“Gordon estate is very close to my heart, but it also represents work. The estate is just in my DNA.”
Angus was always going to choose fishing paraphernalia. The Estate sits along eight miles along the River Spey. Scottish salmon fishing is very important both as a business and as a family affair. Angus’ wife, Zara, and his children all fish. It’s part of his family life, a rite of passage as well as being engrained in the community of Fochabers.
A wooden “priest”, shaped like a truncheon made from an antler, was used to dispatch much larger salmon in the past. This is a ceremonial priest, gifted by Angus’ great grandfather to his father to celebrate the years of fishing and the number caught. There is a caption engraved on the priest entitled, “Autumns on the Spey 1880”.
Today, fishing is a popular sport on the Estate but most of the salmon are returned to the river were Angus still fishes with his split cane fishing rod, alongside his family.
“Fishing isn’t just for men and commerce, there are lots of fisher women too. I like the diversity of people who come here to fish. As a sport it is a great equaliser. It’s for anyone interested in fishing and it’s something my own family all share and love.”
Angus would spend his school holidays on the Estate. Angus’ Grandfather, Lieutenant General Sir George Gordon Lennox, grandson of the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon, was a fair minded and successful military man, yet old fashioned and intimidating. Behind the austere image, he was still the kind grandfather and could easily forgive the child who broke his grandfather’s fishing rod. Angus’ grandmother was “far scarier” and nick named the Field General. Of all the memorabilia items Angus chooses, it is his grandfather’s battered pen knife, a gralloching knife, which holds the most significance for him, which had been handed down from his Great Great Grandfather. It now sits in Angus’ pocket and is used daily.
Angus chose to take on the Estate and he will do the same for his children. He loves it there, it’s a special place but it is also very much a place of work that he and his wife in 2008 chose to take on the responsibility. The long history of the Gordon Clan and the responsibility for the Estate could be a burden, but not for Angus. He doesn’t wish his own children to feel any expectation and will give them the choice too.
The Walled Garden
The Memorabilia box knows no limits so even an eight-acre walled garden can fit into Angus’ box. Chelsea gold medal winning designer, Arne Maynard, drew the design for its restoration, which is ongoing. In seven years, it has been transformed from an overgrown field leftover from raspberry farming, where as a child Angus used to pilfer the raspberries from, to a prolific kitchen garden with thousands of visitors.
“We have this amazing walled garden. This object is all about the garden and its botanicals. It was our most ambitious project to restore it. I’m so proud of my wife, Zara, and her hands-on work in the garden, alongside our team of gardeners. She just has a really good vision. We used a famous landscaper to redevelop the gardens. The Gordon Castle Gin includes three of our botanicals; mint, rosemary and lavender picked from the garden. It is percolated at high temperatures; spirit is added and then it is distilled five times. It has a unique flavour and was launched in 2014. We wanted it to have certain characteristics from the garden. We also make naturals jams and chutneys; we grow and sell British flowers and essential oils – all from the garden.”
The Cold War
Angus remembers his much-loved parents with their china figurines, a few of which survived all their twenty-seven house moves as his father was in the British Army. The Gordon clan’s military history and connection to the Grenadier Guards and the British Army goes back eight generations, where they have all served, including Angus and his brother. Angus’ Great Grandfather was killed at Ypres and his father and Grandfather were both decorated Generals. Angus recalls spending some of his earlier years in West Berlin, where his father Major General Bernard Charles Gordon Lennox was Commandant of the British sector at the height of the Cold War in the early 1980s. His amusement at recalling spies listening in from hidden cupboards at a dinner in East Berlin is a key recollection. Their house was regularly swept for bugs and they knew the gardener was a KGB sympathiser.
Bonnet, sporran and sgian dubh
“This has the Duke of Richmond and Gordon’s crest on the bonnet. My Great Great grandfather started this. He was Laird of the Highland Games and now we have reintroduced it and expanded it to the Gordon Castle Highland Games and Country Fair. We wanted it for the local community where we have ten thousand people in the garden in May and we open up the Castle and Gardens. And yes, I do wear my kilt!”
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