Strachur House, originally called Strachur Park, was built around the 1780s by General John Campbell, 17th of Strachur. He was born in 1727 and his military career began in 1745 when he became a lieutenant in the militia. He was Commander-in Chief in North America when he retired in 1787. The money for building Strachur House is thought to have come from the considerable prize money from the capture of Havana from the Spanish in 1762. John died in 1806 leaving a widow, Helen, daughter of a merchant of Glasgow and Grenada. She was 40 years his junior.
As John had no legitimate children the house and estate passed to his sister Janet, but Helen had the use of the house until her death in 1838, after which it was rented out. The first tenant was Sir John Archibald Murray, the Lord Advocate. He died in 1859, his wife Mary in 1861 at the age of 93. Mary was an accomplished musician and a friend of Jane Stirling who was a pupil of Frederic Chopin. Thanks to this connection Chopin stayed at Strachur House for a week in 1848.
From at least 1871, when he retired as vicar of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, until his death at Strachur House in 1884 the tenant was Rev John Seaton Karr. He was the owner of Glenfinnart Estate, through his wife, and also of the family estate in the Borders. That he should want to rent Strachur House may be explained by his yacht, which was anchored off Strachur when he died.
In 1897 the house and estate were sold to Roger Herbert Plowden. The History Society were fortunate to get access to scrap books made by a member of the family giving much interesting detail of their summer activities in Strachur. In 1918 the estate was sold again, this time to Lady George Campbell, widow of Lord George Granville Campbell, 4th son of the 8th Duke of Argyll. After her death in 1947 her daughter Joan lived there until 1957 when the house was sold to Sir Fitzroy Maclean and the estate sold off in different lots. Sir Fitzroy lived there till his death in 1996, his wife Veronica till hers in 2005. It is now the home of their son, Sir Charles Maclean.
Back view of Strachur HouseFete at Strachur HouseStrachur House with Standing Stone
The Plowden Family
Minnie Plowden kept an album detailing events and visitors to Strachur Park.
Roger Plowden with his son HumphreyRecords from Fergusson the builders tell us about the alterations made by the Plowdens and it’s thought that some of them would benefit Minnie. Unfortunately, she did not keep good health and had to use a stick or wheelchair at times. Records show an ‘ …old dark room..’ being replaced by ‘… a new one…’, and a lift was installed at the back of the house. A balcony topped by a conservatory, was constructed on the first floor.Very sadly Minnie died in 1899 giving birth to their second son Piers. The selection of photos on this page give us a very interesting glimpse into the interior of Strachur Park at this time.
Minnie taking photo
This was constructed to help Minnie Plowden – it seemed she could walk up the ramp but was unable to climb stairs. The boy is Humphrey – frequently affectionally called Bims in the album. He was Roger and Minnie Plowden’s son.
The Chicken Walk
A typical example of a page in Minnie’s Album
Amateur Dramatics – Roger Plowden, Mr Dudley Leigh (kneeling) Edith Henniker, Helen Plowden, Mrs Dudley Leigh Roger married Helen Haseltine who had been a friend of Minnie and had visited Strachur Park often. They went on to have 4 children Roger Stanley in 1902, Edwin Noel – 1907, Helen Penelope – 1909 and Francis Herbert – 1914. Mrs Helen Plowden continued to collect material about life in Strachur Park. She was Commandant of the Red Cross for Strachur, Strathlachlan and Glendaruel and was instrumental in setting up Letters Lodge Convalescent Hospital in 1915. She organised the collection of Sphagnum Moss used for war dressings.Mrs Plowden’s basket weaving classHelen Plowden also took a great interest in education and instigated a knitting class as well as a basket weaving class. Mrs Plowden’s Knitting classL-RKatie MacVean, ?Luke, Katie Scott, Nana McNicol, Rubina McNicol, Abigail ScottBessie and Vinnie Scott, Mary Clark, ?Luke, Nancy McCallum, ?LukeKirsty Campbell, Agnes Clark, Annie Pettigrew, Lizzie McNicol, ?, grand-daughter of Mrs. Stewart, Miss MacIver, personal attendant to Mrs. Plowden (Tombuie) Minnie taking photoThe Plowden ExhibitionBridget Lady Plowden
Roger and Helen’s son Edwin, Baron Plowden GBE KCB married Dame Bridget Horatia Richmond. Bridget chaired the group who wrote and published the 1967 Plowden Report on Primary Education. This fundamentally changed the way young children were educated. (The editor of this page trained as a primary teacher in the late 60s, early 70s and remembers clearly “….Age, Aptitude and Ability…..”)In 2012 Francis Plowden (Bridget and Edwin’s son) visited Strachur and visited the school as part of their celebrations – it was 100 years since the new part of the school had been built.
Roger and his brother Frank (Francis)and Juggins the dog
Watercolour by Minnie Plowden
Sir Fitzroy Maclean
Sir Fitzroy Maclean received many honours. High among them being Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble of the Thistle