THEY came from Hull and had ambitions to be lord and lady of the manor.

Robert Lucas-Gardiner, a former Royal Navy engineer, and his wife, Ewa, ex-wife of Marek Korab-Karpinski, a top orthopaedic surgeon, acquired the trappings of aristocracy by buying the title of Lord and Lady of the Manor of Marr from the Manorial Society of Great Britain, and then by spending #350,000 on Dunans Castle in Glendaruel, Argyll.

The house, with five reception rooms, nine bedrooms, a chapel, two dressing rooms, three bedrooms, attic rooms, and a wing with a further 11 rooms, was operating as a hotel by the time of the fire yesterday.

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Its website says: ''Originally the seat of the clan Fletcher, it now operates as an accommodation/conferences/sporting/telecommunications training/ weddings and film or photographic location shoot venue.''

The website also tells browsers that ''Dunans castle is also the only juice fasting centre in the UK''.

Guests pay #800 for a week, receiving bed and breakfast, four 12oz glasses of juice a day topped up with vitamin supplements, and as much water as they can drink.