Scotland has strong links with America and with a previous American President, before the recent relationship with Donald Trump. Glasgow’s wealth and prosperity in the 18th century was due to its position on the west coast, facing out to the Atlantic and across to America and the Caribbean, and, following the Union of 1707, with the Tobacco Lords making their fortune through trade with the former English colonies and also with the French territories.
Glasgow ships were larger, designed specifically for the American crossing and could reduce the travelling time by two or three weeks over that of other British and European ports, until the American War of Independence disrupted things.
Robert Adam’s masterpiece, Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, stands on a cliff facing out to the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, it is said that you can see the coast of Ireland; on a wet rainy day it is pretty bleak. The Castle too has links with America. The grandfather of Archibald Kennedy the 11th Earl of Cassilis was the infamous Jacob Leisler who had been the New York colonial governor and was wrongly executed for treason in 1691. Archibald lived in New York at 1 Broadway until the death of the 10th Earl, who died childless in 1792, and Archibald inherited the Earldom and the new castle of Culzean.
One of Robert Adam’s later houses, Culzean Castle was built on the cliffs overlooking the ocean for the 10th Earl of Cassilis between 1777 and 1790 with the main rooms planned round a grand oval staircase and the commission also including a model farm which today functions as a visitor centre, restaurant and shop.
When the Kennedy Family donated the castle to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945, the top floor apartment was given to General Eisenhower in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. Eisenhower stayed at the castle four times, including once while President of the United States.
The estate has its own gashouse, while caves in the cliff below the house may relate to a previous castle on the site and were reputedly used for smuggling, fugitives and storage of illicit goods. Trust hopes to open these up to the public after archaeological investigations.