Haddo House, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Last weekend we drove up to the north-east of Scotland, a couple of hours from where we are in Fife. The main reason for the trip was so that Jack could watch his beloved Dumbarton football team play Peterhead – and ‘collect’ one of the few football stadiums that he hadn’t visited in Scotland. As ever we tried to squeeze in visits to other places of interest locally which is why we ended up at Haddo House which is near Ellon. It was built in 1732 and was designed by William Adam in the grand Georgian/Palladian style. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of the front of the house as the heavens opened just as we walked to the house from the eatery for our scheduled guided tour, then we had to leave early as we were in danger of missing the football match!

Haddo House Garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The house is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and they don’t allow photography inside this property which is a real shame – even our guide agreed that it was a daft decision. The windows are shaded to prevent the textiles from being damaged by bright light and there was only one window not covered and I was allowed to take these photos of the garden from it.

There’s a very long winding road leading to this house and it isn’t the original access road. This property was handed down through generations of Earls of Aberdeen and one of them married a woman who didn’t like the house and would only marry him if she could change things. I think it’s obvious from the photos I took that the original driveway was through the middle of the avenue of trees, it would have been a much more elegant and scenic arrival for guests. Aparently her husband gave her the equivalent of £14 million to reconfigure the house to her liking. We all agreed that moving staircases and adding some bits on including a chapel couldn’t have cost that much, we suspect the rest of it went into her private coffers for dresses and jewels!
Haddo House garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

There are quite a lot of photos of the interior at the Undiscovered Scotland site.

There were only ten of us on the guided tour but this place is obviously very well used by locals as a great day out for families, the car park was very busy.

During World War 2 the house was used as a maternity hospital so the guide always asks if there are any Haddo babies among the visitors so he can show them where they were born, we were the most local people in the group though as the others were mainly from London, apparently visiting Scotland now as they feared they would need a passport in the future! The rooms used for the expectant mothers had been used by Queen Victori and and Prince Albert during their one night only stay.

Haddo House Garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

You can read more about the history of Haddo House here.

Thankfully Dumbarton beat Peterhead 3-2.

Hill of Tarvit House

Hill of Tarvit House is a mansion house about ten miles from where I live in Fife. It’s a Scottish National Trust property that we’ve visited several times before, but not since the SNT decided that interior photography would be allowed.

The photo below is of the main hall with its lovely wood panelling on the walls and ceiling. The chandelier looks dazzling in this photo but it’s actually quite a dark room, mainly to protect the very old tapestry that can be seen on the back wall.

Hill of Tarvit House Main Hall

The staircase comes off the hall.

Hill of Tarvit House  stairs

The sitting room in the photo below is also just off the main hall. This property ended up being handed over to the Scottish National Trust because the man who would have inherited it from his parents died in a very well known train crash, he was on the train going to meet his fiancee to take her to his family home. Sadly he was an only child.

Hill of Tarvit House sitting room  room 1

This is an Arts and Crafts house and I think it’s the most homely of any of their properties that I’ve explored. A lot of the small contents are the sorts of things that can be seen at antique fairs, so there’s not a lot that seems too precious. Below is a photo of the library, quite cosy really.

Hill of Tarvit House drawing room

The other end of the library.

Hill of Tarvit House  library

And a close up of some of the books in the house, I don’t know if you’ll be able to make out any of the titles though. Isn’t that lampshade ghastly!

Hill of Tarvit House  books

Below is the built in cupboard in the butler’s pantry. It has some local pottery (Wemyss ware) in it which in its day was not too expensive, but it is now, mainly because the Queen Mother was a keen collector I think.

Hill of Tarvit House butler's pantry

The owners were friends of Sir William Burrell of Burrell collection fame and some of the contents of the cabinet below were wedding gifts from him.

Hill of Tarvit House upper landing

It’s difficult to get a photo of the whole house, below is the best I could manage.

Hill of Tarvit House exterior 2

The garden isn’t huge although there is a croquet lawn which is often in use, it’s surrounded by some really scenic countryside/farmland though which you can see here and here in two previous posts.

Hill of Tarvit House Trees

Newhailes – National Trust for Scotland

A couple of weeks ago we decided to take ourselves off for a visit to Newhailes, a National Trust for Scotland property near Musselburgh and not far from Edinburgh. Have a look at the Undiscovered Scotland website here.

New Hailes

We were told not to take any photos of the interior, something that I know the National Trust high ‘heidyins’ are now allowing in all their properties, but this house only has small guided tours and the guide was having a nightmare with a couple of the other visitors so I decided not to argue the point. You can see some of the interiors when you click on the link above.

Newhailes 10

The house has been conserved and preserved rather than buffed up to look as it would have looked when newly built. It gives it a more lived in feeling rather than the sort of stage set look that you often get when viewing these old buildings.

The original owner of the house designed it himself, he was the architect James Smith and he bought the land in 1686, but over the years the house has been added on to. James Smith had originally intended to become a Roman Catholic priest and studied in Rome but he gave up to become an architect. He ended up marrying twice and fathering 32 children, so I think it’s fair to say that he must have realised just in time that he was not cut out to be a priest!

The house is copiously decorated with shells, particularly scallop shells which are of course the emblem of Saint James (no I’m not a Catholic, it’s just one of those things that I thought everyone knew) but I had to tell the guide about that and I’m not sure she believed me. Anyway, it made me laugh to think that James Smith had purloined the saint’s emblem for his own use.

If you’re in that area Newhailes is definitely worth a visit.

The word heidyins does of course mean – those in charge.

Nine Spectacular Scottish Walks – from the National Trust for Scotland

I’m already a member of the National Trust for Scotland so I have no idea why they are sending me emails asking me to join, anyway I thought I would pass on the nine walks also on the email as you can take a virtual walk, a very good idea if you are too far away to contemplate going up a Scottish hillside or your legs are no longer up to the job. I’m not sure mine ever were – apart from Ben Lomond as I know that’s an easy one, and the Grey Mare’s Tail near Moffat of course.

I quite fancy trying Goatfell on the Isle of Arran sometime in the future though, if I can manage it. It looks gorgeous there, doesn’t it.


Greenbank Gardens near East Kilbride, Scotland

We found ourselves in East Kilbride recently so decided to visit nearby Greenbank Gardens, we had never been in that part of the west of Scotland before.

Greenbank Gardens 1

There had obviously been a lot of rain there recently (where hasn’t there been?!) and it was pretty muddy underfoot in places so we decided that we would take a quick squint at the place and go back another day later in the season when there is more of interest actually flowering. It’s a National Trust for Scotland garden.

Greenbank Gardens 2

Sadly the house that the garden is actually attached to isn’t open to the public, but as you can see from the photo below it looks quite grand. It’s a Grade A listed Georgian building.

Greenbank Gardens 4

The gates in the photo below lead from the lawn to the more informal garden. It’s well worth a look if you find yourself in that area of the west of Scotland.

Greenbank Gardens 5

You can see more images of the gardens here.