‘Bone’ up on your history

A ‘tail’ of a house and the emergence of a new breed of dog: the ‘Golden Retriever’, by Barbara Cornford.

In my role as a metadata assistant I have the joy of reading the personal diaries of many a well-known historical figure, the day to day joys, misery, shenanigans; in most cases written by persons from a very privileged strata of British society. I am currently working on the diaries of Lady Jean Hamilton. Through her wonderful writings I can share her day to day thoughts, actions and friendships – she is deliciously explanatory and self- aware, which engenders empathy from the reader.

I have a natural curiosity, it is not enough for me just to know that the object of my work stayed or visited with friends in this house or that house, I like to research to see if I can find out what the house looked like and if it still exists so that I can share a little of what has been described; the approach to such houses, their thoughts and opinions of the exterior and interior and the appreciation of the landscape surrounding them. One such house Lady Hamilton was invited to was Guisachan in Scotland as the guest of Lady Tweedmouth. In 1854 the Guisachan Estate was bought by Edward Dudley Coutts Marjoribank, who later in 1881 became Lord Tweedmouth.

 

Guisachan House

Another view of Guisachan House

Lord Tweedmouth had built lodges for visitors, kennels for his dogs, farm steads and importantly a new village which was called Tomich. He then began to move tenants from their crofts because they were too near the main house: they had no choice but to be relocated. The village was provided with a school, brewery and laundry.

Lord Tweedmouth was very interested in dogs of the hunting and sporting kind and at Guisachan he established a new breed. ‘Nous’, a wavy coated retriever, was bred with ‘Belle’ a Tweed Water spaniel: this created three yellow wavy-coated puppies which were named Primrose, Crocus [a male dog] and Cowslip – the first ‘Golden retrievers’ were born.

‘Nous’ photographed in old age

Nous in old age

Those Golden Retriever owners who are aware of the importance of Guisachan and Lord Tweedmouth go on an annual pilgrimage to what is left of the house and grounds in celebration of the breed. In July 2013, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland hosted more than 350 people from 15 countries and 222 golden retrievers at a gathering on the Guisachan grounds. Not long afterwards, an organisation called the Friends of Guisachan [www.friendsofguisachan.org] raised money for a statue of a Golden Retriever at Guisachan to commemorate the achievement of Lord Tweedmouth.

Statue commemorating the establishment of the Golden Retriever breed

The GRCS will be hosting a ‘Guisachan Gathering’ in July 2018. The gathering will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Golden Retriever breed at Guisachan House by Lord Tweedmouth. The event will begin on Monday 16th July 2018 and end with a Breed Championship Show at Cannich on Friday 20th July 2018.

guisachan-photo-shoot

To return to the house, it now lies as a ruinous shell, purchased and denuded of its contents, roof and anything of value. Open to the elements and almost totally destroyed, it shines like a beacon to those who know and love the breed called the Golden Retriever.

Ruins

MEMORIAL

 

Bibliography

Clan Marjoribanks Society website http://www.marjoribanks.net/lord-tweedmouths-golden-retrievers/

https://friendsofguisachan.org

Barbara Cornford

 

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