Holiday in the Highlands Part B
In 1881 an article was published in the Northern Ensign as part of a series called A Holiday in the Highlands of Caithness. Chapter V was about Berriedale and Badbea. My previous blog ‘Caithness Convoy’ was the second part of the article. This blog starts at the beginning of the article for reasons explained previously.
|Entrance to Langwell House at Berriedale, Highlands|
|The bridge crossing the Langwell burn|
|Langwell Gardens from Google Earth|
Still keeping up the strath, which disclosed fresh objects of admiration at every step, we came upon the gardens, two large enclosures, surrounded by a wall eight or ten feet high, and sheltered on all sides from the keen winds off the neighbouring hills by noble old trees. Tall, narrow postern doors, occurring at intervals in the walls, gave the place a delightfully convent-like feeling.
|House in Langwell Gardens. |
At one of the entrances, amid a perfect wealth of sylvan glories, stands the gardeners cottage, one wall of which is completely covered by a vast rose bush, of the species known as “the Rose of Sharon,” from the fact of its having no thorns attached. This beautiful plant had attained quite tree-like dimensions, the stem at the ground being several inches in circumference, while high up, round little white curtained windows, its flowers clustered in luxuriant profusion – a realization, for once, of the impossibly pretty cottages depicted in the story books of our juvenile literature. The interior of the cottage was equally bien ideal with its fair-like surroundings.
|Langwell Gardens showing a wall. |
Source: Bill Fernie, Caithness.org.
Langwell Census 1881. Note the Gardener John Sutherland
and Neicy Cormack the Domestic Servant
As the gardener mischievously persisted in giving us, with the utmost gravity, the Latin botanical names of each plant or flower we remarked upon, this curiosity was also assigned some unintelligible title, leaving us as wise as before, till Niecie obligingly whispered, “The right name’s ‘Monkey Puzzles!’ His bees, of which he had a number of hives, were absorbing the gardener’s attention when we called. The new swarms, led off by their queens, were evidently desirous of “seeing life” before settling down to work, and flitted incessantly from one part of the garden to another, the danger being, of course, that they would extend their explorations over the walls, and emigrate to pastures new.
Source:Bill Fernie Caithness.org
One specially lively colony “lifted” nine or eleven times in a week – one of their cloud-like ascents taking place while we were looking at them, clustering on a bush, and for some minutes there was an uncomfortable likelihood of their settling on the crown of the visitor’s hat! We left the gardens with the flattering feeling of having enjoyed a private flower show all to ourselves. Another of the old Duke’s promenades of which we carried away a very vivid recollection was a species of Marine Parade along the cliffs to the south side of Berriedale. Below us as we walked the flocks of white sea-mews circles and wheeled in their tireless airy manoeuvres. We were informed that when these sea birds are seen hovering over the water in large numbers at this season of the year, the fishermen take it as in indication that the shoal of herrings is near the shore, as the birds prey upon the fish."
|The Fifth Duke of Portland|
The old Duke of Portland referred to, must, according to the dates given, have been William John Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland (12 September 1800 – 6 December 1879) a British aristocratic eccentric who preferred to live in seclusion. He had an underground maze excavated under his estate at Welbeck Abbey near Clumber Park in North Nottinghamshire. The various reports on his eccentricities make for fascinating reading.
The Abbey's kitchen gardens covered an area of 22 acres (8.9 ha), surrounded by high walls with recesses in which braziers could be placed to assist the ripening of fruit. One of the walls, a peach wall, measured over 1,000 ft (300 m) in length.
Despite his vast wealth the Duke of Portland was still collecting rent from the Badbea residents at that time.
A Holiday in the Highlands of Caithness, Chapter V, Berriedale and Badbea, Northern Ensign, Thursday January 13, 1881.
I think it is likely that the gardens have been renovated since the 1881 article was written.