my Mother in Law owned it. (1980's) We never really considered it a "pretty divey beer parlour" however. More of an original old style pub with a "colouful cast of characters".

    1. my parents run the business in the Rickarton Castle for one summer in 1989. It was so much fun being there as a late teen. I wish my parents would have purchased the Castle.
      We also had a Marina on Rice Lake and we chose to keep the Marina instead.

  2. would have been nice to preserve this house and kept it as a centre piece around all the cookie cutter buildings that would go up in its place... very sad to see the old buildings always going to waste...

  3. When I was a young child, we lived across the street from the castle, next to Gentiles fruit and vegetable stand....I also was friends with the young boy who lived there and we use to go up on the top part of the building where the pidgeons roosted. I also use to fish off an old dock that was there....This would go back to the late 50,s. My Dad was in the army and we eventually moved up to "the hill" as it was called then. I have fond memories of the theatre owned by the Cook sisters, who where very strict. I also remember Merland Park, my mom became good friends with Merle and also Lucille Teazal.....Hoping to go to Picton this summer for a visit and see how much things have changed.
    Pat Cassidy

  4. How good of you take the time to let me know that this post brought back happy memories. I remember Vince Gentile, we always stopped there for popsicles as we headed home from a town trip. Do come back for a visit, you'll be surprised.

  5. I have a curtain rod from this place and it is wooden from when it was built reg Daigle