The old square radio in the corner caught my eye. A relic of another era, a more modern one than the house.
My husband and I were visiting The Haining on an open day. The Haining is a country house set within a 160 acre estate in the town of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders.
In the 12th century there was a motte there, then a castle, rebuilt because during the Wars of Scottish Independence Borders dwellings tended to get knocked around a bit. In the 17th century the estate was built up and a house commissioned, work began on the designed landscape and a programme of extensive tree planting was embarked on. At the end of the 18th century a new classical-style house was built, remodelled to fit changing tastes and status, statuary and marble ideas garnered from Grand Tours of Europe. The shutters were presumably inspired by more recent visits to Mediterranean climes. Each generation added its own layers, its own pieces of quirkiness.
The army requisitioned the house during the WW2. Wooden floors were removed and replaced by concrete, and Free Polish soldiers along with their mascot, Wojtec the bear, took up residence.
The last owner Andrew Nimmo-Smith died in 2009 and left The Haining and its grounds “for the benefit of the community of Selkirkshire and the wider public.” The property is now owned by a charitable trust who have a vision of a restored house with an art gallery, artist studios, spaces for arts and crafts events, weddings, book launches, recitals, and other get-togethers, inspired and enhanced by the wonderful garden and loch backdrop.
Work has already begun on the £1.4m restoration of the A listed stable block, one of the most significant of its kind in Scotland. It will become workshops and units for small local businesses.
Recently an auction saw most of the house’s furniture and furnishings sold, leaving behind the worthless bits and pieces, mementos, quirky elements of some of the eras the house has lived through. Those too will disappear in an auction of memorabilia in a couple of week’s time.
Like onion skins the additions of generations are being peeled away to reveal the bones of the old place. With hard work, time, patience and numerous funding applications and fundraising events, the trust aided by a dedicated band of volunteers hope to make this a place that’s central to the community and of which it can be justifiably proud.
It’s great to have a vision.
For more information on The Haining see the website – http://www.thehaining.co.uk