"Hells Bells", wrote Sir Charles Ross from
The Earldom of Ross had played an important role in Scottish history. Sir Charles was the last of the Rosses of Balnagown. He had fallen out with many people in the 1930s, particularly with the British Government. His invention the 'Ross Rifle' had been an enormous success in the Boer War, but a disaster in the mud of the Great War and the small issue of tax had still not been dealt with. As a result he was in self imposed exile in the
He could not return to his
The property was bought by Mohamed Al-Fayed in 1972. He has spent some 20 million pounds on the castle which is now beautifully maintained both outside and in. Some members of the clan are upset that he has incorrectly displayed the crest of the clan chief on the gates. Technically of course they are right, but I would suggest that the renaissance of the castle is a fair quid pro quo.
So it was Mohammed Al-Fayed whom I asked for permission to take Judy Neville, nee Ross, from
I am often asked why we let so many of our castles crumble away unprotected. The answer is that there are, or were, about 3000 castles in Scotland - more per head of the population than anywhere else in the world - and the money to stabilise, far less restore them all, just isn't there. Happily there are a few people like Mohammed Al-Fayed, who are prepared to invest heavily for no financial gain.
I started with a quote from Sir Charles. I end with another, this to a farm manager: "I employ Miss Chadwick as my financial secretary. You are going into her office and fuddling her brain up with manure for Garty Farm. I telephone her from