House of Dun near Montrose – interior

It’s a few weeks now since we visited the House of Dun near Montrose, you can see the post that I did about the exterior of the building here. It was built in 1730 for the laird David Erskine.

This is a house that you can only go around as part of a guided tour, but they seem to be fairly frequent so we didn’t have to wait all that long to be shown around. It’s a shame that one of the owners married a woman who liked to tinker with the internal plan of the house. It was of course designed by William Adam who was a fanatic about having everything symmetrical, even creating dummy doors to match actual doors at opposite ends of walls. A previous occupant has ruined a lot of the proportions by having walls removed and such, especially in the hall.

Room in House of Dun

Room in House of Dun

I keep saying this but it’s true – although it’s a very grand house, it still has the feeling of a family home. It must be all the personal nick-nacks that decorate the place that help.

It was impossible to get a photo of the huge looking glass without getting people in it!

Room windows in House of Dun

The cornicings/plaster wall and ceiling decorations are incredibly ornate as you can see.
Room in house of Dun

Apparently the overmantel decoration is of a soldier standing with one foot crushing the crown of England. Not terribly subtle, apparently the house was owned by Jacobites who enjoyed this sort of visual support for the Jacobite cause and they got away with it, at a time when they could easily have been executed for such sympathies!
Room  Overmantel + fireplace

The embroidered quilt on this four-poster bed is fantastic. It was apparently found in a tin trunk in the attics fairly recently. It was a wedding gift embroidered by the mother of the then laird and it has his and his mother’s name sewn all over it, and the fact that it was a gift from her for his wedding. It’s suspected that his bride didn’t want to have her mother-in-law at such close quarters, even if only in the shape of embroidery and I have to say I don’t really blame her.
Quilted bed

Lastly, just about the most bizarre object at the House of Dun is the ‘boot’ bath below, so named because it resembles the shape of a boot. I can’t make up my mind whether it was enclosed like that to keep out draughts or just to make it a more private experience for the bather. I don’t think it would have made washing your legs and feet very easy though!

boot bath

House of Dun, near Montrose

One beautiful day a couple of weeks ago we decided to grab the good weather and drive up to the House of Dun close to Montrose. It’s a Scottish National Trust property that we had never visited before. It’s just over 50 miles away from us. Below are some photographs of the outside from various angles.

House of Dun

The house was originally owned by the Erskine family.

House of Dun, Montrose

House of Dun, Montrose

House of Dun, Montrose

The gardens are meticullously maintained, I hate to think how many hours it all must take.
Garden

Garden , House of Dun, Montrose

As you can see from the plaque below, it was laid by the Queen Mother to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the house’s architect William Adam. He was the father of three famous architects, the most famous being Robert Adam.

Box hedging dedication

The pergola below looks lovely now but it will look even better when the plants have covered all of the metal support. It is of course in the shape of a crown. The owners of the House of Dun were closet Jacobites and there are various not very well hidden decorations in the house featuring the Scottish crown.
Garden pergola

The photo below of the box hedging was taken from the top of the house steps, the back door really. The setting is fantastic with beautiful views from the house.
box hedging pano

You can actually rent holiday cottages and I think apartments in the actual house. It would be great – if the weather behaved itself. Crucially there is a good tea room!

Hurrah! the National Trust now allow people to take photographs of the inside of their properties, but I’ll keep those ones for the next blogpost.

Scottish non fiction books

books

This post is so long overdue, I had meant to get around to writing about some of my Scottish non-fiction books at the beginning of the year, but life and moving house somehow got in the way.

Anyway, better late than never, and of course as the Read Scotland 2014 challenge is continuing in 2015 and probably forever and a day, I should manage to get these ones read eventually.

There’s a biography of John Buchan – by his wife and friends. This one was published in 1947. I really like John Buchan’s adventure/spy/mystery books but the man himself was just amazing – what a career he had! I hope to learn more about him through this book.

Montrose by John Buchan. Buchan won the James Tait Black memorial prize for this biography of the Marquess of Montrose.

Maritime Scotland by Brian Lavery is a Historic Scotland publication. As you would imagine, the sea in Scotland is important. It’s impossible to live more than 40 miles from salt water according to this book. It should be interesting.

Mary Queen of Scots by Jean Plaidy
. Until I saw this book I had no idea that Jean Plaidy had written anything other than her historical novels which I enjoyed as a youngster. I wonder what she thinks of Mary Stuart?

Hand, Heart and Soul by Elizabeth Cumming is about the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland. This book has some nice photographs in it but also an awful lot of text. It’ll be one for dipping in and out of I think.

Scottish Gardens by Sir Herbert Maxwell was published in 1908 and it’s a gorgeous book with lovely illustrations by Mary G. W. Wilson. This was one which I said to Jack – buy that for my birthday! I don’t go in for surprise presents, after all these years it’s sensible to make sure that you get what you want and Jack is happy to oblige as it means he doesn’t have to rack his brains for gift ideas. Anyway, I think the book is quite a rare one and I intend to carry out some research to see what has happened to all the gardens which are mentioned and illustrated in the text.

Then there’s The Scottish Gardener by Suzi Urquhart, another birthday present.

So that’s my first batch of Scottish non-fiction books. I have a lot of Scottish travel books but I’ll keep them for another time. Those are the sort of books which are good for dipping into when you want to know more about the area which you are going to visit.

I think you’ll agree that this lot should keep me busy for a while anyway.