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Restoration of Inverness's famous Rose Window under way


By Philip Murray

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Pictured with the Rose Window are, top left, Thomas Prag, Rotarian and top right Colin Munro, President of the Rotary Club of Inverness, front left Alison Milligan ACR, Specialist, Iona Art Glass and front Right Cllr Ian Brown, Leader of Inverness City and Area and co-chair of the Inverness Castle Project Delivery Group. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon Photography.
Pictured with the Rose Window are, top left, Thomas Prag, Rotarian and top right Colin Munro, President of the Rotary Club of Inverness, front left Alison Milligan ACR, Specialist, Iona Art Glass and front Right Cllr Ian Brown, Leader of Inverness City and Area and co-chair of the Inverness Castle Project Delivery Group. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon Photography.

RESTORATION work has begun at last on a famous landmark and piece of Inverness art which has sat in storage for decades but is finally set to return to the public eye in the near future.

The iconic 'Rose Window' will take pride of place inside the new Inverness Castle Experience when the visitor attraction opens its doors in 2025.

The window, which dates back to 1867, became a popular symbol of Inverness in the years following installation in the gable end of a Methodist church in Inglis Street.

The building – which had since become a restaurant – was later torn down as part of road layout changes in the area in the 1980s.

But, despite not being listed, the window was deemed to be of "sufficient architectural merit" to be preserved and it was carefully placed into storage.

So began its decades-long absence from the public eye as it sat waiting for a new home.

Hopes that it might be installed somewhere within the then new Eastgate Centre – whose construction led to the road layout changes that doomed its former home – sadly came to nothing, as too did the possibility that it could become part of a revamped façade at Inverness Railway Station.

Alison Milligan ACR, Specialist, Iona Art Glass and colleague removing panels from the Rose Window for refurbishment. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon Photography.
Alison Milligan ACR, Specialist, Iona Art Glass and colleague removing panels from the Rose Window for refurbishment. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon Photography.

However, its long wait to return to the limelight is finally nearing an end, and work is now under way on its restoration ahead of its installation within the castle.

Experts from Iona Art Glass, specialists in conserving and restoring stained glass, are carrying out the work.

The painstaking process first will see the glass being removed from the stone frame at its storage location.

Cllr Ian Brown, leader of Inverness City and Area and co-chairman of the Inverness Castle Project Delivery Group, said: “It is exciting to see this beautiful window starting its restoration journey after being stored for so long. It is fascinating and a little bit nerve wracking to watch the level of detail and care involved in removing the glass panels piece by piece from the stonework. I can’t wait to see it, in pride of place, inside the castle.

“This historical window is not only a physical reminder of Inverness’ identity but one which will now go on to tell unique stories about places and people living in the Highlands through the Inverness Castle Experience.”

The Rotary Club are providing financial sponsorship to support the restoration process. The Inverness Club have confirmed their contribution but have put a call out to other clubs to see if they want to do likewise.

Colin Munro, President of the Rotary Club of Inverness, said: “Inverness Rotarians were inspired to promote and support the transformation of the Rose Window by the strong visual similarities between its design and the ‘wheel and spoke’ symbol of the international Rotary movement.

“The restored window in all its splendour will stand as a symbolic recognition of over a 100 years of Rotary community service in Inverness and throughout the Highlands and Islands.”

The Inverness Castle Experience project, opening in 2025, will benefit from £30 million investment to support its re-development from the Scottish and UK governments, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a range of other partners.

The Inverness Castle Experience project is part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.

Related: EXPLAINED: The 'rose window' will form a key part of the Inverness Castle transformation – what is it, and why does it matter?


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