Thursday, 25 July 2013

Carmichael Estate

The name Carmichael is territorial and comes from Lanarkshire. An ancient hill fort or caer, close to a main route to the north was chosen by Queen Margaret in 1058 as the site of a church which she dedicated to St. Michael. The local people became known as Carmichael after surnames first became fashionable in the 13th Century.

Kirkhill remains at the heart of the Carmichael estate. This is where the former clan chiefs are buried, at the site of the original church. It belongs at once to a distant past and the future, for all the Carmichaels to follow.

The main entrance to the estate is flanked by two pairs of gate piers supporting eagles and pineapples that were installed in 1750. The eagles indicate Carmichael's status as the headquarters of a chief. Pineapples the sign of an agricultural improver. The lodge was built in 1890. Sadly the gates like so so many others, sacrificed needlessly to the war effort.

Wester Mains on the estate is where Richard Carmichael,  the 30th Chief  of the Clan lives. His family have owned the place since at least the 1370's; a tenure of 800 years, which makes they say, a contender for the oldest family farm in Scotland.

The stone recumbent horse has always adorned the Chief of Carmichael's residence. It was moved to Wester Mains when the mansion  was deroofed in 1952. The Chief explained that at the Battle of Bauge in 1421, Sir John Carmichael killed the Duke of Clarence, brother of Henry V of England, breaking his lance and unhorsing him; hence the family crest features a broken lance. The horse is one of the supporters of the family's arms. Its' recumbent attitude but with one foreleg out stretched and a saddle on its back is a visual reference to the clan's motto, 'Toujour prest'.

The doocot  c1750 is often considered one of the finest in Scotland.

The Carmichaels were created Baronets of Nova Scotia in 1628. The head of the family fought against Charles 1 at Marston Moor in 1644 and against the Marquis of Montrose at the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645. In 1701 the Carmichael's were created Earls of Hyndford, though the title became extinct in 1817. When the direct line died out, the lands and titles passed to the Ansthruthers, who changed their name to Ansthruther-Carmichael. What's in a name; everything.

The main commercial activities of the Estate are letting their charming and secluded cottages and lodges to holidaymakers and by farmed venison which they sell from  shop and from farmers markets. This wonderful meat was until recently, literally beyond price. The only (legal) way to obtain venison was by having your own deer park, or by knowing someone who did. Not any more!