“Any more juicy bits of history that you can tell me?” I asked, and Robert chuckled at this comment, “Well yes, there is also the Crawford Priory, built by the 21st Earl of Crawford in 1758, and remained in the family till 1871,” Robert informed me.
“Any chance we can go and have a look at that too?” I asked, “Sure, the priory is in ruins now, and after a few years of hard negotiations, I have now bought back the land that includes the priory and a few other buildings, including about 270 acres of land,” Robert said. “Great, I will definitely want to check it out in that case,” I replied happily.
“There has been a lot of trees and shrubs growing in and around the priory, so I have begun a project of carefully removing them, so as to stop any further damage to the building. Once that is done, I will get an assessment done by Historic Scotland, to see how we can preserve the building, to stop it from decaying any further,” Robert informed me.
“Wow, that sounds like a big and expensive job,” I responded, “It is, but I think it is worth the effort, there is also one other place that has a family connection, Haig Hall in Greater Manchester, the only place not in Scotland, but was built for the 7th Earl of Balcarres, and was completed in 1840,” Robert replied.
I went for a walk to explore more of the house and after getting lost a couple of times, I finally made it to the dining room in time for an early dinner, and afterwards I retired early as the jetlag was catching up to me.
The following morning, I managed not to get lost on my way to the dining room, and during breakfast, Robert asked me which I wanted to see first, Dunecht House or Crawford Priory. I asked what the distances are from Balcarres House, and I was told that Dunecht is a 152 kilometres 2 hour drive, while the Priory is just a 22 kilometre 30 minute drive, so I elected to see the Priory first.
As we neared the end of breakfast, Hunter entered the dining room, “Good morning Master Crawford,” he said to me, which caught me by surprise a little, and I squeaked out a good morning in reply. “My Lord, the appointment that you asked me to arrange has been confirmed for 2 pm this afternoon, at her Edinburgh residence,” hunter said to Robert before leaving.
“What was all of that about?” I asked, “Just a small surprise that I have lined up for you, and we must not be late for that, so we better get a move on, if we are to be showered and dressed for the afternoon appointment,” James said.
A bit over 40 minutes later, we turned off the main road, and passed through a stone and high hedge entrance, with a gatehouse on the left. “That on the right are the old stables building, which were leased out to a neighbouring farm until recently,” Robert said as we passed the building about 500 metres in from the front gate.
About 300 metres further on Robert slowed down as we passed under a large rock archway, and stopped soon after. “Welcome to Crawford Priory,” Robert said, as we climbed out of the vehicle.
“Wow, this is just as big as Balcarres, you don’t do things small in the home country do you,” I said and Robert laughed at the comment of mine.
We spent nearly two hours looking around the Priory, with trees and shrubs already cut away, that were growing inside the building, and some of the bigger branches that are close to the buildings outside walls. Back in the vehicle, we took a different route, soon we entered the town of Cupar, and we parked just outside a small tavern.
I followed Robert inside, we took a seat at a table near the side of the tavern, where it is a little quieter, and a man at the bar soon approached. “Sorry kid, you are too young to be in here, you will… oh Lord Crawford, this is an unexpected honour, is the lad with you?” the barman said, when he realised who I was with.
“Yes, Master Crawford is with me, he is my second cousin from Australia, visiting for a couple of weeks,” Robert replied, “Very good sir, what may I get for you both today?” the barman responded.
“A menu for an early light lunch and two orange juices please,” Robert replied, and the barman raced off to get the menus and two glasses of juice.
“So, what do you think of the Priory?” Robert asked me, “I think it is awesome, what is the name of the river that I could see close by?” I replied, “That is the River Eden, and it is the western boundary of the property, while the minor road we entered from is the northern boundary and the A914 road is the Eastern boundary, and an access road is the southern boundary. Apart from the gate house that we passed, there is one other large house on the property,” Robert replied.
“Are you going to tell me what this important appointment that you have arranged for this afternoon” I asked, “No, you will just have to wait and see,” Robert replied smiling. Once back at Balcarres, I was asked to shower and get dressed into one of my new suits, and to be ready to leave by 12.30 pm, so we are not late for the appointment.
This time, Hunter drove us in the Bentley, as we headed south-west. “Are we going to Edinburgh?” I asked, “Yes, and maybe later we can have a look around Edinburgh Castle,” Robert replied. When we arrived in the City of Edinburgh, I was looking at all of the old buildings, which were all amazing.
“This building we are passing now is the old original Scottish Parliament building, and the next to it, is the new buildings,” Robert said to me, as we slowly passed them, before taking a turn, and we came up to some enormous gates, guarded by the police.
“Lord Lindsay, the Earl of Crawford and Master Crawford, here for the 2 pm appointment,” Robert said to the police officer who approached, “Yes my Lord, you are expected, please pass through,” the officer replied, after looking closer at Robert.
“Hey wait a minute, isn’t this the Scottish Royal Palace, I forget the name of it just now?” I asked, and Robert chuckled, “Holyrood Palace, and yes you are right, it is Her Majesties Scottish residence when she is here for a week during the summer,” Robert replied.
“What? You mean we are here to meet with the Queen?” I asked in shock, “That is right, we have a special appearance before her at 2 pm,” Robert replied casually. “I presume by your easy manner, that this is not your first time to meet her, or be inside the palace,” I asked, “Correct,” Robert replied, as the vehicle parked.
“Just do as I do, and you will get through this just nicely, and remember to breath, as we don’t want you fainting in front of her Majesty,” Robert said to me, and I groaned, “None of that either,” Robert said as we climbed out of the vehicle and headed to the front door.
A few minutes later, we were directed down a hallway towards a closed door, and I was getting extremely nervous. “Breath normally and try and relax,” Robert whispered to me, as we followed the Palace staff member, and as we arrived at the door, he knocked before opening the door, took a step and stopped before bowing his bead.
“Lord Lindsay, and Master Crawford to see you Ma’am” we heard him say before he stepped to one side and Robert entered with me following, and I nearly collided into the back of him as he stopped and bowed his head, and taking a half step to one side I did the same, without looking.
To nervous to look in front of me, I followed Robert as he started to walk and stopped again, this time I did not stop in time and I went into the back of him. “Oops, sorry cousin Robert,” I said softly, “You must forgive my cousin Ma’am, he is new too Britain and I sprung this surprise on him without explaining the reason,” Robert said.
I once again stepped to one side of him and for the first time I looked directly into the smiling face of her Majesty, and I bowed my head, too nervous to say anything. “A shy young man too by the looks of it,” the Queen said, and I heard Robert chuckle softly.
“That he is Ma’am, maybe you should explain to him the reason for our visit today,” Robert replied. “Yes, please sit Lord Lindsay and Master Crawford,” the Queen said to us, which we did once the Queen had taken her seat.
“Young man, your cousin here, has made an application with the Privy Council, who are my advisors, to have the title of Baronet bestowed on you. I will let your cousin explain that to you later. It is my honour to agree to this application for the Baronet of Wigan to be bestowed on Master Crawford,” the Queen stated as she stood and we did the same.
“My full name is Edwin James Lindsay Crawford, “Ma’am,” I said, and a few minutes later the ceremony was all over, and I was now officially a Baronet. I thanked her Majesty for taking the time to meet me, and wished her an enjoyable and restful summer holiday.
“That is very kind of you, thankyou for that,” the Queen said, as James and then I took some steps back before bowing, and a few more steps back, till we were nearly at the door, and we exited the room. As we were guided back to the front door, I remained silent, still shocked at what had just happened.
“So how do you feel, Sir Edwin, Baronet of Wigan?” Robert asked me as we stepped outside, “What? Wait, did you say Sir Edwin?” I asked, “That is right, you are one rank above a Knight, and one rank below a Baron, so that is now your official title, which you don’t have to use if you don’t want too,” Robert replied.
“Crikey’s, I only came to have a look at where you live and work, and now I end up being a Baronet!” I stated, and Robert laughed, “You have always had aristocracy blood in you Cousin, now you have a title as well, even thou it is just a small one,” Robert said to me, as we walked towards the car, where hunter opened the doors for us.
“Congratulations Sir Edwin,” Hunter said to me smiling, “Oh boy, this is going to take some getting used too, and Hunter, please just call me Edwin or Master Crawford, I don’t know if I want to use that title just yet,” I replied, and Hunter smiled and nodded his head.
After a tour of Edinburgh Castle, we headed south of the city instead of heading northwards. “Where are we going now?” I asked, “One other place that has family links, the town of Crawford, and the old ruins of Crawford Castle, about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and still inside Scotland,” Robert replied.
“Wow, our family certainly had a lot of land and buildings,” I commented, “Yes, indeed they did, and I have purchased seventy eight acres of land that includes the old ruins, as well as a farm house, and a cottage, which have both been empty for a few decades, that I want to restore,” Robert informed me.
“Like you are doing with the Priory?” I asked, “Yes, and as a gift to you, with your new status, you now own that small Crawford Farm, as well as Crawford Priory,” Robert announced to me. “What?Really,” What am I going to do with all of this land and buildings when I live on the other side of the world,” I asked, “Come and visit a few times a year, that way I can get to see more of my Australian cousin,” Robert replied smiling.
We arrived back at Balcarres House just before dark, and I was tired from a very long day, and after a light dinner, I retired to my room for the night, had a quick shower and I was soon fast asleep in bed.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved July 2020