Echoes from the Sky

3 08 2014

This looked interesting:

“Garden Open Day at Borve Lodge Estate. Friday 1st August 2014 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Come and look around our wonderful vegetable gardens and find out about our vegetable box scheme. Free entry and of course free vegetable soup for all.”
john and scarecrow (3)

Having taken the photograph of the two scarecrows by the poly tunnels I wandered off in the direction of the walled vegetable garden. I was halfway down some steep stone steps that led into the circular garden and heard loud voices. It was as if people were talking into a microphone..weird. Something was picking up visitors’ voices and amplifying the sound of their conversations…touch of the Spooks I thought……
I asked the young lady who was serving the homemade vegetable soup (as advertised) to the visitors, if I was hearing things. She said No, that’s a feature of a circular walled garden.

Well, I know walled gardens are supposed to be inspiring places, but this one was dead spooky. Thinking back to yesterday it reminded me of two places. One, the circular whispering gallery in St Paul’s Cathedral where sound is carried by waves that cling to the walls. And the other, the concrete sound mirrors they called listening ears, at Denge, not far from Dungeness. The mirrors there were a forerunner of radar, built between the Wars, and were supposed to provide early warning of enemy aeroplanes approaching Britain across the Channel…sort of echoes from the sky
So here’s a bit of Borve Lodge history. It was built as a sporting lodge by the 7th Earl of Dunmore, as an aristocratic destination in the late 19th century for shooting and fishing on the west coast of South Harris. “Borve” means a fortress… the ruins of a bronze age fortress are a few hundred yards from the lodge.

In 1919, the Island of Harris was bought by Lord Leverhulme the business tycoon of Lever Brothers fame. He became the UK’s largest landowner when he bought Harris and used the lodge as a base for his big idea of making the nearby village of Leverburgh the hub of the herring industry. He was responsible for building the round walled garden.

In 1985 Dr. David Horrobin, a lipid scientist and entrepreneur (have a Google… interesting) bought the lodge. In 2008, following Horrobin’s death 5 years earlier, the Estate was purchased by its present owners, Adam Kelliher and Cathra, Dr Horrobin’s daughter. In 2011, the Kelllihers also purchased the island of Taransay closeby, made famous by the BBC TV reality show “Castaway”.

Going back to the walled garden. I like watching people. While I sat in the walled garden with my polystyrene cup of veg soup, I watched one of the elderly members of staff quietly but intentionally go up to one of the hosts of the Open Garden, on the opposite side of the garden, and whisper something to her. Ha ha. He thought he was whispering something!!




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