Seaforth Lodge was a 17th century tower house which was later incorporated into the 19th century Lews Castle.
The Isle of Lewis passed from the MacLeods to the Mackenzies in the 16th century and it was they who built Seaforth Lodge.
In 1844 Sir James Matheson bought the Isle of Lewis and Great Bernera from Mrs Stewart-Mackenzie of Seaforth for £190,000 and commissioned the architect Charles Wilson to build Lews Castle. Work continued from 1847 until 1851 and cost some £60,000. For many years it was assumed that Seaforth Lodge had been entirely demolished before work commenced however it is now thought that parts of the older building were actually incorporated into the new one.
In 1917 William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme, bought the castle and in 1923 gifted it and 64,000 acres of parkland to the people of Stornoway.
The castle was used as a naval hospital during the Second World War and from 1953 was administered by Ross & Cromarty County Council. It was subsequently used as accommodation for Lews Castle College, which was built within the grounds, until 1988 but by 1996 it was empty and in disrepair.
During conservation work at the start of the 21st century elements of the older building were uncovered, particularly in the kitchen and hallway where a lime-harled wall was revealed. Two original doorways were identified in the hallway, one of which was blocked during the construction of Lews Castle. Two reworked corbels, one featuring a water spout and a possible stringcourse, from the old tower can be seen on the new bell tower.
Lews Castle was awarded £4.6 million in 2011 by the Heritage Lottery Fund in order for it to be restored and converted into a bilingual museum and cultural centre. In 2016 the ground floor of the castle reopened with public access to the restored ballroom and a café.
Alternative names for Seaforth Lodge
Lewis Castle; Lews Castle