Proposal for Seminary Complex. Image: Erz
Vision of Kilmahew Walled Garden. Image: Erz
The castle, Kilmahew.
St Peters Seminary altar. Photo: James Johnson
Rhododendron tunnel, Kilmahew. Photo: James Johnson
Chapel during mass, St Peter’s Seminary.
Prayer Room, St Peter’s Seminary.
St Peters Seminary in the early years
Teaching Block, St Peter’s Seminary.
Kilmahew House and St Peter’s Seminary.
Kilmahew: the garden.
Kilmahew House
Kilmahew Rock Garden
Kilmahew / St Peter’s imagined future
Kilmahew / St Peters on site community day 2010

Kilmahew / St Peter’s


The Vision

NVA has produced a practical and ambitious public scheme to rescue and re-invigorate Kilmahew / St Peter’s, the world renowned former estate and 20th century religious college complex that sits shrouded in beautiful woodland near the Firth of Clyde in west Scotland. The approach is based on partial restoration and new design, and represents the last chance to save this valuable resource from irreversible ruination.

Abandoned since the late 1980s, every structure on the Kilmahew / St Peter’s site, from medieval to modern, has been reduced to ruins. Brutal, beautiful, romantic, ravaged, spiritual, shocking – the site has many sides.

The ideals of 20th century modernism are worth holding onto. Although we live in austere times, we should not let go of the spirit in which St Peter’s was built: a spirit of working to improve things and imagining a better world. Rather than rubbing off the hard edges to create a linear, polished version of the past, the intention is to preserve a raw sense of otherness, excitement and revelation.

The focus will be on a new model of regeneration with fresh ideas and imagination at its heart. The vision is that Kilmahew / St Peter’s will become a vibrant arts landscape, offering a range of spaces and possibilities for creativity.

A working landscape will be created – a place to do things and be involved in generating the site’s future. The collective actions that will bring Kilmahew / St Peter’s back to fruition will take many years, but every step has value in the site’s transformation from its current state of glorious abandonment.

Public quotes;

‘The site always has a sense that you can always find something new. It has a sense of mystery.’

‘I like the wild, unspoiled nature of the grounds without the formality of signs. It’s a place of discovery in an age of spoon-fed recreation.’

‘I see the young enjoying the adventure. I hope that this adventure aspect will not be lost in any plans.’

Current Status

Significant progress has been made to date in gaining local and national support for the proposals. This includes securing major funding for the capital works from Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Creative Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council and private donors in the region of £5m. Planning & Listed Building Consents for the outline designs have been approved and in a remarkable gesture of goodwill and support the current owners of the site Archdiocese of Glasgow have conditionally agreed to donate the entire site for the public good in 2016.

Over the next eighteen months NVA will undertake an extensive period of development which will include a range of survey works to assess the physical condition of the buildings and landscape, producing architectural design proposals and continued fundraising to reach the final target of £7m.

Public Campaign

If you would like to support our campaign and help us save this unique site for future generations please donate below:

Further Information

Kilmahew St Peter’s Design Charette Summary Report (pdf 2.48MB)

Masterplan (pdf 22.5MB)

More archive documents and early research are available in Downloads.


scottish government Creative Scotland Dunard Fund Caram Trust Heritage Lottery Fund Architectural Heritage Fund

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