Scottish Records Association 

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Summer Visits 2017

This year's Summer Visits gives SRA members and their guests the opportunity to visit Inveraray Castle Archives, The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland Library and Archive and The Scottish Life Archive.

While the first of the visits has already taken place, the second of the Summer Visits, which will focus on two Edinburgh based repositories (The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland Library and Archive and The Scottish Life Archive) will take place on Monday, 11 September 2017. Booking for this event is now closed.

SRA Summer Visit to Inveraray, Friday 23 June 2017

Our small but enthusiastic group of SRA members and guests thoroughly enjoyed a trip to Inveraray Castle, family seat of the Dukes of Argyll, on 23 June. Arriving first at the Argyll Estates Archives, we received a cup of tea and a warm welcome from the Archivist, Alison Diamond, and her volunteer, Duncan Beaton.  

With kind permission by the Duke of Argyll

We then walked the short distance to the Castle for lunch in the Tea Room and a tour of the Private Apartments courtesy of Elspeth Guyan, Castle Guide. Among the various tapestries and family portraits hanging in the well-appointed rooms, everyone admired a full-length portrait of society beauty Elizabeth Gunning, who married John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll in 1759. The Private Apartments also contain Elizabeth’s richly furnished bed, which stands so tall that it could only be accommodated in its present space by removing a decorative vase from the top of its canopy (the vase is now displayed elsewhere in the Apartments).

Alison then became our guide for a tour of the public areas of the Castle, where the artefacts on display include the dress worn by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, at her wedding to the 9th Duke of Argyll in 1871, and a charming pair of the Princess’s baby shoes. The group was particularly taken with the Castle’s ornate dining room in which a special Christmas episode of the television series Downton Abbey was filmed in 2012.

Returning to the Archives, we ended our afternoon with a fascinating tour of the reading room and two storerooms. The family and estate papers of the Campbells, Dukes of Argyll date back to the 1300s and we were privileged to see some of the treasures of this vast collection, including the Rental of the Bishopric of Argyll dating from 1624, and a most interesting volume of ‘Letters and Instructions for building Inverara Castle for His Grace the Duke of Argyll in Argyllshire’, drawn up in the mid-1740s. The group also admired a selection of cartoons drawn by Lord Archie Campbell, and puzzled over the handling challenge posed by a vast bound volume of illuminated addresses to Lord Lorne (the future 9th Duke of Argyll) and Princess Louise on the occasion of their marriage.

The Scottish Records Association would like to thank Alison Diamond, Duncan Beaton and Elspeth Guyan for making our visit possible and for giving so generously of their time and expertise.