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Glenardoch House, Doune
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Image by Robert Cutts (pandrcutts)
Doune lies about 10 km northwest of Stirling. Along with the nearby settlements of Deanston, Buchany, Drumvaich, and Delvorich, it’s part of the parish of Kilmadock. In 1611 the town became a burgh of barony and, in 1890, it was created a police burgh. Until 1975 it was within the County of Perth but, in that year, its town council was abolished and administration was transferred to Central Regional Council and Stirling District Council. In 1996 these entities were abolished and governance of the area became the responsibility of the single council area of Stirling.

The town was once known for the manufacture of pistols and sporrans and, during the 19th century, it had a thriving cotton industry. But nowadays, helped by the presence of a well-preserved castle, it’s principal source of income is tourism.

Glenardoch House itself is in Castle Road, close to the Castle. It is now a thriving B&B. A review in trip advisor, in May 2012, gave it the glowing commendation: "A jewel in the crown, near Doune Castle". And, on the same page, there were three other equally impressive reviews! One of its chief claims to fame is as the one-time home of Alexander Ferguson, the inventor of Edinburgh Rock.

The following paragraph is taken from records kept by the Information and Heritage Centre, a shop premises in Main Street, Doune, run by the The Kilmadock Development Trust Limited:

"Alexander Ferguson, the founder of the well-known confectionery business in Edinburgh and originator of the famous sweet ‘Edinburgh Rock’, was born in Doune, in a little house in what is now Graham Street. His father was a joiner, but his flair was for cookery more than carpentry and he often made himself unpopular at home with his experiments in toffee making. He decided that Doune gave him no promise in his ambitions and so he left the village, on foot, to seek his fortune. He seems to have been uncertain where he was going when he left his home, for the story goes that when he was already on his way, he stopped to ‘toss up’ whether to make for Edinburgh or Glasgow. Glasgow won and there he went to spend some time in learning the art of confectionery. He did not get the scope he needed, however, so he made for Edinburgh to start up a business on his own. His invention of the ‘rock’ proved a small goldmine and he prospered so well that he came back to his native village to buy considerable property before finally retiring. He bought most of the street in which he had been born, that ‘Sweetie Lane’ which has been noted and which is now Graham Street. He also bought ‘Doune Cottage’, later Glenardoch (q.v.). Alexander Ferguson, Sweetie Sandy, died at Glenardoch in 1871 at the age of 73 years."

Ferguson had a flair for public relations. At one point he advertised himself as a confectioner to the Queen. You can see more about that here. You can see a picture of his Edinburgh shop here. It looks from that as if his claim to be confectioner to Queen Victoria was true. If you would like to know how to make Edinburgh Rock then Peter Hoggan can tell you.

In 1821 Alexander Ferguson married one Isabella Collie. They had at least two children: Alexander and James. Thirty years later, a census return indicates that they were living together at 3 Wharton Place, Edinburgh, and that he was a confectioner employing 13 men. But, five years after that, probably because Isabella had died, Alexander married Elizabeth Meikle Glen of Edinburgh. The 1861 census shows that Alexander and Eliza (as she had by then become) were still resident in Edinburgh, but that Alexander had retired. But he had purchased the house then known as Doune Cottage in the mid 1850s and, by the early 1860s, had enlarged and refurbished it and renamed it Glenardoch House. He and Eliza would probably have set up home there in the mid 1860s. But his return to the town of his birth was not to be a long one. He died in 1871 leaving Eliza a widow for the second time in her life.

Four years later Eliza married William Congalton, RNR, a 48-year-old bachelor, marine examiner and one-time sea captain. For some ten years he had been the master of the Robert Lowe, one of William Schaw Lindsay’s fleet of some 20 vessels. In May 1855, during the Crimea War, the ship had carried Florence Nightingale across the Black Sea from Scutari to Balaclava. And, in 1862, she carried my great grandfather, Henry Taylor, from London to Victoria, British Columbia. On both of these voyages, and many others, her master was William Congalton.

William Congalton died in 1890 leaving poor Eliza a widow for the third time. So far as is known Eliza had no children. One result of this was that, when she died in 1894, the residue of her estate was declared ulimus hœres. That’s to say that no heir had been desiginated so what was left over after expenses had been paid was given over to the crown. What happened to Glenardoch House between Eliza’s death and it’s present status as a B&B is unknown.

After the retirement of Alexander Ferguson senior, his two sons, Alexander and James Gall Ferguson took over the business. Unfortunately they were not so successful as their father and the business declined. The Edinburgh Gazette of 21 March, 1902, reported that the estates of the company had been sequestrated and that James had been "finally discharged of all debts contracted by him fore which he was liable as a partner of said Firm or Company of Alexander Ferguson, in terms of the Statutes."

The Ulster poet. William McComb (1793-1873) wrote a poem about the house while it was still known as Doune Cottage. Here it is:

    It was an Autumn day at noon,
    When first I gazed on bonnie Doune;
    Crossing the bridge, where flows beneath
    The waters of the lovely Teith,
    A garden burst upon mine eye,
    Fragrant and fair as Araby.
    Roses of many a tribe were there,
    As if at the owner’s taste and care
    Were given to cultivate the flower
    That rings a supremely in Flora’s bower.
    A jet of water, sportive playing,
    Its rainbow hues were there displaying;
    Now bright in silvery spray ascending:
    And e’en the sculptor’s art was found
    Adorning that enchanted ground.
    Milton, with eye we upraised to Heaven
    The chisel faithfully have given,
    It if from such a scene of bliss,
    The Bard had visioned Paradise!
    And Scot, with antiquated eye,
    Sat penning border Minstrelsey;
    Or tales of Dounes old castle telling,
    Where Ardoch and the Teith are swelling.
    Where seated in the rustic bower,
    Gazing without on many a flower,
    Methought, if Peace sought place of West,
    Here she might safely build her nest.
    Adorned with many a climbing rose,
    Doune Cottage lay, in calm repose;
    Within its peaceful door I found,
    I stood on hospitable ground: it
    Enough to say, that maiden there
    Spread plenteously her Scottish fare;
    A feast by intellect refined –
    A banquet to the taste and mind.
    I’ve travelled far o’er Scotia’s land,
    Welcomed by many a heart and hand;
    Rambled o’er mountains and o’er moors,
    Found open hearts and open doors;
    But never met a warmer boon
    Than Jeanie gave in Cot of Doune.

The poem, and many others, can be read on-line in The Poetical Works of William M’Comb. The bridge over River Teith is 50 yards or so further along Castle Road from the house. In its upper reaches the river is known as Ardoch Burn and, at one point, flows through Kilbryde Glen. Perhaps Ferguson took a bit of each name and came up with Glenardoch for the name of his house.

There is a strange appendage to the story. Congalton is not a common name – even in Scotland. Indeed, until the 20th century, it was mainly confined to the counties of Berwick and East Lothian where there was a family known as Congalton of that Ilk. They were landed gentry based in Haddington, the county town of East Lothian. Indeed there a William Congalton of that Ilk around in the 18th Century – but Captain William Congalton was not ‘of that Ilk’! He was born in a humble cottage in Dirleton a coastal village just north of Haddington. He was the nephew of Samuel Congalton, a fairly well-known sea captain, at least in his day. You can read about Samuel in One from the Ranks by Rev Alexander Wallace. Anyway, to return to the point, in spite of the fact that Congalton was not a common name, a completely unrelated William Congalton had been born in 1807 in Doune, the town where his mariner namesake spent his last days. William Congalton of Doune became a master mason and settled in nearby Dunblane.

Robert Cutts, June 2012

This photo was originally posted in Flickr’s Guess Where UK Group. At that stage, none of the above text was present but this clue was provided: the begetter of a capital rock once lived here. As can be seen from the comments, the clue didn’t help much! Pandrcutts is my Flickr username.

LIFE Magazine Aug 01, 1955 – Hình ảnh thế giới trong tuần – SAIGON HOTEL BUSTS OUT WITH RIOTERS
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Image by manhhai…

Surging through the Galliéni Hotel in Saigon, rioters ripped apart the furniture, leaned from the windows to wave their political banners. The demonstration, by 100,000 Vietnamese, was permited by the government and supported Premier Diem’s view that the coming elections, designed to unite North and South Vietnam, would evoke Communist trickery. But the crowd got out of hand and quickly did million damage. The rioters spared the belongings of Mrs. Perle Mesta, in Saigon on a tour, when they learned she was an American.