handmade wrought iron gates bearing the heraldic crest of the
Lindsays opened onto the meandering driveway that
leads to the front of what is now called Kilconquhar Castle situated
close to Kinneuchar Loch.
House was the seat of the Bethunes. Sir Trotter Bethune,
Baronet, in 1878 proved before the House of Lords his right to the
peerage. On him was conferred the titles of Earl of Lindsay
and Lord Lindsay of the Byres.
In my younger
days what is now called Kilconquhar Castle was still a family mansion home and was called Kilconquhar House
or to the locals, Kinneuchar Hoose. The grounds were kept in
immaculate condition. All around the house grew many varieties of
azaleas and rhododendron bushes that were more like trees than
bushes. Kilconquhar House really was a show-off place. It was very grand.
The generous owners permitted the locals to use the grounds as a
place to go for evening walks.
Numerous peacocks strutted on the front
lawn. These never failed to show off their gorgeous plumage to
whoever came by. Bunny rabbits scampered everywhere. The carpet of
the woods was home to pheasants, partridge and woodcock. Overhead,
the canopy of the trees was home to crows and pigeons that in the
spring time built their nests there. As boys, we had free run of
the place. We treated Kilconquhar House with respect. Scotland is well known for
its world explorers who brought beautiful and exotic trees and
shrubs home with them from many far away parts of the world.
House became home to many of these. I was always intrigued by the
monkey puzzle trees that grew near Kilconquhar House. But most of all the grounds of Kilconquhar House were blessed with very old, enormous beech trees.
To me there is nothing more magnificent than old beech trees. As
they leaf out in the early spring the young unfolding leaves are the
most delicate shades of pale green that change to darker shades of
green as the summer progresses. In the autumn, their colours change
to myriad shades of copper. They truly are magnificent trees. The
woods also contained many old and mature chestnut trees. The ripe
horse chestnuts that fell in the fall augmented our supply of conkers.
(a game we played).
Beech tree shaded gatehouse
There was a
head gardener and two helpers whose job it was to keep the place in
pristine condition. As had most mansion houses of its day, Kilconquhar
House had a
large walled-in garden. The high walls performed many functions.
First, they excluded the rabbits who would have loved to get in and
they provided a wind-free climate. The walls were covered with
espaliered apples, pears, plums and many other fruits. Scottish
gardens are well known for their grandeur and Kilconquhar House was
one of the best. The gardeners took a great pride in their work.
They really made it a show-off place; one of the best in the country.
Usually on a week-end in August the gardens were declared open to
the public. This was a great event and a very posh affair. Well
cared for vintage Rolls-Royces and Bentleys and many of the great
old cars were to be seen parked all over the place. The day was as much
a car show as a flower show. Wide-brim, hatted ladies showed off
their summer finery, twirling their parasols as they strolled in the
garden. Kilconquhar House was all very grand in those days of gracious life style.