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The History of Fettercairn
Chapter IX.—History from 1861 to 1898


THE next event in order is one that will be long remembered. It was the visit incognito of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, and the late lamented Prince Consort, on the 20th of September, 1861. Accompanied by the late Princess Alice and her affianced husband, the Prince Louis of Hesse, the Lady Churchill, General Gray, and others of the suite, they set out on the morning of that day from Balmoral, crossed the shoulder and "ladder" of Mount Kean to Invermark Lodge to pay a visit to the late Fox Maule (Lord Dalhousie). In the afternoon they drove down Glenesk to Fettercairn. The rest of the journey, which in Her Majesty's Journal is termed "The Second Great Expedition," may beet be described in her own words, as follows :

"A little further on, again (at the foot of Glenesk), we came to a wood, where we got out and walked along The Bum, Major M'Inroy's. The path winds along through the wood, just above this most curious narrow gorge, which is unlike any of the other lynns; the rocks are very peculiar, and the burn very narrow, with deep pools completely overhung by wood. The woods and grounds might be in Walen or even in Haivthornclen. We walked through the wood and a little way along the road till the carriages overtook us. We had three miles further, to drive to Fettercairn, in all 40 miles from Balmoral. We came upon a flat country, evidently much cultivated, but it was too dark to see anything. At a quarter-past seven o'clock we reached the small, quiet town, or rather village of Fettercairn, for it was very small, not a creature stirring, and we got out at the quiet little inn,  'Ramsay Arms,' quite unobserved, and went at once upstairs. There was a very nice drawing-room, and next to it a dining-room, both very clean and tidy—then to the left, our bedroom, which was-excessively small, but also very clean and neat, and much better furnished than at Gran town. Alice had a nice room, the same size as ours; then came a mere morsel of one (with a "press bed") in which Albert dressed; and then came Lady Churchill's bedroom just beyond. Louis and General Gray had rooms in an hotel called the ' Temperance Hotel,' opposite. We dined at eight, a very nice, clean, good dinner. Grant and Brown waited. They were rather nervous, but General Gray and Lady Churchill carved,. and they had only to change the plates, which Brown soon got into the way of doing. A little girl of the house came in to help, but Grant turned her round to prevent her looking at us. The landlord and landlady knew who we were, but no one else except the coachman, and they kept the secret admirably. The evening being bright moonlight, and very still, we all went out, and walked through the village, where was a sort of pillar or town cross on-steps, and Louis read, by the light of the moon, a proclamation for collections of charities which was stuck up on it. We walked on along a lane, a short way, hearing nothing whatever, not a leaf moving, but the distant barking of a dog ! Suddenly, we heard a drum and fifes ! We were greatly alarmed, fearing we had been recognised; but Louis and General Gray who went back, saw nothing whatever. Still, as we walked slowly back, we heard the noise from time to time; and, when we reached the inn door, we stopped, and saw six men march up with fifes and a drum (not a creature taking any notice of them) go down the street and back again. Grant and Brown were out, but had no idea what it could be. Albert asked the little maid, and the answer was,  'It's just a band,' and that it walked about in this way twice a week. How odd ! It went on playing some time after we got home. We sat till half-past ten working and Albert reading, and then retired to-rest. Saturday, September 21st. Got to sleep after two or three o'clock. The morning was dull and close and misty, with a little rain; hardly any one stirring, but a few people at their work. A traveller had arrived at night, and wanted to come up into the dining-room, which is the * commercial travellers' room'; and they had difficulty in telling him he could not stop there. He joined Grant and Brown at their tea; and on his asking, 'What's the-matter here?' Grant answered, 'It's a wedding party from Aberdeen.' At 'the Temperance Hotel' they were very anxious to know whom they had got. All, except (General Gray, breakfasted a little before nine. Brown acted as my servant, brushing my skirt and boots, and taking any message; and Grant as Albert's valet. At a quarter to ten we started the same way as before, except that we were in the carriage which Lady Churchill and the General had yesterday. It was, unfortunately, misty, and we could see no distance. The people had just discovered who we were, and a few cheered us as we went along. We passed close to Fettercairn, Sir J. Forbes's house; then, farther on to the left, Fasque, belonging to Sir T. Gladstone, who has evidently done a great deal for the country, having built many good cottages. We then came to a very long hill, at least four miles in length, called the Cairniemonth, [The accompanying illustration shows on the left the road branching off to the Cairn o' Mount, and that on the right to the Glen o' Drum-tochty; while in the foreground are seen the Clatterin' Brig and "Marity-may" well, the resort of pic-nic parties and happy youngsters, who on many a summer day "ran about the brae," or "paidlet i' the burn frae morning sun till dine."] whence there is a fine view; but which was entirely obscured by a heavy driving mist. We walked up part of it, and then for a little while Alice and I sat alone in the carriage."

In the same natural and interesting manner the remainder of the journey, by way of Glendye, Finzean, Glentanner, and round by Glenmuick to Balmoral—in all eighty-two miles for the two days—is minutely and faithfully described; but the same in detail need not here be quoted. It may be proper, however, to narrate one or two little incidents of the Royal visit not hitherto recorded.

Brown and Grant, Her Majesty's faithful servants, were sent three months beforehand to arrange with Mr Durward of the "Ramsay Arms." From his being an old acquaintance, they had little hesitation in confiding the plans of the proposed visit. Her Majesty states in her narrative that none but the landlord, landlady, and the coachman knew who they were; but one of the maidservants, a Deeside girl, also knew. She had a peep at the party on arrival, and hurrying to her mistress, she blurted out "That's the Queen, I've seen her many a time." In the interests of the house, she promised secrecy, and kept it. Referring to another statement: "At the 'Temperance Hotel' they were very anxious to know whom they had got." Mr M'Donald, the landlord, remarked, the same evening, to Mr Durward, that his visitors must be of the royal family, from the coats of arms on their belongings. In admiration of Her Majesty's queenly condescension, the villagers relate that on coming down stairs for their evening walk, the Queen and Lady Churchill noticed a pile of oaten " bannocks " as part of the harvesters' supper laid out upon a table off the kitchen, that they asked and took with them a piece of the same to taste and test its quality.

And to show that Her Majesty knew all about the place, it is said that when listening to the flute band she jocularly suggested they should be asked to play the "Bob o' Fettercairn." The Prince Consort and General Gray had a morning walk, and spent some time looking at the headstones in the churchyard. A few minutes before starting, the royal tourists wished the people to know who they were; and it may be left to the readers of this account to fancy how some thought they were hoaxed, and others more credulous hurried in their excitement to catch a passing glance of their gracious Queen. To commemorate this event, more auspicious to Fettercairn than any former one, a handsome triumphal arch was erected by subscription. It will be described in another chapter.

On the 10th of March, 1863, the rejoicings to celebrate the Prince of Wales' marriage took the form of a school children's procession and treat, and for adults an evening conversazione.

In 1871, telegraphic communication was extended to Fettercairn and Edzell. At midnight, on 23rd October, 1872, the villagers were aroused by the church bell, the occasion being a lire at Fasque House, which, by prompt action, was happily kept from extending to the main building. A few months thereafter, in 1873, a grand entertainment was given at Fasque by Sir Thomas and Lady Gladstone to the people of the parish and district. Their tenantry of Strachan were also invited. The occasion was the celebration of the coming of age of Captain John Robert, now Sir John R. Gladstone, Bart.

In January, 1884, rejoicings on an extensive scale took place for the Hon. Charles Forbes Trefusis having attained his majority. The village was illuminated by rows of Chinese lamps, and an elevated jet of electric light. A huge bonfire blazed on the "Cross-shouther." A dinner was given in the Ramsay Arms, and was followed by a brilliant assembly in the Public School, which was nicely decorated for the occasion.

To celebrate the Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen the people of Fettercairn, not unmindful of a former favour, acted their part with true loyalty.

On the 28th and 29th of August, 1888, a grand Bazaar was held in the Public School, to raise funds for the erecting of a Public Hall, which, along with other public buildings, will be hereafter described.

In October, 1889, the distillery at Nethermill was burnt down. This disaster caused the removal from the village of a good many workmen and their families, and eventually of the late Mr Durie, distiller, and his family.

Not to be behind other places, a Golf Club, with the Rev. Mr Belcher as captain, and Mr Robert Murray as secretary, was inaugurated in 1892, after the laying out of an excellent nine-hole course on the hillside of Balnakettle, and kindly granted free of charge by the tenant, Mr William Middleton.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was appropriately celebrated. Sir John R Gladstone, as Chairman of the School Board, treated very liberally the children of the parish; and the people, with one mind, joined heartily in celebrating this joyful event.


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