Morvern Lines – 21.1.20

Glencripesdale House in all its splendour. Photograph supplied by Iain Thornber.

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Thumbing through the property for sale pages of the glossies is as popular now as it has always been. Clever images and virtual flights by drones catch the eye and lure and entertain the armchair voyeurs who enjoy cooing and cawing over their neighbours furnishings and kitchens, leaving the more serious to hurry along to the estate agents’ offices to arrange an actual inspection.

But how was it done in the days before high quality colour printing, and when viewing was more difficult? The answer was the power and style of the written word conjuring up a far greater and exciting picture.

In our digital day and age, of iPhones and tablets, of Facebook and text messages – it has become all too easy to forget how important the written word is. So why does it matter? It’s only, as Shakespeare would say, “Words, words, words.”

The thing is that words and phrases don’t just convey meaning neutrally, they also convey emotions, values and shared culture, and influencing the way language is used can also influence the way people think and feel. The negative side of this was chillingly illustrated by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, written when he was living on Jura. But manipulating language doesn’t have to be the preserve of Big Brother. The right words can make people laugh or cry or buy products or services. That’s true of the spoken word, but even more of the written word, which doesn’t come and go before we notice. Some people assume that new technology is making the written word obsolete, but in reality we’re just as reliant on it as ever, if not more so. After all, today the written word can be seen all around the world within minutes of being created. In business, the way you phrase your writing can make the difference between success or failure.

One of the best examples is a rare set of particulars of historical interest put together in 1904 by McClure, Naismith, Brodie & Co, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, for two brothers, Thomas Henry and Horace Newton who owned Glencripesdale Estate on the south shore of Loch Sunart in Morvern. It comprises 14 pages of cleverly placed bold text, capitals, italics and horizontal lines, two hazy photographs and a map. All in pure monotone but a masterpiece of its kind and worthy of reproducing in full as the estate has long since been broken up, the main house demolished, the site grassed-over and much of the main glen and large bits of Laudale covered in Sitka spruce.

‘Western Highlands of Scotland; particulars and conditions of the grand freehold sporting estate of Glencripesdale with Laudale, Kinloch-Teacuis, Rahoy and the Island of Carna, in the district of Morven (sic) County of Argyll. extending over twenty-six thousand acres, including a fine deer forest and grouse moor stretching for about twenty miles along the shores of Lochs Sunart and Teacuis, with well-arranged and commodious shooting lodge, factor’s house [Laudale], small shooting box [Rahoy], kennels, several cottages and farm buildings, which will be sold by auction by Messrs Edwin Fox and Bousfield at the mart, Tokenhouse Yard, in the City of London, on Wednesday, the 26th day of October, 1904. Sale commencing at two o’clock precisely.

‘The whole of the growing timber, timberlike and other trees, plantations and underwood will be included in the sale. The iron fencing on the estate and all landlord’s fixtures, grates, blinds and cornice poles, will be included in the sale. The purchaser will be bound to take over at a valuation the sheep and farm stocks and farm implements, &c, cut and dressed trees for fencing, and also the furniture and plenishings in Glencripesdale House and other houses occupied by the vendors. Mr John A Fletcher [factor], Laudale, will arrange for the boundaries being pointed out to intending purchasers on receiving at least one day’s previous notice.

‘Particulars of the freehold Estate of Glencripesdale, comprising forty-one square miles forms one of the grandest and most important sporting domains in the world renowned West Highlands of Scotland. It was chosen by its present owners (and their deceased brother) upwards of 30 years ago, owning to its numerous very charming characteristics and its remoteness from places usually resorted to by pleasure seekers and tourists. The march of events during the last 30 years has rendered the property much more accessible than formerly, but its unique privacy, which still remains, is one of its greatest attractions.

‘When the present owners originally purchased Glencripesdale, it included Kinloch-Teacuis and Rahoy only – the beautiful glen, which being the largest watershed on the property, has now lent its name to the whole – and it was only after having realised the many delights incidental to the ownership of the estate, that they subsequently availed themselves of opportunities of adding to it the adjoining properties respectively known as Laudale, Liddesdale, and the Island of Carna, forming together a truly charming and delightful tract of territory, standing almost without a rival in the British Isles.

‘The entire extent of the property is over 26,000 acres of deer forest and grouse moor, with mountains, hanging woods, parks and pasturage for cattle and sheep. There is excellent fishing in the lochs and unequalled facilities for yachting. The property is bounded on the south, west and north by the beautiful Lochs Sunart and Teacuis, rising from the shore to an altitude of 1,800 feet, and clothed to the water’s edge at many points by well-grown woods and copses – the home of red deer – intersected by lovely glens with their beauteous burns and cascades. There is a most comfortable, well-planned and spacious residence, suitable for the occupation of a large family, and taken has a whole the property presents to the man of means, with sporting proclivities, a charming and delightful possession.

‘Glencripesdale House is commodious, and conveniently arranged for the comfort and accommodation of a large family and party of guests. The site was most judiciously chosen, and is a plateau of considerable size 112 feet above the loch and well sheltered on all sides. It is approached from the shore by a well-formed wide gravel path about some six hundred yards in length, of easy gradient, through luxuriant plantations and natural woods; and from the yacht moorings by a broad and capitally engineered drive through woods, a cross the burn by an ornamental bridge. The views from this plateau are entrancingly beautiful – the woods around with vistas through the dense foliage to the loch below, and the serried outline of the far-away mountains, varying under different lights and shades, for a striking contrast to the heather-covered slopes between the house and the rough rugged grey of the rocky hillsides beyond.

To be continued.