Saturday, April 05, 2014
Loving Kellie's Folly
There are not many castles in Malaysia, and certainly not ones open to the public, so one man's folly is truly a fortune for someone like me. This is Kellie's Castle, set in Batu Gajah, in the state of Perak north of Kuala Lumpur.
Also known as Kellie's Folly, it was built by Scotsman William Kellie Smith for his family, but abandoned following his death [read the tragic backstory here]. It's not a real castle, of course, but a wealthy plantation owner's dream of a magnificent mansion for his heir, and as some say, to be the Joneses of the time.
Whatever his reasons, Kellie's Castle stands as beautiful in its bare bones as it would have been if completed. To me maybe even better, as the rough bricks, crumbling mortar and unfinished windows give it the air of a true European castle. An expert architect suggests that finished, the mansion would probably have looked a bit different, and completely painted over, so I do like it this way.
Built in the early 1900s [work started in 1905], it's also just magnificent in its architecture and layout. There is a six-storey tower that would have been serviced by the country's first elevator, while the main part of the mansion features rooms with high ceilings plus accompanying decor details like corniches, secret stairwells and arches. The flat roof gives me the chills standing near the edge, but imagine what a rooftop party would have been like!