Posted by: christinelaennec | September 16, 2012

A visit to Drum Castle garden

Last month, on a beautiful day, I went to visit the Garden of Historic Roses at Drum Castle with my lovely neighbour Betty.  We had such a great time.  Here is the gate into the gardens.  Can you see that the ironwork makes a thistle pattern?  And you may also spy a stuffed rabbit clinging to the top of the gate.  I’d assumed that some poor child had lost its beloved stuffed animal – but I was wrong!  It’s intended as a warning to visitors to please keep the gate closed, lest the rabbits (real ones) come in.

The gate to the garden at Drum Castle.

After such a rainy, rainy summer (the wettest summer in Britain for 100 years), the roses were a bit bedraggled.  I see that Michael and I came here almost exactly two years ago, after a sunnier summer (post is here).  But the garden was still extremely lovely:

The Garden of Historic Roses, Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire. August 2012.

Here’s another bench inviting us to sit down and enjoy the view:

Drum Castle garden of Historic Roses

The garden is divided into four sections, the 20th century back to the 17th.  The older roses had finished, but the 20th century part of the garden was still full of colour, and not only from the roses:

Betty my neighbour, as elegant as ever. Drum Castle garden, Aberdeenshire, August 2012.

After our visit we walked up through the beautiful trees…

On the path between the gardens and the castle. Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, August 2012.

… to the castle, where we had a cup of tea in what used to be the kitchens.

On our way to the castle for a cuppa!  (As you do.)

There, thinking of the many servants that once kept the ovens stoked and the whole castle operating, Betty regaled me with stories of an Aberdonian lady she used to know.  This lady was hired in her teens by an aristocratic family as a servant, in the 1920s.  It came about because one of the family’s servants had left them when they were on their way through Aberdeen to stay in Royal Deeside.  She ended up staying with the family for something like 20 years, following them from London to their various Scottish estates throughout the year, and rising through the ranks to become a lady’s maid.  Betty told me some of her tales – including that the Royal Family tried to pinch her, but the housekeeper wouldn’t allow her to go, and told her she would be paid far less and have less time off.  Who knows if this is true, but it makes a good story!  She then married during the Second World War, a time of great change in society, when many people were no longer happy to be employed as servants because they had better options.

I enjoyed reading House-Bound by Winifred Peck, a novel set in Edinburgh during the Second World War, which tells the story of a genteel lady who must learn to get along without servants.  Persephone Books also publishes How to Run Your Home Without Help by Kay Smallshaw, which I haven’t read.  I do actually have wonderful help in the form of my husband Michael, and the Dafter when she is well.  What I need now is a slim volume entitled How to Keep Your Garden Tidy Without Actually Doing Anything!

I hope you’ve all had a very relaxing weekend.



  1. What a lovely place, thank you for sharing xxx

  2. I recently read the Kay Smallshaw book. I got it from the library. It has some good old fashioned tips in it, and is a wonderful way of gaining insight into the ways things used to be done, but isn’t of much use to us these days, unless you have a cast iron range, and a mangle!

    Your day at Drum looked perfect, so pretty and restful. I love to wander round castle gardens. 🙂 xx

  3. What a lovely garden to spend the day and so nice to have such nice company to share it with! The gate is wonderful and such a funny thing to remind you to keep it shut! Rabbits in the garden are not so welcome. I just saw a black rabbit today along my little country lane, no doubt a former pet escapee. Interesting about the servants and books – such a popular subject now with the series ‘Downton Abbey’ airing. I think that visiting public gardens is my favorite thing to do. So glad that you got the chance to enjoy a beautiful day. xx

  4. Beautiful gardens, roses and a cup of tea in a castle – sounds like an ideal day out to me! Lovely photos Christine, and you got a cracking day for your visit.

  5. What gorgeous gardens and your friend looks very elegant indeed. I love the gate…very inspirational. Have a lovely week xx

  6. Oh, how lovely. And what a blessing to share such with your neighbor and friend, Betty. I posted a link to this post on my blog’s FB page. I wanted to share it, since I get so much joy from your travel posts, Christine. You could write a guidebook; I should know: I’ve read enough of them in both armchair travels and preparing for an actual trip! Your photos are gorgeous and your anecdotes and historical notes are fascinating — not to mention your book suggestions!

  7. Dear all,
    I’m so glad you enjoyed sharing our walk around the gardens!

    Sister Julie – you’re very welcome.

    Tina – darn, I just got rid of my cast iron stove and my mangle!

    Karen – yes, the whole Upstairs/Downstairs dynamic continues to fascinate us. I wonder why?

    Lorna – if I’d been a bit more on the ball, I would have taken photos of the scones and the kitchen. I think you should definitely consider it for your Aberdeenshire volume!

    Heike – yes isn’t she inspirationally elegant? Thanks and I hope your week is going well too.

    Ellen – gosh, that’s very flattering! Thanks for posting a link here, and I’m glad you find the book suggestions interesting. The Persephone Books website is full of interesting information and also those gorgeous fabrics from days of yore. Enjoy your armchair travel, and planning for your Real Travels.

  8. what a lovely gate and i was wondering why they are called historic roses. maybe that is self-explanatory but i was curious as to the story behind the name. the rabbit story is quite funny … got a laugh from that. 🙂

    • Dear ajb,
      It’s a garden of historic roses because the garden traces the development of the rose from the 17th century to the present. (Well, it goes up through the end of the 20th century, divided into four sections – it will be interesting to see if they find a spot for 21st century roses somewhere!) The earliest roses were cousins of the wild rose, and only bloomed once. Over time, breeders were able to produce the roses that we know today, many of which bloom repeatedly over the season. If you’re really interested, this webpage from the Historic Roses Group is informative: Glad you got a laugh from the rabbit!

  9. Such a lovely garden! And I must look for that book you mentioned….

  10. Betty has a gorgeous sense of style. I loved the peak at the castle, of course, but I also really enjoyed seeing such a stylish lady. I have a thing for photographing stylish older women. Weird, I know, but they give me a jolt of joy.

    • Relyn I completely agree with the attraction (if I can put it that way) of elegant older women. It’s like a little flag from the other side of a bridge indicating, “The weather’s fine over here!”

  11. […] style, and run by a local family, so I’m happy to give them our business. It is very nearby Drum Castle, and its architcture echoes that of its much older […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: