January 2016 - Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design
Happy New Year. Our first Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 (#IAD2016) local celebration story is brought to us by Hannah Inglis, a young enterprising member of The Loch Earn Tourism Information Group and our communities (Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre, St Fillans).
Hannah set up a pop - up - shop in Balquhidder village with her mum at the age of 16. The shop known as "The Enchanted Cottage", pops open over many weekends. Gifts and natural beauty products are on sale complementing mum Alison's talents as an Indian champissage Scotland course tutor and business lecturer.
At 17 Hannah received a certificate for her contribution as a young reporter in the Stirling Community Newspaper Awards 2015. Her article is about Stronvar Farm and Stronvar House in Balquhidder. After researching the history of the building, Hannah made her article come alive by taking readers back to 1825 and on to 1850. Thank you to Hannah and The Villagers Newspaper for granting LETI permission to publish the article. Thank you to David Johnston of the Villagers News for sharing his photographs with us for more people to enjoy. NB: Stronvar house has been bought since Hannah's article was written. It is currently being restored by its new owners.
Photo copyright Johnston Johnstone, The BLS Villagers News
Stronvar Stories - Balquhidder
Hannah's stories as published in The Villagers News community newspaper
South east corner of Stronvar Farm as it was in 1982
Stronvar Stables (Farm)
Hello, my dear readers! Let’s go back into the year of 1825 when John Lorn Stewart built the stables for Glen Buckie house (Before Carnegie bought the house).
I had taken a ride out towards the stables on my horse, I came to a stop once I arrived in the courtyard, it was early morning and there didn’t seem to be anyone around. I tied up my horse next to a water trough. I looked around and saw four horses in a tiny stable all huddled together.
“Filip! Move over!” shouted one horse.
“I can’t, Jeffrey, Scar Face is in my way!” pleaded Filip.
“Scar Face, move over!” shouted Jeffrey again.
“I can’t, Crazy Pants is in my way! We need a bigger stable,” complained Filip.
I then saw that the coachman of the carriage had seen what was happening. I pretended to groom my horse as I watched.
He led the horses outside, one by one, tying them up to the carriage. I watched in shock as Crazy Pants reared in panic.
“Calm down, old boy!” said the coachman in a soft and gentle voice. Crazy calmed down soon after.
A man came running through the courtyard and he said to the coachman, “Mr Stewart is running late for his meeting, you must be quick!” He climbed on the back of the coach once all of the horses were tied up.
I saw that the horses kept nudging and shoving each other as they trotted their way out of the courtyard, and then they were galloping down the track towards Glen Buckie house.
“Come on girl!” I quickly mounted my grey horse and galloped out of the courtyard. We quickly caught up with the carriage, and I could still see the four horses nudging each other as they came to a halt outside of the house.
A man hurriedly climbed inside the carriage. I never got to seen Mr Stewarts face. The coachman was speaking to him.
“Yes, the horses were in a very bad mood when we left. I think it’s the stable, Sir,” he said, whipping the horses and they galloped further away.’
Fact Time: There was evidence of a small stable Steading on the site of the current Stronvar Farm, pre 1825. The stable block was enlarged in or around 1825.
‘Let’s go back into Carnegie’s era (1849).
had heard that Carnegie wanted to build the west wing of the Farm, so I galloped from my home on my chestnut mare Donna and arrived at the house. I saw that Carnegie was already at Bryce the architect’s hut, walking inside. I hurriedly tied Donna to a tree and ran towards the hut, peering in the window.
“Bryce, I have been thinking,” Carnegie was saying. “Since you have made such great progress on the house, I was wondering if you would want to be paid a little more cash?”
“And how would I earn that?” Bryce asked, in a curious tone.
Design the west wing of the farm - and I shall pay you a great deal of money!”
“I guess it’s a deal,” said Bryce, taking Carnegie’s hand and shaking it. I saw the Hannah Inglis is back again - this time with ‘history news’ on Stronvar Farm...edge of Carnegie’s mouth turning into a smirk.
I trotted towards the Farm on Donna. I sighed. I couldn’t believe Bryce was going to put himself under so much more stress just for money.
I jumped off Donna’s back as we halted in the courtyard, where I led her inside one of the stables - and muttered to her.
“Oh dear, Donna, what a mess Bryce has made.”
Fact Time: In 1849 when the Carnegies bought the main house there was extensive work carried out on the farm as well. The west end of the courtyard was entirely rebuilt in the 1850s.
East wing as it was in 1988
Photo copyright David Johnston, The BLS Villagers News
Hannah Inglis steps back in time to 1850 with the history ‘news’ on Stronvar House.
Fact Time: There has been a house on the site since the 16th - 17th century. The house was renamed Glen Buckie after the Stewarts took over. Carnegie then changed the house’s previous name to Stronvar once he bought the estate in 1849.
John Lorn Stewart had the house rebuilt in 1825, and the stables (Stronvar Farm) were added in 1828.
David Carnegie was a Scot who was brought up in Sweden, after his ancestors fled there after they supported the Jacobites at Culloden 1746.
Carnegie made his millions by brewing and refining sugar in Sweden.
"Today I overheard David Carnegie, the man who had the idea of rebuilding the house, and David Bryce the famous architect, discussing ideas.
Carnegie was asking Bryce if he could design a new church as well as the house.
"I think I could," said Bryce, his voice matter-of-fact.
"And how much would you want to be paid for this? Could I maybe get a 'two for one'?" Carnegie asked, a little too seriously.
I saw them exchanging the architectural drawings.
"Oh yes, these are fantastic!" Carnegie exclaimed. "But maybe you could move the turret to the left wing?"
Bryce let out a muffled sigh.
"Of course Mr. Carnegie."
I could hear Bryce shuffling back towards his desk and the sound of slate scratching against the paper.
"Very well Bryce," said Carnegie, "I shall see you tomorrow."
I heard the sound of Carnegie's footsteps inching towards the door. I cringed! I ran out of the tiny wooden hut, which was Bryce's workplace. I hid behind a giant tree outside as Carnegie sauntered past me towards his carriage.
The weather was awful; the rain was like claws as it scratched against my bare arms and my blue cotton dress.
"Scottish weather," I muttered to myself. I watched as Carnegie climbed inside his stupendous carriage, drawn by six horses, all grey in colour. As the carriage pulled away and the horses started moving forward down the steep hill, I saw a small rental sign on the rear of the carriage.
I whispered the word "cheap" and then I tutted.
The next day, 65 men and 3 women walked from their houses up towards the building site. The men got straight to work in the awful weather; they built up tall walls of stones for the house, and it was extremely hard labour. The women had a stall at the grassy area of the site. They were all huddled together in shelter from the rain, and on the stall surface were a few rolls and loaves of bread. I walked towards the stall and took a roll from the basket and paid for it. One of the women smiled and thanked me.
I set off down towards the small wooden hut as Carnegie's carriage pulled up alongside it. The horses snorted as they halted - they looked so tired and extremely bored as I bit into my roll.
Then Carnegie climbed out of the carriage. The horses breathed a sigh of relief! Carnegie wore a long black coat and, for a man with millions of pounds, he wore old tattered grey wellies on his feet.
His butlers gathered around him suddenly. One of them was carrying an umbrella and was holding it over Carnegie's dazzling hair. They followed him towards the little wooden hut where Bryce was working (or hiding).
The butlers stood in front of the hut - they were like puppies that were learning to obey their master. Carnegie pounded on the door.
"Bryce! Open up!" he shouted.
I watched as Bryce opened the door. He had black circles under his eyes, his skin was very pale and I guessed he had been working all night, judging by the ink marks scattered all over his hands.
Carnegie strutted inside like he owned the place (well, he did!). His butlers still stood outside - I imagined that their tails were wagging happily.
I had to get a closer look, so I snuck behind the side of the hut and peered through a window. I saw that the room was scattered with books, and there was ink on the pillows of Bryce's tiny bed. There were drawings hung up all over the walls. The poor man, I thought.
Carnegie and Bryce entered; Bryce let Carnegie sit in his desk chair.
"Good lord man, what has happened!?"
Carnegie looked amused as he saw the mess of Bryce's hut.
Bryce never spoke.
Carnegie started speaking again, "Anyway, the workers are from the village, and I am still wondering if they should be paid or not. I am going to see how they do with their brick work."
Bryce nodded wearily.
"So, Bryce... the drawings. Are they ready?"
"No, sir," Bryce coughed. "I still need to finish the back part."
"Bryce. I NEED those drawings right now. The house is already being built."
"Mr. Carnegie, I just need a few days to rest."
A few days? I thought the man looked like he needed a month!
"Fine. Have your days off. I guess I will just need to employ another architect. Maybe your nephew, John."
Carnegie huffed like a child.
"No sir, please!" Bryce pleaded. "Finish them,"
"and take a bath, will you? You smell like a skunk."
I looked over at the building site. I watched as my two-horse carriage pulled up. I smiled and ran over towards the horses.
"Dasher, Donna!" I hugged my two beautiful horses, they sniffed my hands. I fed them a carrot each.
Was Carnegie actually blackmailing Bryce? I thought in disbelief as I sat down inside the small carriage. I looked out of the window and saw the men working very hard in the dreadful weather. I watched as the women gossiped as they were still huddled together away from the rain. I really hoped they got their fair share of money.'
Fact Time: David Bryce was a famous Victorian architect whom David Carnegie employed to design Stronvar House. Bryce also designed the new church. Bryce was born in Edinburgh - his father was a successful builder. He is now buried in Edinburgh New Calton Cemetery beside his nephew John Bryce, also an architect. In 1850, 65 men and 3 women were all strangers and temporarily living in the village. They were employed to build Stronvar House. Stronvar House'
Other Stories for IA2016