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Huntly Castle
Ancient Home of Queen's Ancestors

Newspaper article (Publication Unidentified) published about the
26th. July 1937

The ultimate disposal of the noble fortalice that for nearly five centuries was the home of Queen Elizabeth’s ancestors, becomes a subject of public interest since Charles James George Paterson who died in Edinburgh early on Saturday morning was, in male descent, the last of his line. His sister, Miss Victoria Paterson is the solitary survivor of a large family.

Over twenty years ago the late laird disposed of the lands of Castle Huntly. The castle was offered for sale, and was bought in, while the larger part of the once rich estate passed to different owners near and far, with the major part of Longforgan village, indwellers thirled to tradition, continuing to regard Mr Paterson as "The Laird". On his part the old ties remained unchanged; and at Lonforgan’s celebration of the Silver Jubillee he received an ovation that demonstrated the affection of his homely neighbours and friends.

Not alone the future of Castle Huntly, but that of the famous Wallace Cottage in Longforgan, the village cross crumbling away in the Castle Park, and the green stone on which William Wallace the Liberator, rested while fleeing from Dundee after striking the first blow for Scottish independence, all these are now exciting many minds.

And the ultimate disposal of much else, for the laird had what connoisseurs regarded as great possessions — Raeburn portraits, furnishings in Castle Huntly dating from the visit of Charles II and precious bric-a-brac in The Cottage at Longforgan.

A Famous Ball

The "Evening Telegraph and Post" published recently an article recording the orgy that took place at the ball which introduced Mr Paterson’s ancestor to society in Dundee and district. He was George Paterson, a typical example of the Scottish adventurers who exploited India in the service of the East India Company. He was both doctor and diplomat and in both capacities he served the interests of the great Clive, the smash-and-grab soldier.

George Paterson acquired fame and fortune in the province of Arcot, and the dramatic chronicle of his adventures is preserved in manuscripts massed, carefully enough, in an outbuilding in Castle Huntly.

George Paterson returned to Scotland with a large fortune. He must have been a man of exceptional ability and he had social ambitions. In the letters of George Dempster of Dunnichen the account of the ball in Dundee already referred to indicated that society in the city and county regarded him as a parvenu beyond the pale. But Dempster sponsored him and a flood of wine floated him into the inner circle. He was to make good.

Lady of the Lyons

In 1776 the widow of John, seventh Earl of Strathmore and ninth Earl of Kinghorne, elected to live in London and sold the estate of Castle Lyon — as it was named then — to the Indian nabob, George Paterson, who paid £40,000 for it. Then with the prestige he had acquired he married the Hon. Anne Gray, daughter of the twelfth Lord Gray whose ancestor had built the castle in 1452. Thus the grand old fortalice was reunited with its original owners. Mr Paterson restored its first name of Castle Huntly.

While the Lyons owned it, Castle Lyon, in the middle of the seventeenth century, Patrick, Earl of Kinghorne who became first Earl of Strathmore, came to it as a mere youth from study at St. Andrews. Cultured, shrewd, industrious and with the flair for building he applied himself to enlarging and beautifying the castle and recovering the waste lands around it. Then he brought home a bride. The magistrates of Dundee gave the young couple a Civic Reception. At that time Glamis was derelict.

Links with Dundee

In 1777 the advent of Mr George Paterson and his aristocratic bride instituted associations between Castle Huntly and Dundee. Mr Paterson was a man of outstanding ability, cultured, amiable and generous. He was an ardent Freemason and associated himself with the Dundee Lodge which met in the Townhouse. To adorn the meeting place he gifted the superb, perhaps unequalled crystal chandeliers which are now stored away somewhere in our civic headquarters. Mr Paterson became the first Provincial Grand Master of Forfarshire. His family was portrayed in a famous Raeburn canvas which sold for a large sum. A few years ago a portrait of his wife, the Hon. Anne Gray was acquired by Lord Kinnaird and is in Rossie Priory.

Charles James George Paterson the last of his line was a laird of the old school with a paternal care for his people. He was imperious, brooking no opposition; yet withal he was considerately kind.

Victorian in mind and habit Mr Paterson was far from being cynical towards modernism. His outlook was large; his sympathies were broad. In the Lyon dining room at The Cottage in Longforgan he would, in a shrewd and charming way disburse his knowledge of the world and human nature felt, seen and heard in the course of travel far and wide.

His early career was passed in India where he captained the Calcutta Cricket Club. At Loretto School he had won honours on the sports field and in the classroom. He was victor in 100 and 300 yards races and he made fine scores in inter-city cricket. His love for cricket remained to the last and when old and feeble he still struggled to sit out a match at the Oval.

By his ancestor’s union with a daughter of the family of Lord Gray, Mr Paterson was remotely linked with the Lyons. Queen Elizabeth was aware of this fact and it added to her interest when, as Duchess of York, she visited Castle Huntly on several occasions, always admiring its commanding situation established as it is on a glacier-worn rock rising forty feet above the level of the Carse.

Unidentified Newspaper Article
Dated 29/4/39


Strange Dungeon Revealed

Castle Huntly 500-year-old Carse of Gowne landmark near Longforgan may yield up some of its secrets. Workmen, who were pulling down the 10 feet thick walls at the main entrance, are excited by the prospect of finding the mysterious passages and hidden vaults which the castle is said to contain.

The alterations are being undertaken at the behest of Colonel A G Paterson, DSO who intends to make Castle Huntly his home.

But the interesting part about the modifications is that they are not going to modernise the castle as a home but to rebuild certain parts in ancient style.

Castle Huntly was built originally in 1452 and there have been various additions and changes since.

Plans Found

During preliminary investigations a number of old plans were discovered in an underground wine cellar. This "find" apart from its outstanding interest to architects because it preserved details of 300-year-old styles of building, has been of great value in the reconstruction.

The idea is to rebuild according to the Georgian style, work which will have to wait until the tremendous task of pulling down the 10 foot walls is completed. The development may take a year.

Castle Huntly is reputed to have a ghost, a tunnel connecting it to Glamis Castle at one time it belonged to the Lyon family and was known as Lyon Castle and various dungeons cut out of the solid rock on which the building stands.

Everyone on the job is keyed up at the prospect of finding some link with these century-old secrets.

Perfectly Preserved

Richard Duff head gardener, unearthed some bones, not valuable in themselves as they appeared to belong to some animal but interesting on account of the fact that teeth buried in earth for approximately 300 years were in perfect condition. Duff made the discovery when the kitchen floor was being dug up in a part of the castle known to be over 300 years old. The teeth, set firmly in the jawbones were perfectly preserved. The explanation is believed to be that there was a strong proportion of lime in the ground.

Excavations in the hall have revealed a dungeon which can only be reached by a rope ladder. There appears to be no other means of entrance or exit, but a detailed examination will be made later. It is believed to be the place to which the host consigned those visitors who did not meet with his approval.

As the stones are being dislodged they are carefully marked, for the intention is to incorporate as many as possible in the new building. There is to be no compromise with utility. The new part of the castle will not be distinguishable in appearance from the old.

Unidentified Newspaper Article
Dated 2318/30


The ancient grandeur of Castle Huntly is in process of revelation.

Beside what was the moat, has been laid bare some massive stonework suggesting the foundations of a building probably defensive.

When Lord Gray of Fowlis erected this portalice in the middle of the 15th century Scotland was in a turmoil. Lord was against lord; clan was against clan. Men had to prepare their homes against attach. An ideal site for a stronghold was the ice-scarred rock rising 40 feet above the level of the Tay among the reedy marshes of the Carse.

As seen today Castle Huntly nobly massive as it is does not represent anything like the appearance it must have presented when it belonged to the Grays, nor when it passed into the possession of the Lyons.

When almost 300 years ago Lord Kinghome who became the first Earl of Strathmore came to it from St Andrews University he found the tower almost empty. At that time the Carse surrounding his empty house was largely marsh, and his diary, preserved in "The Glamis Book of Record" edited by the late Dr. A H Millar, records his enterprise in draining his water-logged lands.

Two centuries had elapsed since Lord Gray with whom the present owner of Castle Huntly Mr J G Paterson traces connection had erected a stronghold on the ice-scarred rock rising from the Carse marshes.

The rusty rings showing where boats once moored close under Castle Huntly indicate not that the Tay washed over the now smiling fields of the Carse, but that long levels were formerly threaded by deep waterways, of which the silvern stream meandering through Castle Huntly policies is the sole survivor.

Work for the W.R.I.

The known romance of history linked with Castle Huntly might be amplified by local folk if they could be induced to acquire the habits of antiquaries. Unfortunately Longforgan has not instituted a branch of the W.R.I.

Recently the Angus branches of the Women’s Rural Institute demonstrated in an memorable pageant their capacity for historical research. Homely housewives discussed even the likely footwear of Christian missionaries in Scotland a thousand and more years ago. In to the humdrum of domestic duty in cottages had come the inspirational charm of historic romance.

The W.R.I. would do a national service of permanent value if it co-ordinated the work of its branches in amplifying local histories. Some branch might pioneer in forming a collection of local photographs, local songs and poems, local pebbles, plants &c.

Longforgan parish has been historised by Rev. Adam Philip, DD, but since his very valuable book was published not a little new knowledge has emerged. The discovery at Castle Huntly affords proof that the ancient appearance of this Carse stronghold is not manifest in its present features. Even amateur research might add considerable to what the specialist knowledge of Dr Philip has placed on record.

The Duchess of York’s Visit

Not even the most alert among Longforgan folk were aware of the identity of the charming lady whose car some two years ago turned down the picturesque road that leads from Longorgan village to the beautiful gateway of Castle Huntly. The car contained the Duchess of York who then for the first time saw the glorious old castle once possessed by her forebears. The Duchess returned the next day bringing with her the Countess of Strathmore.

Castle Huntly, the old home of the Lyons, has an artistic grandeur impossible to Glamis. Its position on a rock rising 40 feet above the Tay level allows of noble views from its terraced gardens.

These gardens are exceedingly beautiful with the glamour of romance, associated with shady walks on which one expects, perhaps, to meet the figure of the Merry Monarch who came there to escape the dreary atmosphere under which his spirit sank at Scone. The dining-room in Castle Huntly retains probably all the furnishings present when Charles II enjoyed a meal in it.

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