The Tax Collector and the Tower House
"Freswick House" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm
Freswick House is one of the notable old buildings of Caithness. It was built on the site of a Viking stronghold. Originally called Freswick Castle, it was added to and improved over the years and later became Freswick Tower or Freswick House.
There is an amusing story about a dispute over Window Tax. This tax was introduced in the Eighteenth Century, and was based on the number of windows in a property. Owners often got around it by blocking up some of the windows, and these can still be seen in old houses today. William Sinclair was the owner of Freswick House at the time, and apparently he was in constant dispute with the Window Tax collector. He may have had some justification, because on different occasions the official count of the number of windows seems to have varied between 28; 31; 47 and 34! Maybe he kept blocking up and unblocking windows, but whatever the reason, he seems to have avoided paying the tax in his lifetime.