Egerton Castle Njoro: A Kenyan Taj Mahal Love Story
The well manicured castle lawns and beautiful gardens offer great picnicking and photography opportunities.
Can serve as a perfect scene and backdrop for a pre-colonial romance movie.
The guided castle tours are handled by very knowledgeable and competent guides.
Vandalism and a long period of neglect has robbed the castle of its former glory.
The signage from the main road is not very visible and one can easily miss the location.
Egerton Castle is a splendid architectural masterpiece built by British nobleman Lord Maurice Egerton of Tatton between 1930 and 1940 in the name of love. The beautiful castle still gives the equally beautiful countryside of Njoro, medieval and romantic look, especially its lush lawns and gardens which are well-kept. The stately Egerton Castle was where Lord Egerton retreated in the final days of his life . The castle has 52 rooms, unfortified by moat or garrison. Back in the days, each of those 52 rooms was furnished to befit a king.
Grandeur was intended in practically every structure right from the dressed stone that was cut in the right template to the flag-staff that flew the Union Jack on top of the magnificent castle every day. One of Lord Egerton’s most trusted servants, Ndolo, used to hoist the flag every morning after blowing the bugle 3 times.
Everyone, including Lord Egerton, would stand to attention whenever they were within the precincts of the castle. A Vono bed and mattress the noblemen is believed to have used were recently bought back by Egerton University from a Kenyan who had acquired them at an auction.
In the expansive main hall stands the old piano (in a state of disrepair). Some of piano’s organ pipes can be seen through the wooden wall panels, a few metres away. Egerton University is planning a major restoration of the Castle and ultimately convert it to a museum. Once the restoration is complete, there is no doubt that Egerton Castle will become a popular stopover for tourists visiting the Lake Nakuru National Park, Lake Bogoria and the Maasai Mara. The castle grounds could also be converted into a recreation centre owing their proximity to Nakuru town and the Trans-Africa highway.
Lord Egerton shunned and hated women for a greater part of his life after a woman, for whom he built the monumental Egerton Castle at Njoro. It is said the lady turned down his proposal for marriage and rejected the castle describing it as a ‘museum’. Several decades later, it would seem as if her curse held for indeed the Lord Egerton Castle is today just that – a museum and it is probably as a museum that the castle is likely to draw large numbers of visitors than as a castle back then.
Before this, Lord Egerton was living in a cottage built for him by his farm manager, Hugh Coltart. When his fiancee visited him from England and immediately expressed her dislike for the small humble cottage – a small rondavel, Lord Egerton, in a show of love and devotion, started work on the magnificent castle, hoping to please his fiancee. But he was devastated when she again rejected the magnificent castle – and its builder – and married another man in the UK.
After this incidence Lord Egerton lived an isolated life dedicating his life to hunting and photography. He avoided three living things in life – women, dogs and chickens. It is said that no woman, dog or chicken ever stepped in the castle grounds when Lord Egerton was alive! He however reared a few gazelles, snakes and a giant tortoise. He liked to have silence around him all the time which probably explains why he detested noisy creatures like cockerels and dogs. Lord Egerton would on some occasions wake up at 5.30 am, take his guns and run to a shooting range 4 km away.
He would return to the castle again at a run and take a bath before breakfast. The nobleman was a stickler for rules – such as cooks wearing the right uniforms during tea time, lunch, the 4 o’clock tea or dinner. Only 10 servants were allowed in the castle while the others – about 40 gardeners – were required to stick to their work places and the servants’ quarters.
Whenever Lord Egerton visited any of the farm workers’ villages, far from the castle, he would give 2 weeks’ notice for all women to either remain indoors or just leave the village until he had completed his tour. Chris Wanjala, a literature professor who has written extensively about the castle, says Lord Egerton, a short man who liked to wear a pilot’s cap, had a passion for hunting and photography and that he made hunting expeditions in India, Africa and Canada.
Lord Egerton will be remembered by Kenyans for his generosity, donating the land on which Egerton University’s Njoro campus stands. He completely insulated his African servants from the harassment that was meted on others by the colonial government during the Mau Mau war of independence.
Located at Tatton farm in Njoro, Nakuru.