Category Archives: History

Jousting at Castle Fraser

The jousting event for 2012 is nearly here!  Click on the thumbnails for full details folks…

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Blood and Granite Tour

The sister in law booked us on the Blood and Granite tour of Aberdeen.  Fortunately, it was actually quite a nice sunny evening – but it was a long 2 hour walk!

We enjoyed some bits of it particularly though, like the bombing of the cemetery at the beginning.  Here is the Victorian house that was actually built within Trinity Cemetery:

Victorian House

You can see how nice the weather was for once!  It made a nice change for something to do in the evening and was our first organised tour within the city.  As you will also be able to tell from the title, it was about the bloody, gory history of the city and contained information about murders galore…(amongst other things).

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Cawdor Castle and the Antiques Roadshow

I had been wanting to go and see Cawdor Castle for a few years, but not had the excuse to just get on with it and go until I heard that The Antiques Roadshow were going to be there!  To my knowledge, they don’t visit that many locations in Scotland, at least during each year’s filming.  I do love watching other people’s treasures – especially family stories.

We decided we didn’t really have anything we wanted valued, so packed ourselves off to the station to get the train to Nairn, outside of Inverness – which is the closest to Cawdor and the castle.  For June it wasn’t really warm and the weather was pretty atrocious, as was the non-existent bus service available to Cawdor, but hey-ho we got there and immediately loved the castle and gardens.

The castle is beautiful, and reminded me a little of Fraser, the rooms are also really comfortable looking – which is much in keeping with the fact that it is still a family home.  Enjoyed some of the paintings too – especially the portraits which were over the front desk where you show your tickets.  Had a nice wander around the shop to get my obligatory guide book, and to read more about the tree preserved within the castle itself…

Time for a final wander around the gardens (loved the roses) and to take some pictures and generally people watch the visitors and spot AR experts!  This is when I spotted this before we left:


Right in the centre you’ll spot the presenter Fiona Bruce!  It was nice to see her, if only at a distance.  The programme I believe is scheduled for the end of 2012, early 2013.

And I didn’t even manage to mention THAT Scottish play in this post!

*UPDATE The programme has now been shown.  You can see a clip here.

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Filed under Antique, Architecture, Art, History, Places to go, TV

Afternoon Tea at Lickleyhead Castle

On a rare open day, the Mum and I went to visit the privately owned Lickleyhead Castle.

Included was afternoon tea too!  We really enjoyed ourselves on the quick castle tour (mostly modern decoration) and our lovely sit down tea.  Good chance to chat to other interested folks too.

Hope they do it again next year!


Lickleyhead Castle

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Eleanor in St. Albans

I must thank Adrian for a) showing me the following photo and b) allowing me to post it here for your delectation.

Eleanor is feeling a bit neglected you know, and demanded something of a short update.

The following is an image of the plaque placed on the clock tower in St. Albans near where Eleanor’s cross used to stand.  I’m loving the flint in the tower by the way.

Eleanor’s cortège from Harby arrived at St. Albans on the 12 December 1290.  Unfortunately, none of this cross survives, the last accounts for it are from 1721, when the base was demolished to make way for a market cross, and then finally in 1810, when the cross was demolished.

Eleanor’s cortège moves on from St. Albans, to Waltham, where the lovely Waltham Cross (restored) still stands.  It’s a shame that it’s current location is in the middle of a modern shopping centre.  For those of you looking to see the original statues or sculptures of Eleanor, they have them at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

They also have a rather nice plaster cast of her tomb from Westminster Abbey, the original of which I’ve been able to visit with special permission.

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Books I’ve Been Lusting After Lately

Some brand new, some fairly new ones here:

  • English Country Houses Interiors by Jeremy Musson

I love any books by Musson.

  • Bergere, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear by Serena Dyer

I am really in need of some good hat books!

  • The Late King’s Goods by Jeremy Brotton

Charles I’s art collection was amazing. I know a little about what was recovered, but not enough…

  • Spas, Wells & Pleasure Gardens of London by James Stevens Curl

I have his book on the Victorian way of death – and:

  • Vauxhall Gardens by David E. Coke

I’ve always been fascinated by the pleasure gardens, as so little of them survives.


Filed under Architecture, Art, Books, Costume, History

In Which Alexander Presents Himself

I am excited to say that – sadly not due to my recent post about some original Raeburns I’m trying to track down – but due to some lovely visitors I spoke to last week, I can finally say I now know where Alexander Mackenzie Fraser’s portrait is!

I have been given the name of the London Club in which it hangs, as he was positively identified as such – name and everything!  If I am able I will update further.

Now, just to find Martha and Elyza…

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City Graveyard Wanderings

I have been over the Summer wandering around some city graveyards during my lunch – the largest of which is St Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen.

This is a massive cemetery on King Street, and has graves from the Eighteenth Century, but the majority are Victorian.  There’s some great monuments and carvings, I especially like that many occupations are included and the Scottish tradition of including women’s maiden names.  Very handy if you’re a genealogist.

I took some pictures of some of the more unusual monuments (there were A LOT of broken shaft style ones, must have been a buy one get one free offer!) but the most intriguing one, is below.  Read the top part carefully…

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The Cowdray Park Sale

This sale is certainly interesting to me for a number of reasons historically and art-wise, but not least because the contents of Dunecht House are included in the sale.

Cowdray Park, when I last heard is also up for sale, but this September sale is the contents of both the houses.  From pictures to light fittings, furniture to carpets – though officially it is classed as an art sale.

The sale is from the 13-15 September 2011, and you can view an e-catalogue, listings or buy the catalogue online from Christie’s.  You may even be able to bid online should you wish to.

Cowdray Park Sale: Works of Art from Cowdray Park and Dunecht House – at Cowdray Park, West Sussex.

Hmm, to buy or not to buy a catalogue…


Filed under Antique, Architecture, Art, History

Have You Seen This Man?

(Or Woman).  As many of you know a hobby of sorts of mine is tracking down lost and missing paintings.  Hey, this art historian in training does not have an off button…

In particular at the moment I am looking at copies of Raeburns the originals of which I know were sold at the beginning of the 20th Century, and I’d love to know if any of you have seen them anywhere.  If the information is private, you are welcome to email me – I would not make this information public, it would only be noted.  Otherwise, please give me a shout if you have seen any of them in public collections anywhere!

The most prominent one I am looking for handily has a photograph on the web – Lt Gen Alexander Mackenzie Fraser.  Now, this is the photograph of the copy that was sold at Christie’s in 2001, and the one I am interested in, of course, is the original.  This is rumoured to be on display in London.  I am aware of one copy allegedly being in Essen, and I know where the other one is!

Another where there is a photo of the copy (though you may need to squint) is that of Elyza Fraser, who poses more of a problem, as I can only find a record of her sitting for Raeburn in a 1908 book about the artist.  The NGS has no record of her at all, or of where the original may be.  Another is her sister Martha Mackenzie, nee Fraser.  I know this was sold, and I have record of this, but I am assuming this is in a private collection as it has not been sighted since before 1920 and may possibly be in the USA.  No picture of her, I’m afraid!  She does look similar to her sister Elyza however, and if you think you may have seen her, but are not sure if you can find me a picture I can confirm it either way.

Any information appreciated, so do let me know!

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