Gardie: A Shetland House and its People

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Hardback edition

The Shetland islands, lying to the north of Scotland, occupy a strategic position in the north Atlantic. Battle fleets as well as trading and fishing vessels have sheltered in its anchorages, and events in Britain and Europe have had their impact on island life. Built in 1724 on the shores of the great natural harbour of Bressay Sound, Gardie House holds an extensive family archive. From its contents comes the story of the house’s passage through turbulent times and the everyday life of the generations who lived in and around it. These have included a diverse set of individuals, ranging from Magnus Henderson, who built the house on the proceeds of his fish export business, to Norman Cameron, a veteran of the Somme; and the people who lived and worked around them, from Marion Cowwife, who kept the “big hoose” supplied with milk, to Laurence Laurenson, estate tenant for 77 years at Norwick in Unst. The house has also played host to prominent visitors to Shetland, from Sir Walter Scott, who dined at Gardie during his tour of the Scottish islands in 1814, to Sir John Betjeman, who described the drawingroom as among the finest rooms in Scotland. What emerges is a portrait of the complexity of island life, set against the social and economic changes of the house’s almost three centuries. Most of the documents in this book have never before been published; some have only recently been discovered. The book is profusely illustrated with maps and paintings, mostly from the Gardie House Archive. Wendy Scott is a graduate of Edinburgh University and was formerly Reporter to Shetland Children’s Panel. She lived at Gardie House for more than thirty years, when she and her husband bought the old house back to life, and restored the derelict walled gardens. She has published many articles on Shetland history and gardening.

Wendy Scott

Hardback

196 pages