Film documents castle couple’s heartbreak

Inverquharity Castle, Alisoun and Sandy Grant's home for 40 years.
Inverquharity Castle, Alisoun and Sandy Grant's home for 40 years.

An Angus couple are to this week star in a BBC documentary telling the story of their castle home which they rescued and restored from ruin.

‘Keys to the Castle’ documents Alisoun and Sandy Grant’s final days at Inverquharity Castle as they prepare to sell up and leave after 40 years living in the 15th century building.

Award winning film-maker Darren Hercher followed Sandy and Alisoun during their final few months in the castle to produce a touching and often funny one-hour film as they come to terms with the emotional and practical difficulties of leaving a home they have loved.

The castle, near Kirriemuir, was built originally in the 1440s by Alexander Ogilvie, second Lord Inverquharity, as a rectangular tower but was extended in the 16th century with the addition of another wing to form a four-storey L-plan castle.

It was sold in the late 18th century and was left to decay until the Grants rescued it from ruin in the early 1970s and rebuilt and painstakingly restored it, after they returned to Scotland from their life in Africa.

As the challenges of age took their toll, Alisoun, for the first time in her long marriage to Sandy, had to take control of the couple’s future and make increasingly difficult decisions about their day-to-day lives and future.

The hardest truth for her to accept was that living in the castle had become impossible. As the move approaches, and their lives are turned upside down, the film follows Alisoun as she faces the daunting task of downsizing from a castle to a bungalow.

As she points out: “We have registered our interest in a horizontal house.”

This documentary gently explores the heartbreaking reasons behind their decision to sell, while also portraying the couple’s unwavering commitment and love.

It also provides an engaging insight into their life there, the practicalities of downsizing and Alisoun’s indomitable spirit as she packs up a lifetime’s worth of items and takes a succession of prospective buyers around the castle.

As one prospective buyer says to her: “I think you’re splendid.”

‘Keys to the Castle’ will be shown tonight (Thursday) on BBC 2 at 9 p.m.