Hopetoun House is Scotland’s, if not Britain’s, grandest stately home.
We have had one after another amazing experience during this trip, based on the fantastic good fortune of having locals who have been kind enough to show us around.
Kerry took us for a private tour of Hopetoun House and its gardens.
Hopetoun and its inhabitants are a case of ‘google please’. I can’t possibly describe the ins and out of this 300-odd-year-old mansion sitting on a huge estate beside the Firth of Forth, within sight of Edinburgh’s famous suspension bridge.
Hopetoun features breathtaking proportions in sheer size; unsurpassed carved wooden panels and cornices. Priceless furniture and tapestry hangings and art; huge and lovely Persian rugs, one custom-made with a previous Marquis’s name written in Persian script into the actual weave; gorgeous Georgian ceilings.
Grand sweeps of lawns fore and aft, with black St Kilda sheep grazing thereon! Only-in-Britain walled gardens which Bris & Kerry’s daughter Skye, Lady Hopetoun, is re-establishing with astonishing skill (perhaps not quite so astonishing, considering the family penchant for magnificent gardens).
One of the previous Earls was the first Governor General of Australia; one was Viceroy of India for 7 years. Theirs was the first Scottish family to introduce life-long housing for former employees; their legacy of public service is huge.
It was great to have the opportunity of an insight into the workings of the family who actually live there, and the complexities of the peerage. And we left Edinburgh and Hopetoun later than we had anticipated, Kerry and Bris having been so kind and welcoming and full of fascinating chat. I can’t believe the generosity of spirit of our friends on this side of the world.
So then we travelled to St Andrews, Fife, which is Mecca for Robert the Golfer and where we are staying tonight – much contrary to our tiny itinerary for seeing the Highlands. A lot to do now in 2 days. But we will sleep in a gorgeous hotel overlooking the sea and St Andrews golf links. And it’s a case of every moment counting, and every moment’s being very, very worthwhile no matter how far we get or how much we end up seeing.