Tullibole Castle was built in the early 17th century, and despite there being a church nearby dating back to at least the 13th century and possibly earlier, there doesn’t seem to have been a castle prior to the current one.
One of the earliest mentions of Tullibole is in letters patent dated 1304, from the reign of Edward I, calling it Tullibotheville. The same year there is a memorandum stating that Edward had wanted to build a castle there, but couldn’t find a suitable site.
In the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland in 1372 there is a ratification of a charter of William, Earl of Ross, which mentions “John de Hay, lord of Tullibolle” within a list of landowners. However it isn’t clear if the lord of Tullibole and John de Hay are one and the same.
By 1490 Tullibole was in the possession of the Herring (also spelt Hering or Heron) family, with a charter from the year showing James Herring of Glasclune granting the lands of Tullibole to his son James Herring of Cluny.
Some time in the 16th century, probably in 1598, Tullibole passed to the Halliday family. The first Halliday owner was a John Halliday, who is thought to have built the majority of the current castle, completing it in 1608.
The castle is arranged east to west, and measures around 19.4 metres in that direction by around 8.4 metres north to south. At the east end of the south front is a projecting square tower which contains the main staircase. Above the door is a carved panel with the date 2nd of April 1608, and the arms and initials of John Halliday and his wife Helen Oliphant.
The ground floor is divided into three rooms and originally the entrance gave access to the central room via an intramural passageway. However this doorway was later bricked up, and converted into a pantry, and a doorway created into the kitchen at the east end of the building.
There is a narrow passageway into the western room, and the same into the kitchen at the east end. A straight staircase within the thickness of the wall at the north-east corner of the central room was the service stair giving access to the main hall above, while a spiral staircase within a turret at the north-west corner gives leads to all the upper floors.
The main staircase leads up to the first floor, where the main hall occupies the eastern two-thirds of the building, measuring around 9.9 metres long by around 5.5 metres wide. Behind a thick wall, and accessed via a small lobby, is a private chamber. The lobby, within the thickness of the wall, also leads to the spiral staircase. On the second floor is a garret level.
Although the castle was built in one stage at the start of the 17th century, looking at the floor plan, the number of staircases, and the stylistic differences between the west end of the building and the central and eastern section, it’s tempting to speculate that the western end contains the remnants of an earlier keep.
However when the harling was stripped off in the late 20th century, there was no join between the western end and the rest of the castle, and it seems that it was intentionally built to look as if it consisted of an older tower to which a newer extension had been grafted on.
In 1722 Catherine Halliday, the eldest daughter and heiress of another John Halliday, married the Reverend Archibald Moncreiff, minister of Blackford. Upon her death in 1740, Tulliebole Castle passed into the Moncreiff family and remains with them to this day.
Around 1790 the family ran into financial difficulties, and to generate some income stripped off the roof and sold it to the owner of Glendevon Castle. Their luck evidently changed, as by the turn of the century the castle was roofed once again, and a dormer carved with the date 1801 commemorates this.
In the 20th century Harry Moncreiff, the 5th Baron Moncreiff of Tulliebole removed some of the Victorian alterations that had been made to the castle, and reinstated some of the older features. It is currently occupied by Rhoderick Moncreiff, Harry’s son and the 6th Baron Moncreiff, and his wife Alison, who run it as a bed and breakfast.