British nobleman Lord Maurice Egerton built Egerton Castle in Njoro as a splendid architectural masterpiece to impress his Austrian fiancée, Lady Victoria. Lady Victoria had previously rejected a 6-bedroomed cottage built for him by his farm manager, Hugh Coltar, calling it a chicken coop and a dog’s kennel.
In 1954, Lord Egerton constructed a magnificent 4-storey 53-roomed castle that had no comparison in England or any other country for that matter. He was deeply in love and determined not to give up too quickly. He commissioned the castle with the latest mechanical and electrical gadgets, including an escalator!
Right from the dressed stone cut in the right template to the flagstaff at the top that flew the Union Jack, Egerton Castle intended to impress. They used oak imported from England for the panelling.
Most of the stone was brought in from Italy, and some fetched from Kedowa and Njiru. The marble and tiles used to decorate the interior were shipped from Italy and England.
An engineer, Albert Baron, came all the way from Rome to oversee the castle’s construction. About 100 Indian workers formed part of the technical labour team. Locals also provided manual labour.
During its heyday, Lord Egerton would sit under a golden curtain in the castle’s ballroom, listening to symphonies performed by orchestras and seasoned musicians from all over the world on the gold-plaited carpets. Now in a bad state, a grand piano was its most prominent fixture.
The bathrooms at Egerton Castle were numerous, each fitted with electrical machines for warming the towels and drying hair. The kitchen, complete with a mini slaughterhouse, was the centre of perfection.
The chef would shower and perfume himself before cooking Lord Egerton a meal. The nobleman nevertheless still hired a doctor from Nakuru to inspect his food twice a day.
Unlike traditional castles, Egerton Castle is unfortified by a moat or garrison. Ndolo, Lord Egerton’s trusted servant, raised the Union Jack daily after sounding the bugle thrice.
Everyone, including Lord Egerton, would stand to attention whenever they were within the castle’s precincts. Today, the Kenyan flag oddly flies there.
Lord Egerton was 80 years old when he completed the fairytale monument of love 16 years later. Sadly, Victoria did not like the castle, this time calling it a museum – a museum it indeed ended up becoming.
Some say Lord Egerton did not build the castle for the love of his life but as a monument to his solitude. Whatever the reason, his disdain for women, chickens and dogs was quite evident in his later days. He banned them and put up shoot-on-sight notices for any female trespassers on the farm.
Lord Egerton passed away in 1958 without leaving any heirs to his name. His family lineage came to an end four years after the completion of the castle.
The castle in Njoro still stands after 64 years, adding a medieval and romantic touch to the beautiful countryside with its lush gardens and well-kept lawns.
Ironically, the space once forbidden for women is now a popular venue for romantic weddings. Perhaps it is safe to say the castle of love lives on in others. Make a point of visiting this place whenever you are in Njoro. The Egerton University website has an interesting history of Lord Maurice Egerton, in case you want to read more about him. To plan a visit, check the guide below for applicable entrance fees.
Category Entrance Fee Kenyan Adult Citizens KES 150 Kenyan Students in Tertiary Institutions KES 120 Kenyan Students in Secondary Schools KES 100 Kenyan Students in Primary Schools KES 75 Kenyan Students in Nursery Schools KES 50 Resident Adults KES 450 Residents Students in Tertiary Institutions KES 240 Residents Students in Secondary Schools KES 200 Residents Students in Primary Schools KES 150 Residents Students in Nursery Schools KES 100 Non-Resident Adults USD 12 Non-Resident Students in Tertiary Institutions USD 10 Non-Resident in Secondary Schools USD 8 Non-Resident in Primary Schools USD 6 Non-Resident in Nursery Schools USD 4