Saturday, 17 October 2015

My Previous Home

Only three years ago we, Pat and I, were living in a stunningly beautiful area of Britain - the Scottish Borders.

We moved to take up a post in Mellerstain House, the home of the 13th Earl of Haddington and his family.

Our home was in the east wing of this stately home, which was built in 1725 by William Adam.  The west wing housed the Earl and family.

The main central house wasn't built until about 40 years later by the son of William Adam, Robert - one of the best architects ever.

    This is the southern aspect of Mellerstain House with the formal gardens in the foreground.

    Here is the Stone Hall, which is the first room that visitors see when they enter the east wing. On the extreme left, through the archway, is a centuries old stone spiral staircase which leads to where our home was. A wonderful and spacious apartment of some ten rooms, two bathrooms and large kitchen. It was just amazing.

    This is the music room, originally the main dining room. During the year there would be some wonderful musical events, followed by a supper in one of the lower rooms.  Classical music given by some truly superb artistes.  I used to love assisting with these evenings, greeting the musicians and singers and the audience. There would be approximately 80 guests at these evenings.

    Here is a view of the superb library.  This is probably the best room in Mellerstain House. The beautiful plasterwork designed by Robert Adam was inspired by his visits to Europe which depict various historical and mythical themes. A truly amazing room.

    South of the house is a large lake, home to two lovely swans who give birth to a family of cygnets annually. As and when these baby swans grow large enough they leave their Mellerstain lake home and leave Mum and Dad swan to enjoy their peaceful existence.  Hence the term 'empty nesters'

    We left this idyllic part of the Borders in September 2012 to be closer to our daughter Clare and our two grandchildren. It was lovely to be able to see them more often without the long and tiring drive south each time.  But it was so very sad to leave Mellerstain and all those we had come to know and love. In this parting photograph Pat and I are seated in the front. To the right of Pat is Isobel, youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Haddington. We first met Isobel when she was five years young. Just behind me is the lovely Countess Jane Haddington and behind her is Lord John Haddington, the 13th earl. Beside John Haddington are the housekeepers and, on the right, Gordon, the gardener; he does a remarkable job in tending these award-winning gardens.
    I am in a reminiscent mood, hence this posting.  We shall, one day, return to Mellerstain for a nostalgic visit.  May have to go by train or plane.  The long drive may be a tad too much for this aging old couple.  We do miss this lovely place. We really do.
    All the photographs are courtesy of Mellerstain House of course.


    Snowbrush said...

    I enjoyed this post thoroughly, Philip.

    PhilipH said...

    Thanks Snowy. There was a play that I saw when I was a lot younger: "Look Back in Anger". Whenever I look back it is never in anger, more like delight and pleasure. Hope things are looking up for you this weekend.

    Whisper Mist said...

    Such a beautiful estate in every sense of the word. The library is stunning. I hope you do return for a nice visit one day :) Lovely post which I really enjoyed. Thank you for sharing this.

    Fram Actual said...

    From my own perspective, I think it would be a bit intimidating to live and to work in such a regal, fabulous setting, Phil. I would be in constant fear of breaking something .... but, I am sure I could overcome that feeling and grow accustomed to such surroundings in a short period of time.

    I have toured some magnificent palaces in Europe, and the Mellerstain House appears to be as grand as any of them. You were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a number of years there. I hope you are able to return for a visit soon.

    The photographs are superb and the narrative eminently well-written. I am glad you did this piece, Phil, and that I am here to see it.

    ANITA said...

    Wow!!this is a dream!!!Did you actually live there in such a beautiful place????amazing!!Its just like something like Down townAbbey..

    I love the storie you put to the photoes and they are all very beautiful

    I hope you can visit the place once again

    I could really love to live like that..studying birds and animals and flowers..Sitting knitting in those rooms with soo much history...

    Thank you Philip for showing this

    I wish you and family a wonderful sunday

    Best wishes!


    PhilipH said...

    Hi Whisper, Thanks for your comment, which I much appreciate. Always lovely to see you here.

    Fram, hello. When I first set foot in the big house late one October night was a bit scary. I had to call at the gardener's cottage who was going to let us in to our new home. All went well, fortunately. It DID take me a few weeks to get familiarised with all the security side but that was what I was there for. A new life-style!

    Anita, it was a fabulous place to live. And I was paid to be there! When I went for the interview Lord Haddington asked me if I had any relations or friends in Scotland. I said no, none at all. Why do you want to come and live here then was his next question. I simply said: 'I have always dreamed of living in a house like this but could never afford to, so I thought: "why not join somebody who has one" He roared with laughter and Pat thought I was stupid to say such a thing. He then thanked us for coming and said we would be hearing from them in due course.
    We popped into the tea-rooms for a coffee before driving home when the Administrator came in and said: "So glad I've caught you before you went home, Lord Haddington says you can have the job if you want it!" He then gave me some cash to cover my travel expenses. A wonderful end to the day.

    Sparkling Red said...

    Holy guacamole, what a place! Living there really must have been dreamy. I am in love with the ceiling of the library.

    the walking man said...

    Philip Those were definitely charmed years for you and the missus. You have been blogging long enough now to have made posts from your days there, I read them with a rapt fascination, as they reminded me of my years working in a major museum and handling art no one of the public could do more than look at. It was privilege to this day to have done that even though it was close to 25 years ago when I was laid off.

    I understand your feeling for Mellerstien Castle and it's occupants.

    Be Well old man and be glad now you have your children and grands close to you.

    PhilipH said...

    Thank you Sparkly and Mark.

    Yep, privileged to spend almost twenty years in the now peaceful and picturesque Scottish Borders in this beautiful house.
    The Haddington family made us feel 'at home' right from day one as were all the other people we met during our stay there.
    It wasn't so peaceful three or four centuries before-hand. There were bands of villainous men on horseback, the Reivers. The Borders was even worse than your town, Mark, Detroit. Murder, kidnap, rape ... you name it. How things change!

    All Consuming said...

    Ah a great post indeed Philip, filled happy nostalgia. I have that photograph, but couldn't help saving it again its so lovely. I'm so slow at catching up on people's blogs at the moment! Take care out there, Michelle Xx

    PhilipH said...

    Cheers Michelle. I do so hope you are doing as well as possible this week. Wonder how your various appointments went ... xx