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Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin

A Wedding at Skibo
By Elaine Smith

I was at the Skibo wedding. No, not the Madonna affair but one in the 1930s.

Our next door neighbour in Edinburgh was a young legal colleague of my father. He was an only son, rather prosaic, and his mother thought it was time he made a good marriage. She took him to Dornoch and set him on the sand near the Carnegie family who were also holidaying. She had her eye on the Carnegie widow heiress, but her son chose the daughter.

A train was chartered from Edinburgh to take the guests to Dornoch for the wedding. I well remember the placards on Princes Street saying "look at the cost of the Carnegie wedding" because it was the time of the depression in the local mills. I was about 12 years of age and it was a huge excitement on the wedding day first at Dornoch Cathedral and then on to the reception at the Castle.

In the hall, the great organ at the bottom of the majestic staircase was playing and the meal was sumptuous. The enormous library lined with shelves to the ceiling, glowed with polished books and a lift with shining, brass gates took us to the bedrooms. The swimming pool had been boarded over to make a dance floor and, in my first ever ball gown, I danced proudly with my handsome father. I was in dreamland!

We stayed a couple of days and explored the pristinely kept grounds and the high greenhouse, filled with exotic plants like the Botanical Gardens.

Sadly in a short time the Carnegie daughter died of meningitis, leaving four young children. The "guests" returned to Dornoch Cathedral for the funeral.

The four motherless children, three girls and a baby boy who is now the Carnegie heir, joined in our family activities as they grew up.

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