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Fordell - 3. Ford Ch 3

“Wow, this looks amazing son,” Mum commented as I drove up to the front of the castle, where the Range Rover was already parked. Once out of the car I was given kisses on the cheek and hugs from Aunty Bea and Mum, before I showed them inside.

“The Earl will be staying in Number two suite on Christmas Eve, can you take Lady Beatrice’ luggage to bedroom one, and Lady Alexandria’s luggage to bedroom two please, all staff can have the top level bedrooms,” I instructed Charles, “Yes My Lord,” Charles replied.

I lead Mum and Aunty Bea to the Drawing room, where we sat down. “Now, I am guessing that you are both fairly worn out, so maybe you may want to take a nap before dinner, which will be in the formal dining room next door to hear. “I’m sorry Aunty Bea, there is no elevators in this castle, so you will have to trek up the stairs,” I said to my first official guests.

Over the next two days, Mum and Aunty Bea mainly stayed indoors, as it was cold outdoors at this time if the year, but that did not stop our visiting staff, who went off hiking around the estate each day. At breakfast on the day before Christmas Eve, I announced to Mum and Aunty Bea that we were taking a drive to Balcarres House, where Robert has invited us for Lunch.

We all rugged up warm, before climbing into the Range Rover, and we drove the 46 kilometres to Balcarres House, where James Christopher and Alice were lined up to greet us, and Robert was standing just inside the main door, keeping out of the wind.

“Balcarres staff, may I present Lady Beatrice Petworth, former nanny and first cousin of the current Earl of Crawford, and my mother Lady Alexandria Crawford,” I announced to the staff who bowed or curtsied before we all went inside to get out of the cold weather.

“Are you going to be recruiting my staff to assist with the Ball on New Years Eve?” I asked Robert as we started our first course, “Yes, if that is ok with you,” Robert replied, “Yes of course, they are struggling with being just guests here, and always asking if they can help Aled and Edna with anything,” I replied.

“Very good, if you can send the over on Boxing Day, with their luggage, and I will put them up in the staff quarters which I have plenty of, for the remainder of their stay,” Robert said to me.

After lunch while Robert went to do some work in his study, Mum and I followed Aunty Bea around the house. She explained some very interesting stories about the place and its history, which was all new information for me, but after an hour, Aunty Bea grew tired, so we took her to one of the guest suites, to allow here to rest.

Christmas was a wonderful informal event, with Alexander and Margaret’s children, running around all over the place exploring every room, and chasing after each other, and Aunty Bea looked to be very happy to be back in Scotland, and I had this strange feeling…

“You had a mixture of expressions on your face after lunch concluded, is everything ok?” Robert asked me, when we were alone for just a short period, “I can’t explain it, I just feel like I know something is going to happen, and I have a bad feeling that it is Aunty Bea,” I whispered to my cousin.

“Yes, I have noticed that she is very frail now, maybe the trip here wasn’t such a good idea,” Robert responded, “No, I think she is very happy to be back here, especially after the visit to Balcarres the other day, I just have this feeling…” I said to Robert.

“A feeling that she may pass away while here in Scotland?” Robert asked, “Yes, yes, I think that is it, I think maybe now she is back she is happy to let go,” I replied, “I think you may be right there, the question now is when?” Robert said, and I nodded in agreement. When exactly was the big question.

“By the way, have you heard of Inchkeith, Cramond, Inchmickery and Inchcolm? Robert asked me, they are the islands in the harbour are they not?” I replied, “Yes spot on, and all of them have an interesting history to them, three of them are privately owned, and one is a wildlife reserve.

I have submitted a proposal to the Scottish Parliament, asking permission for the islands to be put under the ownership of the Baron of Fordell, with plans to restore a lot of the original buildings on the islands,” “Ok, I wish you had spoken to me first.

I am planning to spend six months of the year here and six months in Tasmania,” I responded, “That is ok, you can still do that when you are here during the northern summer, and I will be helping to fund the restoration projects,” Robert announced.

Straight after Christmas, preparations were in full swing for the ball, which has two-hundred people that have replied that they will be attending, all who were either aristocracy, politicians, lairds and important business people of Scotland.

As the ball fast approached, Aunty Bea and Mum moved over to Balcarres House, so Aunty Bea could spend more time there, which I was pleased to see. While they were away I was making preparations for flying back to Australia, but via Zurich, as I had to clean up the apartment and pack up everything that I needed to ship back to Tasmania.

The ball at Balcarres house was very successful, I was introduced to a heck of alot of people, and we stayed overnight there, since it was well after midnight before the ball began to slowly end. While eating an early breakfast, one of Robert’s staff came into the dining room and whispered something into his ear.

“Have you called the authorities?” Robert asked, “Yes sir, they are on their way, we were advised not to touch anything,” the staff member replied, as Robert faced mum and me, as we sat next to each other. “I am sorry to announce that Beatrice passed away in her sleep last night,” Robert announced.

Mum gave a little cough and began sobbing quietly, and I put my arm around Mum to comfort her, and I suggested that we retreat to the small lounge, which mum agreed to with a nod of her head, and I continued to hug her as we walked the short distance to the lounge room.

Fifteen minutes later, Robert entered the room, the police have arrived and have questioned me and the staff, and as you know they will have great difficulty in interviewing everyone that was here last night,” Robert said to me, and I chuckled.

“Do they need to speak to Mum and me?” I asked, “I think they will be happy to chat to you both just briefly, but I have already told them of our discussion that we had the other day when Beatrice visited Balcarres the first time, plus I have been told that she has a slight smile on her face, which ties in with what we were discussing.

The Coroner has arrived, doing a preliminary inspection of the body, before the contractors take her away to the funeral home. Once they have taken her away, I will go and start making the arrangements,” Robert said to us, before leaving the room, closing the door behind him.

Three days later, the family prepared for the funeral service of Aunty Bea, which would take place at the Crawford Priory Chapel, with the minister from Kilconquhar asked to officiate the service. Bea will be buried directly behind the chapel of Balcarres, which has no roof.

The day before the service, I had arranged for fifty chairs to be set up in the chapel, and a table at the front for the chapel as the temporary alter for the service. With the service set for 11 am, I arrived at the Priory at 8 am, as Robert had arranged for flowers to be delivered at 9.30 am. As I walked around the chapel to make sure that everything was in order, my mobile rang and it was Robert.

“Good morning cousin,” I said, “Good morning, you left Balcarres very early this morning,” Robert replied, “Yes, I am at the Priory, just double checking that everything is in order for the service, is there any problems?” I asked, “Just one slight hitch, Reverend Ian Marchman called last night and has asked if there is space set a side for the choir that will be attending?” Robert asked me.

“No, I had no idea that there would be one,” I replied, “I have known Reverend Marchman for many years, and when I asked him to officiate the service, I had no idea that he would be arranging for the choir from his parish in nearby Kilconquhar, to be part of the service. I have heard this choir, they are very good.

This is the church that our family had attended for many generations, and where all of us have been baptised, and even buried there, even thou there is a much smaller church located a lot closer to Balcarres.

The original alter of the Balcarres chapel still exists, and is used as a side table in the main hall at Balcarres, as do some of the original pews, which have been in safe storage.

I have arranged for a local tradesman to have them all transported to the Priory, and it will arrive at about and hour from now, Robert announced. “Wow that is excellent news. Will they be remaining at the Priory?” I asked, “Yes, since the chapel at Balcarres in now just an outer shell, I think that it is very appropriate that they remain there.

I suggest that you use the pews to seat the choir, there are a total of 16 choir members in total and each pew can seat four people, just have two pews per row with a centre aisle, and have four pews in each transept, while family members can sit in the other transept.” Robert suggested to me.

“Thankyou for all of that, I will get it organised,” I replied, pleased that some original pews and alter would be in place for the funeral. When a large lorry as they call them in the UK turned up at the front of the Priory, I asked the driver to drive the lorry around to the back, which is where the Chapel is located.

With three other strong men, they made light work of offloading the heavy pews and the alter, and I directed them into the chapel, and showed them where to place the pews in the left and right transept of the chapel. Once the pews were in place, I thanked the workers, and after they had left, I stood at the cross of the chapel, with the navels on each side and the Chancel in front of me, with its new Alter and the stone carving in the back wall.

I was very happy that the chapel would be used to celebrate the life and ending of the family’s favourite aunt. In the style of a college chapel, I had laid out the chairs to be facing inwards, with two rows along side, and another row on each side in the nave of the chapel, leaving a wide central aisle.

When four women arrived, I directed them to the chapel, and they soon were busy filling large silver vases and urns full of beautiful white flowers, mostly white roses and arum lilies. Once they had done that, they went back to their vehicles can returned with large silver candlesticks, with tall candles, as well as a alter cloth and finally a large bible.

After thanking the women for all of their wonderful work, I looked around the chapel once more, and it now felt so different, and I felt a chill go down my spine, which I was not sure how to react too. Curious about the huge bible, I walked up to the alter and opened up the cover.

“The Family Bible, of the 21st Earl of Crawford. Crawford Priory – 1760.” I was stunned at what I had just read, this was the first bible in use when the family built this place in 1758. Below the inscription, was two signatures – Lindsay of Crawford, 28th of January 1760 & the second signature was quite unexpected – George Augustus, King George the 2nd of Great Britain.”

I stared at this for a few moments, hardly believing that this bible is over 240 years old and had the signature of the current monarch of the time. Carefully closing the bible, I took a side step and felt a slight wobble in the stone floor, I stopped and took a step back and squatted down to take a closer look.

I wiped my hand over the stone, and felt a little indentation, so I leaned down and blew, to remove any dust, and soon found myself looking at a small metal slot. When I followed the edge of the stone, I found three more slots, one in each corner. Sitting down on the floor, I pulled out my phone and called Robert.

“Hello cousin, is there any problems?” Robert said, and it sounded like he was travelling in a vehicle. “No, just have a few questions, firstly the ladies who did the flowers brought a candle stick with candles, and also a family bible, that has the inscription of the Earl of Crawford at the time, as well as the ruling King of Great Britain, George the 2nd,” I stated.

“Yes, that is correct, it has been kept in the family library here at Balcarres ever since the priory was handed over to another branch of the family, I thought it would be an ideal time to put it into use again, back in its proper home. It is quite valuable, not because of its age, but because it is a Gutenberg Bible, printed in 1455,” Robert responded.

“Wow, that is incredible, a very valuable piece of family history. The other thing I wanted to ask you is that after looking at the bible, I felt a stone move under my foot, and after some investigation, I have found four slots, one in each corner of the stone, located directly behind the altar,” I asked.

“So you have found it have you, I was not sure if it still existed or not. You have found the entrance to the family crypt, but I do not think it was ever used. I think it was forgotten about, and rumours of its existence were passed down to each new generation, but no one ever bothered to check to see if it really existed,” Robert replied.

“I see, well when the funeral is over, I would like to explore this crypt to see what is inside,” I said. “That is fine with me, although you are the legal owner of the priory now, so it is up to you, I would like to be there when the stone is lifted, as I would also like to see inside,” Robert said to me.

Shortly after Robert arrived, with Mum along side him, the Reverend Marchman arrived, and Robert introduced him to me and Mum, before I gave them a tour of the ground level of the Priory. “You have done a magnificent job of restoring this beautiful building Lord Edwin, I am sure that your mother is very proud of you,” the Reverend said to me, as we exited the great hall, and headed towards the main entrance to the chapel.

“Your will see that there are temporary seats in the nave of the chapel, but my predecessors have kept some of the pews and the main alter from the former chapel of Balcarres Chapel, which have been in storage until today, and have been permanently moved into this chapel, Robert said to the minister.

I opened the two large wooden doors to reveal the inside of the chapel. “Interesting layout,” Robert commented, and I saw mum smile, “I am guessing that my son did it this way, because he attended a private school in Tasmania, and the chapel seating is set out this same way,” Mum said.

“That would explain it, and I don’t mind this kind of layout, it is a lot more popular than you think,” the minister commented, as we walked down the central aisle of the nave, towards the alter. I stopped at the crossover, as did Robert and Mum, while the minister continued to the alter.

“They fit in perfectly I see,” Robert said to me, referring to the pews .“Yes, I am pleased about that too,” I replied.

Copyright © 2020 quokka; All Rights Reserved.
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Great chapter. Christmas and New Year were great times for Edwin and family. Unfortunately his Aunt passed away after the new year celebrations, but she seemed happy to be back in Scotland.

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I am glad that the holidays of Christmas and New Years were very festive and that Edwin was able to spend them with his family. I’m glad that Aunt Bea was able to return to Scotland and spend her final days surrounded by her family who loved her without fail, she passed quietly during the night after the New Years celebration at Balcarres where she had numerous fond memories of the time she spent there in her younger years. I’m sure that her reunion with the current Earl of Crawford was another fond memory for her as she hadn’t seen him in over fifteen years. Such a fantastic chapter to read as well as being so well written. I’m going to be waiting for the next chapter in hopes of getting a glimpse of the family crypt below the Priory.

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I find it interesting that several words in this chapter are spelled in a somewhat different fashion than I would expect: the holy table at the front of a church spelled as 'alter' rather than 'altar', and the word I would expect to be spelled as 'though', rather than 'thou' as it is here. I am NOT saying these are errors, perhaps just a local way of spelling words differently from what I would expect.

I will be interested in the contents of the family crypt, located beneath the floor.


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17 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

I find it interesting that several words in this chapter are spelled in a somewhat different fashion than I would expect: the holy table at the front of a church spelled as 'alter' rather than 'altar', and the word I would expect to be spelled as 'though', rather than 'thou' as it is here. I am NOT saying these are errors, perhaps just a local way of spelling words differently from what I would expect.

I will be interested in the contents of the family crypt, located beneath the floor.


Fixed one spelling error thanks.


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