RFS members may like to get hold of a copy of the March 11th issue of Country Life: the magazine contains a fascinating article by former RFS journal editor David Jones which dovetails an article on the building history of the castle by Mary Miers in the same issue. Members may recall that David conducted a study day of the 18th and 19th century furniture at Blair Castle in Perthshire last year, and this article reveals his recent discoveries.
In the turbulent times of the Jacobite rebellion of the 1740s the Duke of Atholl commenced a transformation of the castle from an antiquated fortress to a sophisticated Highland palace. He employed an impressive role-call of London and Scottish furniture makers including Thomas Chippendale. His programme was continued by successive Dukes reflecting the changes of fashion yet with the unifying strand of using unusual native woods, mostly from the Atholl Estates.
The Plantagenet (a pun on the Latin name for broom : Planta Genista) bureau-bookcase by Perth maker George Sandeman ‘achieves unique whimsical effects’ in the use of broom-wood veneers laid in a striped pattern on an oak carcass. (photo: Country Life)
David suggests that the imaginative patronage of furniture makers by successive Dukes of Atholl over the course of 100 years and their use of native timbers over mahogany is unparalleled in any other house.