A Castle for The Community

February 26, 2022
A Castle for The Community

The Circle has been awarded the lease of the city’s historic Dudhope Castle, Dundee City Council announced today. The building will be used to provide affordable, flexible workspaces and event facilities for charities, social enterprises and community groups.


Sometimes known as ‘The People’s Castle’ or ‘Dundee’s Castle’, Dudhope Castle was built in the late 13th century by the Scrimgeour family. Since then, the building has had many uses. In 1792 the castle was rented in a failed attempt to turn it into a woollen factory. For nearly 100 years, from 1795, it was used as an army barracks. The building also previously housed the University of Abertay’s Business School. Most recently the castle was converted into office space for the use of Dundee City Council, who vacated the building in 2020.

Now the castle will be used for the community as The Circle make it their headquarters.

The Circle and Dundee City Council will work with local architectural, heritage and community groups to ensure the A-listed building, becomes a valuable and accessible community resource, as well as a visitor and tourist attraction.

Up until recently, the building was used by the Council as offices until they vacated in March 2020. Working closely with Dundee City Council, The Circle will offer affordable workspaces, co-working spaces and event facilities at Dudhope Castle. A number of workspaces and co-working desks will be available to be booked by the day or half-day. 

The Circle plans to use the castle’s historic Scrimgeour Room for public consultations and to display an exhibition of the history of the building and aims to work with the community to tell the story of the castle, and its important role in the city’s heritage.

The Circle’s move to Dudhope Castle will be a significant step in the growth of the Dundee-based social enterprise, and towards its goal to provide accessible and inclusive accommodation across the city.

Dudhope Castle was built in the late 13th century by the Scrimgeour family. It stands tall and is basking in the winter morning sun.
Dudhope Castle – Ian Martin Photography

Kirsty Thomson, The Circle’s Founder and CEO, said she hopes Dudhope Castle will become a valuable community resource that will help attract investment into the city, while at the same time preserving and respecting its role in the history of Dundee. 

“We are delighted to be in a building with such historic and cultural significance and heritage.”

“This important, historic building, which many consider to be “Dundee’s Castle”, will be used to benefit the people of Dundee. It will be filled with organisations and individuals offering support to people across the city, including those with additional needs and learning disabilities, experiencing mental health challenges and funeral poverty. We also aim to build on our current work, creating employment and volunteering experiences.

“Dudhope Castle will become the headquarters for The Circle in the long term, as we expand our operations across the city. The move represents the next stage of the journey for our organisation.”

Mark Flynn, the convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “This is excellent news all round and I am delighted that the city council has been able to work with The Circle to help them with their expansion plans, while at the same time breathing new life into one of the city’s most historic buildings. 

“Leasing Dudhope Castle to The Circle is a win-win situation all round, not least because of the exciting plans they have for it which will mean that the Dundee public can still feel a sense of pride and engagement with the building.” 

Older images showing how Dudhope Castle looked in the past as army barracks and a woolen mill.
Photo taken from Scottish Castle’s Association

A number of The Circle’s current tenants are planning to move into Dudhope Castle with the team. These organisations include: Cornerstone, Barnardo’s Works, Uppertunity, and local filmmaker Ian Bustard. 

Daniëlle Gaffney du Plooy, of Uppertunity, who has rented workspace from The Circle Dundee for the past five years, said: 

“Here at Uppertunity, we’re all very excited for our new home. It’s a castle! Us making magic (something we say often) has even more meaning now.”

“We’re beyond happy and grateful to be part of such an amazing community. We couldn’t imagine ever being in a space on our own, without like-minded organisations such as we have at The Circle. At Uppertunity, we’re about creating and inspiring positive social change, and this can only be done by the community and its members working together.”

Sheelagh Scott, of Barnardo’s Works, a tenant of The Circle Dundee for five years, said: “Both myself, and the team at Barnardo’s Works, value being part of The Circle Community as all partners share our basis and values and are committed to improving the lives of people in the local community. We are looking forward to an exciting future as tenants in The Circle as we move to the new premises.”

Uppertunity's Danielle on the left working with a colleague to remodel and upcycle the dress that is on the mannequin.
Long-standing tenant, Uppertunity – photo Yulia Skulskikh

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