The Cathedral was ringed along King Street with eighteen houses used by the Bishop and Clergy back through the centuries. The so called Bishop's House is the only surviving building left here. The house probably survived the Reformation's destruction because it was not the Bishop's House but was the residence of a precentor, the dignitory in charge of Cathedral music. The gabled side of the building is stepped - the number of steps denoted the wealth of the person who had the house built. This building is owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland they plan for the future to turn it into a museum.
We parked the car in Cooper Park as the streets around the Cathedral were busy with tour buses. The weather was not good to say the least - frequent rain showers seemed to follow us around. When visiting with children stops at the public toilets are usually called for but this one in the park held a small surprise! The cost for your comfort stop is twenty pence - not a King's ransom - but when the barrier didn't work and we had to crawl under to gain access this caused much laughter all round when we realised we could have got in for free! Cooper Park is a well established wooded area with fine lawns and a pretty boating lake - a good place for a stroll or to let the kids run off some steam. I will be back here sometime and hopefully the weather will be kinder to let us enjoy all the park has to offer.
The Biblical Garden is set in three acres of parkland and was the first one of this type of garden to be established in Scotland. There are one hundred and ten different plants, trees and shrubs planted around a central path shaped in the design of a Celtic Cross. All the plants have been choosen because the are mentioned in the Bible. Continuing on the Biblical theme there are many statues and sculptures depicting the parables of the Bible. While we were in the garden the summer torrent of rain decided to join us - there is a small shelter here but it had a leaky roof - the kids enjoyed this part of our visit dancing around trying to get as wet as possible while we tried avoiding the rain drops. The garden is open May to September 10.00 till 19.00 entrance is free.
There's lots of history around Elgin other than the museum and the Cathedral. One can't help but notice the prominent column on Ladyhill erected in 1839 in memory of George, the 5th Duke of Gordon, but down in the town, aided by the excellent town guide from the tourist centre, the first thing that hits you is that building and a few others beside it that were the recipients of the first restoration project of the Elgin Fund in 1975.
Other highlights are Dr. Gray's Hospital, built with money accrued from the East India Company, the Thunderton Hotel, all that remains of what was once a Royal residence, 42-46 High Street show examples of the arcaded buildings for which Elgin is famous while over in Cooper park you can see the wonderful manor called Grant Lodge.
The Biblical Garden in situated on King Street, Elgin, just around the corner from the entrance to the Cathedral. The garden is open from May to September, between the hours of 10am and 7pm, daily and admission is free.
Nestling in a quiet corner of Cooper Park, close to the centre of Elgin and adjacent to the Cathedral, lies a piece of ground, some three acres in size, upon which has been established a biblical garden.
The creation of the garden, the first of its kind in Scotland, is appropriate on this site as Moray has, for over fourteen centuries played an important role in the development and changing fortunes of the church.
Whilst using the Bible as its reference point and including all one hundred and ten plants mentioned therein, together with sculptures depicting the parables, it is clearly intended that this garden as well as being of considerable interest to those who study the scriptures, will also encourage anyone who enjoys gardens and gardening, to visit.
Made possible by and reliant upon the generosity and goodwill of the people of Moray and its many visitors, the Biblical Garden provides a haven from the city.
Some ninety trees and shrubs, donated by school groups throughout Moray, have been planted within the garden. A desert area has been created depicting Mount Sinai and the cave of the resurrection and a marsh area has been included within the garden.
An impressive central walkway, requiring over one thousand textured paving slabs, has been laid in the shape of a Celtic cross. The garden, planted around the central cross with every species of plant mentioned in the Bible, also includes a number of life-size sculptures depicting various parables including the Good Shepherd and the Prodigal Son.
The backdrop to the garden features a striking trellis, which mirrors the design of the nearby cathedral and is covered in yellow, white and red roses. The plants are all cross-referenced to a particular passage in the Bible and an indication of their use in biblical times
The opening shot here is of a round boat, used for inland fishing. Imagine, if you can, trying to paddle such a craft in a straight line.
The Elgin and Morayshire Scientific Society was the ancestor of the Moray Society. It was established on the 25th of October 1836 when the founder members, among whom were Rear-Admiral Duff, John Lawson the banker, Patrick Duff the town-clerk and Isaac Forsyth the bookseller met and decided to start a museum. Their first exhibits consisted of snakes, pickled in alcohol and a "sample of hemp". The town-council allowed them the use of a small room in the tollbooth, which, at that time was situated on the Plainstones, to the west of the present St. Giles. This proved to be too inconvenient and the committee met several times to discuss the matter. Isaac Forsyth, secretary and deaf as a post, could not follow any of the discussions so he went ahead and bought a plot of land from Seafield at the eastern part of the town and presented the committee with a fait accompli. Money was raised to build the existing building, designed by Thomas Mackenzie in the Italianate style. When the building was finished in 1842, it was not completely paid off and the Society members, all men, were forced to turn to the ladies of Elgin for financial help. The ladies organised and ran a very successful bazaar in September 1843. The town band, precariously perched on top of the flat roof of the office, provided music for the entertainment of such eminent guests as the son and daughter-in-law of the Duke of Wellington.
The debt was paid off and the museum has been maintained and operated ever since by the Elgin and Morayshire Literary and Scientific Association and its successors.
A couple of my favourite object are the coracle (small round boat used for inland fishing) and, in picture 2, the skull of a prehistoric dinosaur.
With a museum to look after, the Association needed both a curator and a keeper. The curator's position was voluntary but the keeper was a badly paid official who, however, was allowed the use of two small cells in the tower. It is recorded that the keeper was allowed to draw water from the well which was situated just outside the present front entrance to Safeways. The means for disposal of any waste water is not recorded. The President was John Lawson, who was in office from 1836 to his death in 1852. The Secretary was Patrick Duff and the Treasurer was James Johnston of Newmill. The Librarian was James Cunningham, writer, while the curator was John Martin, teacher at Anderson's Institute. The keeper or officer was William Ingram, by trade a turner and a stickler for propriety. When the great Thomas Huxley arrived at the museum just at closing time, Ingram refused him entry. Huxley protested saying "I am Professor Huxley from London and I have arrived
to examine the fossils". "Ah weel, replied Ingram, A'll let ye in, bit it will cost ye sixpence ". Next time Huxley came calling he wrote first to George Gordon, minister at Birnie, "You
see, I have a lively recollection of the stern janitor."
The museum, founded in 1836, is independent and is managed by the Moray Society.
The Museum houses many important collections of Natural History, Geology, Archaeology, Science, Art, Ethnography and Social History.
It is best known for pictish stones and unique local fossils but I would suggest there are many other items, including some from overseas, that vie with these for interest.
The wonderful carved ivory for one.
Where's the marbles?
The ones that you people nicked.
We didn't take any marbles from anyone.
Thus, in my ever so vivid imagination, I conjured up this ongoing inane conversation relating to the Elgin Marbles, which, to the uninformed, have absolutely nothing to do with the town Elgin except the name. So I thought. Oh-so-clever Ian would have fallen flat on his face had that conversation ensued because, lo and behold, they actually have a miniature of the said pieces from the Parthenon on display.
This museum is of the type that should be noted by towns everywhere. Its very size means that your time in there will usually be limited but they have packed (probably not the right word because they are well spaced) a wonderful and entertaining variety of items in here. If you're only mildly thinking of going I would recommend this as being the number one attraction in Elgin, even before the cathedral.
I first stuck my nose in merely because we had parked adjacent to the edifice and told the female attendant we would return after a cuppa next door. When we did return she was in absentia so we wandered through, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and had nearly finished when the lady arrived from upstairs and smilingly asked for our entry fee. However, she made a mistake by asking, "Are you of a certain age?". This, on her part, turned out to be an error of judgement as, seeking to take advantage I replied, "You noticed eh?"; whereupon I obtained a cheaper entry than I would have had she sought some official identification. (continued)
Since the company was established over 200 years ago, it has been owned and run by two families, the Johnstons and the Harrisons. The success the company has enjoyed has been founded on processing some of the worlds most luxurious fibres. As far back as 1851, the decision to pioneer the weaving of vicuna and cashmere began the company's commitment to luxury fibres. Many of the skills and much of the knowledge that was formed from this time, still contributes to the woven accessory products developed and marketed today.
Johnstons is vertical in its orientation. They buy their own raw materials from around the world using a level of expertise that has been passed been down through the generations. They spin their own yarn for both the weaving plant in Elgin and the knitting factory in Hawick, currently employing approximately 700 people. Some 500 are involved in the weaving and spinning plant in Elgin, with just over 200 based in Hawick. Johnstons has an enduring fascination with innovation in design and production and today, this, combined with the latest technology has ensured that Johnstons are unique as the only British mill to transform cashmere from raw fibre to finished garment.
And if you're wondering what this tree had to do with anything well, it's actually the same one I used to frame the building in the opening tip and it's in Johnston's backyard. Plus, it's such an attractive tree I thought you'd like it anyway.
Internally some richly decorated tombs and carved effigys remain in the vaulted choir chapels. Yet even more beautiful is the 15th century octagonal Chapter House, with its large traceried windows and it's magnificent vaulted ceiling that springs from a central clustered column. Apart from the monastic Chapter House at Incholm Abbey, this eight-sided spectacle at Elgin Cathedral is unique in Scotland.
Located on the edge of town, just a few miles inland from the Moray coast, and resting beside the River Lossie, these exquisite ruins are certainly a highlight of this area. Many thanks are due to the forward thinking and sheer hard work of that 19th century cobbler who began to re-discover the lost beauty of this cathedral.
The preceding came from Elginscotland.org
Effectively redundant from the time of the Reformation in 1560, this magnificent sandstone monument was little used during the next 100 years and was virtually abandoned thereafter.
Gradually parts of the structure collapsed as a result of unchecked decay, and it was not until the early 19th century that Elgin Cathedral received the respect it deserved as a fine piece of medieval architecture.
The first church was erected on this site during the early part of the 13th century although, possibly as a result of a fire, this was extensively re-built and enlarged towards the end of that century. Severely damaged by the 'Wolf of Badenoch' (see next tip) in 1390 when he burnt the cathedral, Elgin underwent a major period of reconstruction throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.
Now standing as one of the most glorious ruins in Scotland it is quite unbelievable to think that this vast church, so ornately decorated with such skill, was in use for a mere three centuries. Such an imposing entrance through the processional doorway, flanked by the massive west towers, still commands the visitor to enter and explore the remains of this most noble house of God.
Sadly, nothing substantial has survived of the nave apart from a pair of lancet windows that formerly lit one of the south aisle chapels.
The most complete section of the first church is the external wall of the south transept, which presents a busy picture of slender pointed windows, a curious oval window above a gabled doorway, and a higher level of round-headed windows. Unquestionably the most splendid remains of Elgin Cathedral are those at the east end of the church where decorative moulding, traceried windows, blind arcading, and a virtually complete clerestory can be seen in their full glory. Unusual buttress towers with embellished pinnacles contain the east gable arrangement of a large rose window set above two levels of lancets.
Johnson's. There's a name to remember if you're in Elgin and you want to lighten the load in your wallet.
Cashmere is the word. That lovely soft-to-the-touch fleece is flaunted here in many styles, along with a selection of other fibres, mainly of the wool ilk.
The place must do a roaring trade if the premises are any criteria to judge by. I found one item (on sale naturally) irresistable but, surprise, surprise, Rosemarie failed to make a purchase. I've made a note of that somewhere in my diary.
It reeks of class and money so, for those of you who savour that sort of thing, go and enjoy as I did. Though I have neither.
One of the rarest and most precious fibres in the world, cashmere is grown in the high altitudes of Mongolia and Xinjiang China, and then transformed into cloth, knitwear and garments in Scotland. In the late 19th century the cashmere industry grew in the Scottish borders, specialising in knitting and weaving techniques for underwear.
In the 1920s Coco Chanel discovered cashmere and elevated it from its humble origings as underwear, delivering it to the catwalks of the world. Since then designers have come to Scotland from Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo to commission their cashmere collections.
Z plan tower house with a major art collection, porcelain and some very nice woodland walks.
Brodie Castle is a typical fortified house built in the 16th Century and added to thereafter. The original house dating from 1567 was built by the 12th Brodie of Brodie.
What we see of Duffus Castle dates back to the 14th C., but the castle sits on the motte of a norman castle, which was of wooden construction.The main tower is an object lesson on why not to built a heavy structure on unstable foundations, as one side of the tower has broken away and is to be seen at he bottom of the motte.
The castle is on quite a large site and there are the remains of an ancient roadway and bridge.
The castle is in the care of Historic Scotland, and admission is free
For more than 500 years, Spynie Palace was the residence of the Bishops of Moray. It was situated on the shores of an inland loch near Elgin and comprised quite a settlement.
Today the loch has long been drained to a shdow of its former self, and all that is left is a mighty, fortified ruin some 5kms from the sea at Lossiemouth.
The earliest existing buildings at Spynie date from the 1300s but the history of the palace goes back to Bishop Brice of Douglas, who chose the church here as his cathedral church in 1207-8. His successor, Andrew, relocated the cathedral to Elgin, but he and later bishops continued to live at Spynie.
In the latter part of the 1600s, the great tower house, named David's Tower after the Bishop David Stewart was built. It was completed by his successor, William Tulloch and it is his arms which can be seen under the parapet on the south face. Later remodelled, this is one of the largest tower houses in Scotland, containing five floors and a vaulted basement.
Today David's Tower has been given a protective roofing and there is a walkway at the second floor level giving an excellent idea of the sheer size of the tower. The roof is also accessible to visitors, and the views across the generally low-lying surroundings are excellent.
Now in the care of Historic Scotland
Admission £2.50 Adults
Joint ticket with Elgin Cathedral - £3.80