Kenya // The National Parks and Mombasa Highway //

Grogan’s Castle

Grogan’s Castle, a white and red mansion on an isolated hill rising from the plain, deserves a little detour. This extraordinary residence was built during World War II by Ewart Grogan, one of the most influential early colonists. His mixed reputation was founded on a walk from the Cape to Cairo, which he undertook in 1898, on a notorious public flogging that he carried out on three of his servants (nearly killing one of them), and on his wealth: his status was such that he was able to dictate terms to the governor of Kenya before he even arrived in the colony, and at the peak of his prosperity his holdings extended to more than 2500 square kilometres.

The “castle”, which Grogan hoped would become a government agricultural training school (it never was), was run-down for decades, during which time it provided roosts for birds, bats and insects. It’s an enigmatic building, part hacienda, part folly, with huge arched windows that catch every breeze. The enormous circular main lounge gives spectacular 360-degree views out towards Kilimanjaro and Lake Jipe. The current owners, the high-profile former Taveta MP, Basil Criticos, and his wife, have opened it as a quirky hotel and refurbishment is gradually taking place.

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