Entering at fig. 2, we had the Billiard room on our right (fig 1) and my first impression on walking into Ardverekie House was of death. The entrance hall is a beautiful wood panelled space, but around the edges of the space between ceiling and wall are the heads. Deer skulls, some fully restored with fur and eyes, and all with antlers. When James Ramsden, the millionaire Huddersfield industrialist who built the existing house, went hunting, he aimed his gun at the perfect 12 or 14 point specimen.
Today game is stalked with different priorities in mind. But those heads filled the billiard room as well; many initialled by those who killed them. It took my attention from the full size billiard table and the ancient books and the even more ancient Persian rugs that lie rumpled, torn and wrinkled beneath my feet. They are part of a large collection of Persian rugs kept in the house. I’m happy to report that the others all seemed in better condition.
It is part of the charm of Ardverekie that it is a family home and nothing is behind glass or fenced off by ribbons.
We saw so much and before it becomes a jumble in my mind, and want to retrace my steps. The beautiful wood panelling is now drying out because of the modern central heating but so far I saw no signs of damage. We were shown through a door and tucked in the corner off the entrance hall was a wooden bench type toilet with a porcelain bowl. I remember it featured (or one like it) in the tv series with the banker having difficulties getting the loo to flush)
From there we progressed to fig 3, the main hall where we gazed at the stairs almost expecting to see a portrait of Hector MacDonald staring back at us. There isn’t a tartan carpet on the stairs; the tv company put it down and hung tartan curtains at the huge window, but when they left they took carpet and curtains with them.
From there we went into fig 5, the library with its fire and vast numbers of books plus a ladder to access them. The wood panelling made the room dark and by contrast the ladies parlour, fig 4, was much lighter and brighter, so that they could read and do their needlework. The huge dining room, fig 6, was also dark but I imagine with candlelight and ladies in diamonds and silverware gleaming on the table, it would look magnificent. The table seats 14, but if the guests number only 13, then a teddy bear seated in a baby chair in the corner window takes his place at table to make up the numbers. A smaller round table in the window is where the family have breakfast when they are in residence. A dumb waiter at the side held pots of jam and tomato ketchup.
Just outside was the “modern” kitchen, fig 7, which did not look that modern to me until we went and found “Lexie’s old kitchen.” A monstrosity! The old sinks have been removed and new washing machines installed, plus a sheet press and iron. The old iron was almost too heavy to lift and the gas iron was a scary thing. I often wondered how Lexie managed her skimpy outfits in the Scottish climate (think heat, cold and midgies!) but the huge black cast iron range was taller than me and probably threw out enough heat to keep her warm.