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Friday, 30 August 2013

Hopeton House again

I left you standing on the landing looking at the cupola and the wood carvings, so now we can have a look at some of the rooms on view upstairs. red bedroom This is the Red Room -  for obvious reasons – taken from the maids’ doorway and looking across to the doorway used by the occupant.  The four poster beds are amazing.upstairs landing



There are several rooms off this corridor behind the stairs but we didn’t get to see those.  However we did get to see some of the other bedrooms, each with their own fourposter

green tapestry roomThere was the Green tapestry bedroom,

bedroom ornament





with some pretty nicknacks on view – such as  this pretty china ornament, the characters unfortunately facing the wrong way for us,candle holder and this lovely candlestick incorporated into a tray of little pots.  Can you spot them in the photo of the room.

Opposite was a little washroom, more likely where the maids got the washing bowls and jugs of hot water ready for the occupants of the tapestry room and the Cherry bedroom off to the left, though maybe not.  The room contains various wash bowls and a wash stand and towel rail, and with a fireplacea wash room to the left with a rug in front it would probably be a cosy little room for the morning ablutions, for each room in turn, maybe.4 poster cherry room  I actually rather think it would only be for the use of the Cherry room – an 18th century en-suite!

This is the Cherry bedroom, so named for the cherry seller in the tapestry.  The hangings around the bed have been renovated recently and all incorporate cherry designs.the cherry seller tapestry

cherry pattern


This beautiful wooden cradle is displayed in the Cherry room.   I wonder how many of the Hope family have slept in it over the few hundred years since it was made.

Then our tour took us down the “backstairs” to the entrance hall once more and from there to the butler’s pantry, sort of mixed with other kitcheny stuff.    It was really the only servants room we saw so probably incorporated a bit of all the servants downstairs rooms.  I’d love to see the kitchen and the other servants rooms, and also the rooms most likely in the attics where the maids and menservants had their quarters – most probably the men well separated from the girls – shades of Downton Abbey if you’ve had the chance to follow it on television. butler's pantry You never get to see the attics in stately homes!P1050281

I  loved this little display on the table below the other half of the arched window.  I wonder what the chicken carcass on the plate was made of!

We had lunch in the Stables tearoom  and then were free to wander for a while.  Many of us would have enjoyed looking at the gardens but unfortunately the heavens opened and the rain poured down!  P1050263It was decided to cut the visit short but not before we had leaped over puddles in the front of the house, to get to the ballroom in the opposite wing from the Stables. the ballroom

ballroom chandelier

ballroom cadelabrum

It was rather stunning with wonderful candelabra that no doubt would reflect on the beautiful wood floor.


Can you imagine the ballroom filled with dancers twirling round in a waltz, perhaps; the orchestra maybe at the far end of the room under that beautiful trio of windows?

Soon it was time to climb on board our coach – no horses involved – and head back down the drive and on to the road for Peebles. It had been a pleasant outing.

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A visit to Hopetoun House.

Hopeton House

The U3A and the Tweeddale Society joined forces for their annual summer outing this year.  A coach was hired and members of the two groups set off on a not very bright morning for Hopetoun House, near Queensferry on the south side of the Firth of Forth.  The long drive in gave us a chance to admire from a distance this beautiful house with its colonades to each side and a wing facing one the same on the other side.

The coach dropped us at the front of the house, at the bottom of the steps to the front door, where we were greeted by one of our guides for the tour of the house.  The house belongs to the Hope family, the Duke and Duchess, and their children, who live in one half of the building, while the other half is open to the public.

The front of the house is quite impressive, but the original facade was even more so, I thought, when I saw a drawing.  Apparently after the original house was completed, it was decided the front should be changed to the style we see today.  the stables tearoomMost of us headed first to the tearoom before we started our guided tour.  This is situated in the right hand wing which were once the stables.  Beautiful stables, eh?  Behind these stables were other buildings where  there would be tack rooms and coach house etc.  I’m not sure if we were allowed through to see those, through the large fancy doorway in the middle of the yellow wall!

The tour of the house started in the front hall, and took us to the right of the building, across the front of the housea drawing room

This was the first room, with its ornate painted plasterwork ceiling, and dark paintings on the walls; the ornate mantelpiece, and tables and chairs with delicate legs and claw feet.  rembrandt old womanWe entered through the door just off the left of the photo, and walked straight through the room in front of the high windows, but it occurred to me later that there was another door in each of the rooms, which I suppose was only used by the servants as they went round the house doing their respective chores.  There is probably a warren of passages connecting these doors on the other side of the walls.  I loved the painting of the old woman by Rembrandt.  She reminded me of Claire Rainer, agony aunt and author.

Coming back to the entrance hall we could see the beautiful wooden spiral staircase and beyond, the garden room., which was too dark to photograph, but that led us to the Red Drawing Room with its large bench-like sofas along the walls; even more ornate the red roomfireplace and mantelshelf; even more dark paintings and portraits.  Again, another door in the corner. 

the red room sofas

The sofas, very well worn, made me think about the number of bums (bottoms) that  have sat on them to reduce them to this state.   This was the “withdrawing” room next to the dining room.  I could imagine the ladies in their long wide dresses, withdrawing from the dining room between courses, to rest their backsides on these sofas, while the men meandered around the room chatting or doing business.  However I feel sure that the seats wouldn’t  have been seen in this state!  All the furniture in the house is original.  Nothing has been bought in, so maybe these seats were removed to another room, when they started to appear worn, and used by the family till they just had to be recovered.  Speculation!dining room

 This is the dining room – not too large a room so I suspect there must have been a larger dining room in the other half of the house that we couldn’t see.  Dukes would surely entertain on a larger scale.  Maybe this was the family dining room, or was used for more intimate dining.  There’s a portrait on the far away wall of Jane, a former countess of Hopetoun. lacy countess jane  I took a closer look at her and was fascinated by the amount of lace she was wearing.  In her day lace would be very expensive, and was entirely handmade. I think it is amazing to see how artists painted lace!

More doors!  We had just come in the one that guests and family would have used.  The open door at the far end of the room led through to a small servants’ ante room – a servery -  where dishes would be stored and meals served from the kitchen downstairs.  The two doors on the far wall were probably on to the servants’ passageway.  I’d love to see that, if my suppositions are correct.oyster dish  

This object was on a small sidetable in the dining room.  Any guesses?  It’s an oyster dish!  To be honest I don’t know how the oysters were served from it!  How many oysters would one person eat?servants' bells

The servery had bells on the high wall.  I wouldn’t have expected to find them here, but in the kitchen areas.  I mean, who would ring from The Clock Room, or the Young Ladies Maids Room while the dining room was in use?  Very odd!

staircaseA doorway from the servery took us back to the  stair case, and the so beautifully painted panels separated from each other by exquisite carvings.  Halfway up the stairs is a painted panel below a gallery. trompe L'oeuil2 It’s a trompe l’oeuil! When you get closer it looks like it is a beautifully carved cupboard, the doors slightly open and some of the contents on view, but in reality it is all painted! There’s also something in the cupboard that ought not to be! mouse in trompe l'oeuil

It’s a mouse!


The carved flowers, fruit and grain are wonderful.  See the peapod?  That was apparently a sign that the wood carver was satisfied that his employer would think he had done a good job and would pay him well.

the painted cupola2

At the top of the stair is a small landing, leading to the bedroom corridors, and above the stair is a painted cupola.  Apparently at some time the painting had been painted over and was all white, and it was only when a leak in the skylight had to be repaired  fairly recently that it was found.  Work began to take off the white paint and restore the cupola to its former glory!  It’s pretty stunning!

I think I’ve written enough about Hopeton for now.  I’ll show and tell some more next time.  How about that?   Talk again soon.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Hurray! Historic Dwellings

Hey!  Got my landline and internet back today!  That’s been 3 full weeks without it, and I’ve been lost!   I had to go along the road to a local hotel to make use of their wifi, which meant having morning or afternoon  tea , sometimes lunch or even dinner!  All very nice but a bit hard on the bank balance!

So, now I can get back to the blog!  I was in Aberfeldy in Perthshire when I last wrote a post so here’s the follow up…..

Next morning I checked out of the cottage and headed west to Loch Tay at Kenmore.  crannog bestMy plan was to visit the Crannog, or prehistoric lake dwelling, that has been constructed in the water on the south side of Loch Tay.   Crannogs were built offshore  for safety’s sake in turbulent times.  They might have been built on small islands in the middle of a loch or constructed, as this Loch Tay Crannog is, on log stilts above the water.  Some had submerged causeways by which they could be reached on foot; some were only accessible by boat, and yet others had a bridge to connect them to land.  Perhaps it could be raised in case of danger.

crannogWe were taken as a group across the wooden bridge, into the dwelling house, where we learned about its construction and about the lives of the prehistoric families who would live in such a construction.  Daily life went on inside, though in peaceful times there would be fields on the shore land for growing grass and crops to keep family and animals.  crannog galleryIf the need arose the family would herd their beasts across the bridge or causeway to pens within the crannog.  Chances are that the family slept in galleries under the roof  where the heat rose from the animals below.  Skins and woven woollen blankets would form their beds, and also keep them warm wrapped around themselves in the cold season of the year.  crannog fire stoneA fire in the centre of the floor would serve for both heating and cooking.  crannog grinding corn

Grain was ground using special stones to make a rough flour for a kind of bread,  that was no doubt cooked on the fire.  Wool would be spun and woven for blankets and clothes; crannog woodturning tools and dishes turned on a very basic and ingenious lathe.   crannog on stilts    

A walkway has been built round the outside of the Loch Tay house, and beneath, large stones would be added to the foundations to keep the building stable.  It was very interesting to hear and see what research has led to, and how this crannog has been constructed from the knowledge gained.

I  finally turned in the direction of home. but detoured into a  little part of the Perthshire countryside north of the Tay estuary (the Firth of Tay) to look at places where my Kinmont ancestors had lived and worked in the 18th and 19th centuries.kinrossie cottage and mercat cross

I expect this village would still be quite recognisable if the ancestors were to come back today.  In fact I suppose that all the houses would once have been thatched as this one is.  The location of the mercat (market) cross would throw them somewhat, as it was moved, though not far, in the 20th century.collace church

I hoped to find – but didn’t – some family gravestones in this churchyard, but  it wasn’t until I reached the small town of Errol that I was to have some luck in that direction.errol mercat cross top of Errol


At the top of the town I found the old mercat cross on the High Street, and not too far away was the churchyard.  kinmont grave, errolAfter a fair bit of looking I finally found the grave of my great great grandparents and some of their children, mostly the ones who died young, but great grandfather Kinmont and his wife were there too.

 janet yeaman kinmont grave, errolThere was also a gravestone for another of the family, Janet and her husband – not so easy to read – so those were exciting discoveries.  Great  grandfather had been the local banker and I knew he had worked at the Union Bank, and that the family had lived in the house, Bank House.  I assumed it must be in the High Street so set off along the street in search of  a house that looked as if it was once a Bank.  It was only with the fantastic help of a local man that I found it – right down at the other end of the street.  He knew the house had once been a bank though its name has since been changed.union bank, errol  I was really thrilled to see where granny Inglis was brought up - and her sister Anne who I am named for.

While I was doing some research on the family I found some newspaper articles concerning the death of Great  grandfather.  Apparently he was attending a meeting of the board of a nearby school when he started to feel ill.  He asked to excuse himself, and was taken to the schoolhouse.  The doctor was called for but it was deemed unwise to move him  back to Bank House.  He stayed overnight in the schoolhouse  but sadly died the next morning.  I hope his wife Annie was brought to the schoolhouse and was with him when he died.   It was thought that heart disease was the cause of his death.   The article continued that the clerk of the school board considered Mr Kinmont well respected and genial, with a happy countenance.  I think he looks genial in the photograph I have of him and the family.  Eight children he and Annie had!   Kinmont_family_479x479I made a scrapbook page for that photo.  It’s one of my favourites. My grandmother is the girl in the middle of the photo with great aunt Anne leaning towards her.  Agnes Emily  is the one next to granny, and David, her twin, is next to their mother. Little Meg in the front beside her father, seems to have very short hair.  I wonder if she caught ringworm and had to have her hair shaved off and this is it just growing.

I must go back to Errol one of these days and spend more time looking around, but for that day I didn’t have enough time, and had to get home.

While I’m at it, this is the page I made with the photo of the Inglis family at Lands End, Cornwall, in 1967  I said I should include it, so here it is: Inglis_1967

This is Jean, myself, Mum and Dad, by the signpost at Lands End.  It was the year the first of the big oil tankers – the Torrey Canyon - was wrecked, spilling a vast amount of  oil into the sea somewhere to the west of Lands End itself.  It was quite a disaster.

Talking of disasters, I still haven’t got my phone line and internet restored.  Apparently there was a “major incident” at the exchange and repairs are now in phase two. Sounds like the exchange has been frazzled!  Should be fixed by Monday 19th!  I do hope so. 

Well, as you now know it took till today, Monday 26th!  Apparently a cable had to be replaced and because the pipe the cable went through had silted up they had to get specialised “silt busters” to clear the blockage.  All a bit much I think to myself!  Three weeks?  Anyway it’s fixed now.

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Just a few lines today to say that my internet is down at the moment so I am in the library catching up with emails etc.  I have my next post ready to publish but it may take a while to get here!  I'll see what I can do tomorrow.

Meanwhile, have a good day!
Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Birks of Aberfeldie

I decided to take up an offer on one of these internet voucher schemes that landed in my Inbox a couple of months ago, and booked a couple of nights in a holiday cottage on the outskirts of the pretty Perthshire village of Aberfeldy.   Things had been weighing heavily on my brain for a bit so I saw this as a chance to get away just for a short time and relax.

birks pathThe weather was continuing hot and sunny so it was lovely on the first morning to feel a cooler air, just right for walking round the woodland path up one side of the  gorge and down the other, a trail called The Birks of Aberfeldy.  birks gorgeBirks are Scottish birch trees, and it was Robert Burns’ poem The Birks of Aberfeldy that gave the former Den of Moness its new name, and its fame!  He had enjoyed the walk himself in the 18th century and was moved to write about it.  However it isn’t just birch trees you find as you cross the wee bridges over river and burn (stream), and follow the river upstream, but other varieties of native trees, beech, oak, elder, rowan, alder, etc., and wildflowers too. birks foxglove birks pathVarious birds flitted and called  to accompany the sounds of the water down in the gorge, rippling and tumbling over rocks.  Because of the hot dry weather we had been having there wasn’t a lot of water in the  falls.  I’d love to see them when there was plenty of water in them!  The path was well worn, but in parts had to revert to stone steps or decking, because of erosion along the banks. daylight hedgehog Well,  there have been plenty of feet treading the path over the last few hundred years, including those of this wee guy who was running in front of me for a while, before deciding to change tack and head back towards me again.hedgehog2

He ambled along towards me, passed me, and then disappeared into the grass and bracken.  So cute!   I didn’t think of seeing a hedgehog in broad daylight.  Normally I think they only come out at dusk.  I remember years ago one came to my kitchen door  each evening in the hopes of having a feast from the cat’s bowl.

birks bridge

From this little wooden bridge you could see one of the cascades of water flowing and falling down into the gorge to meet the Moness.birks waterfall 2  Not a lot of water in it but rather pretty all the same.

birks waterfallFurther up there were more waterfalls to be crossed, before reaching the top of the path, crossing the wooden bridge over the upper falls (below}, and beginning to descend the reasonably gentle slope down on the other side.  birks top falls2.

This is the bridge over the highest fall where you can look down at the head of the fall and watch the water flowing away from you and begin to tumble downwards birks upper bridgeThere weren’t so many views of the river or falls on this side, unfortunately




birks view

birks path2

but all of a sudden you get to a point where the trees don’t crowd together and  there in front of you is the hill called Ben Vrackie and you know that Aberfeldy is in the dip behind the green hill in the foreground.  As you can see the sun came out and it was getting hotter.  I would be glad to get back to the cottage, and the swimming pool in the hotel complex, where I planned to stay for most of the afternoon!  Soon the car park was just ahead and my car sitting in the shade under the trees.  I read on a sign somewhere that the walk was about 3 miles.  If it was then I feel quite proud of myself!  Hips and knees coped with the uphills and downhills, and the swim, well, the laze around ) afterwards helped to relax tired muscles.  Just a couple more photos today before I go – some of the wild flowers I encountered on route.birks wild flowers 3birks wild flowers




birks wild geranium


Yes, I know that was three, rather than a couple, but I did want to get these in somewhere!

Talk again soon.