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Scottish Gardens
Stobhall, Perthshire


N one respect the beautiful house of Stobhall impresses one with melancholy. It is a. notable and commendable example of the manner in which ancient architecture should be preserved from the ravages of our most edacious climate; but it is no longer "a home," except for the caretaker, whose presence only seems to accentuate the silence which reigns undisputed where of old -

"Joy was within and joy without,
Vnder that wlonkest waw [splendid wall],
Quhair Tay run down with stremis stout
Full strecht vuder Stobschaw."

The lands of Stobhall were granted by Robert the Bruce to Sir Malcolm Drummond after the great victory of Bannockburn, when so many of English Edward's barons were dispossessed of their estates in Scotland. It was the birthplace of Sir Malcolm's great-granddaughter, Annabella, who became Queen of Scots by her marriage with Robert III. It has descended through a long line of Drummonds to its

present owner, the Earl of Ancaster, whose abode is in Strathearn, at Drummond Castle, famous for its architectural garden and terraces. Some might deem that garden more worthy than Stobhall of a place in this series, but it has been made the subject of so many essays and illustrations that we have given preference to the lonely and less well-known house in Strathtay.

In truth, there is little that can be called a garden at Stobhall, only the place once bright with summer flowers, whereof a few, such as the grey asters in Miss Wilson's picture, have clung to the soil, marking the change of seasons as the old sundial does the fleeting hours, till hours and seasons together roll up into centuries. Perhaps the place is fairer in its desolation than it ever was when it teemed with busy life. Certes, it would be difficult to find in all Scotland a more enchanting scene than I beheld one May morning on visiting this spot. The pearl-grey walls of the old house gleamed softly in the sunshine, deeply mantled in the fresh verdure of sycamore and beech. Steeply sloped the greensward to the river, starred and wreathed with late narcissus, purple orchis, and myriad humbler blooms. Far below where I stood, the Tay, lordliest of Scottish rivers, swept in smooth curves, shimmering in the light, glowering in the shade, to fling itself in sudden tumult over the Linn o' Campsie. And all around, far as the eye could range, was wealth of woodland, ancient trees and affluent tillage. What a paradise of flowers might be created here! which, after all, is but a sorry pretext for including among Scottish gardens a place where a garden was, but is not. Our excuse is that Stobhall remains in its desolation one of the most fascinating places in the realm.

Those who are curious in architecture will find in the buildings interest that they miss in the garden. As at Barneluith, instead of a single mansion there is a group of detached dwellings, the oldest and chief of them bearing the date 1578, and containing a remarkable chapel and rooms for priests. The ceiling of the chapel is in five compartments, each painted with figures on horseback, except one, which represents Rex Mauritanae mounted on an elephant. This decoration, coupled with the profusion of heraldic devices and the repetition Drummond motto GANG. WARILY, recalls the coloured roofs of the Chateau de Blois, with the everlasting salamander of Francois Ir. One cannot be too grateful to the family which has so faithfully preserved this choice example of the Scottish renaissance.


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