Wealthy American church minister buys medieval Scottish castle

(Photo: Dr Betsee Parker)Dr Betsee Parker is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School

A millionaire church minister from the US has bought a 15th century castle in the north-east of Scotland with plans to turn it from a luxury hotel into her private home. 

Ackergill Tower in Caithness was once a garrison for Oliver Cromwell's troops but had in recent years been a five-star hotel.

Stars reported to have stayed at the tower in its time as a hotel include Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson. 

The stunning castle sits on the rugged coastline close to Wick and was a popular holiday and wedding destination until it closed in December, with the loss of 40 jobs. 

Now, after being bought by Episcopalian church minister Dr Betsee Parker, it will be turned into a private home. 

The Scotsman reports that Dr Parker, a widowed American philanthropist and the 17th Baroness of Lochiel, plans to use the historic building as a holiday home. 

The tower, which is believed to date back to 1475, sits in 30 acres of ground along the North Coast 500 route that is popular with motorists and cyclists. 

(Photo: Clarenco)Ackergill Tower in Caithness

It has been in the possession of Clarenco since 2009, having been bought by one of its divisions, AmaZing Venues in 2009. 

In 2012, the 32-bedroom castle was given a £2m refurb after which it received a five-star rating.  Clarenco put it on the market in 2015 and it was reportedly snapped up last year for £3.9 million, below the original asking price of £4.5 million. 

In addition to the tower, the property comes with a luxury treehouse, six cottages, a boathouse and a bothy. 

Highland Council last month approved Dr Parker's request to convert the hotel back into a private home.

Dafydd Jones, planning manager at Highland Council, was quoted by The Scotsman as saying: 'Residential use is considered appropriate for the building because it re-establishes its original purpose and ensures its continued occupation.'

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