The 1800's to present day
The 1800's to present day
Traquair in the nineteenth century was a house in decline. Charles, the eight Earl inherited a large financial debt from his father but although he was forced to reduce the size of the estate he was able to implement a progressive policy of modernisation and farm building. Unfortunately, he never married but he did have his share of eccentricities and thwarted his family's attempts to find him a wife by putting stinging nettles in the beds of his female admirers.
As Charles had no children Traquair passed to his sister Lady Louisa Stuart. She lived on for another 14 years, dying in her 100th year in 1875, and was a friend and neighbour of Sir Walter Scott whom she visited at Abbotsford, just over the hills from Traquair.
After the death of the last Earl, the earldom became extinct as the title could only pass through a male heir. Traquair was then passed to the nearest cousin, Henry Constable Maxwell of Terregles. He added the name Stuart to his own.
The Maxwell family were also recusant Catholics who had remained faithful to their religion and they had great respect for Traquair. He and his wife, Juliana Middleton brought up their large family between Yorkshire and Scotland. After Henry's death Traquair passed to his eldest son Herbert, a great collector of precious stones and a love of shooting which the game book at Traquair records. He was followed by his younger brother Arthur, who was in his seventies when he inherited Traquair who then passed it to his eldest nephew Frank Maxwell Stuart, who became the 19th Laird of Traquair.
Frank was the eldest of twelve children and four of his brothers had been lost as young men in the First World War. When he inherited the house it was badly in need of repair but the Second World War had just broken out and Frank volunteered as a bomb disposal expert leaving his wife, Dorothy, at Traquair where she lived with oil lamps and little heating throughout the next six years.
After the war was over and the new Labour government began to give grants to rrestore historic houses, Frank began uncovering some of the great treasures of Traquair; the 17th century painted beams in the High Drawing Room, the remarkable tapestries and needlework that had been carefully packed away in trunks and the superb collection of Jacobite glass.
Frank opened the house in 1953 showing groups of visitors around a few of the rooms in the house on two afternoons a week. However, when his son, Peter inherited in 1963, it was clear that in order to maintain the house and tackle the repairs the house was going to need a much larger income than the estate could provide.
Peter gave up his job with Haig whisky and together with his wife, Flora they devoted the next thirty years of their life in developing Traquair into the tourist attraction it is today. This included bringing the 18th century brewery back to life and becoming the first domestic brewery in the UK for many years to hold a commercial brewing licence.
In 1990, Peter died leaving the house to his wife Flora, and together with her daughter, Catherine, they ran Traquair for the next 10 years beginning to host weddings, receiving guests on a bed and breakfast basis and developing an annual programme of summer events. In 1999, Flora married the film director, Robin Crichton and retired, making the house over to her daughter Catherine and setting up The Traquair Charitable Trust. It is now the family home of Catherine, twenty first Lady of Traquair, her husband Mark Muller QC and their three children, Isabella, Louis and Charlotte.