Museum ready for new season

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THE Insch Connection Museum opened its doors for the new season on Wednesday, March 30. The museum will be open on Wednesdays and Sundays, from 1.30 – 5pm until October.

Located in the old ticket office at Insch Station, the museum is a treasure trove of historical information on Insch and the surrounding area, featuring exhibits, artefacts and a wealth of information for those researching the history of the area.

Amongst the items visitors can see this season are model layout of Insch Railway Station through the years and the bell from St Dronstan Church.

As this year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the museum has an exhibit featuring the Bible from Largie School, which was given to the school by Alexander Butchart in 1898.

The featured exhibition for this season is “Williamston – An Insch Connection” which focuses on Williamston House and Estate in Insch. A series of displays tells the fascinating story of the house and grounds throughout its history.

Built in 1825 by Aberdeen architect Alexander Fraser the two storey Georgian house had two wings added in the 1850s. Surrounded by extensive gardens and around 250 acres of woodland, Williamston became an important part of the Insch story. It employed many Insch residents on its estate and farmland. Williamston Home Farm has an 18th century courtyard that features a threshing mill, kennels, a dovecot, separate guest stables, a byre and other farmbuildings.

The house was built for Charles Fraser who wanted a representative house on his agricultural estate. Inherited by his son Edward, it was Edward that did much to improve the landscaping around the house. He planted the woodland around the house, unfortunately many of the many of the mature trees were lost in a storm in January 1953. He also had 1400 rhododendrons planted in 1872 and designed the sheltered gardens.

The house passed to Edwards nephew, Theodore Haughton, then to Mary Lydall, who married Malcolm Burnett a member of the Kemnay branch of the Burnett family.

The exhibition covers some of the many fascinating stories connected with the house and the people who lived there, including the story of Jeanne-Marie Wenckheim Teleki an orphan rescued from Nazi Germany and adopted by Theodore Haughton and his wife Emily; the connection with Austrian medical practitioner Karl Konig and the future Camphill House on Deeside and the house’s role as Rest and Recreation Centre for members of the Austrailian and Canadian Air Forces.

The house is still in the ownership of the Burnett family today. Another interesting piece of the house’s history concerns current owner Callum Burnett’s father Lieutenant Commander Malcolm “Bouncer” Burnett who worked as code breaker in Cheltenham during World War Two.

The museum is looking forward to a busy season of visitors on Wednesdays and Sundays under new curator Henrike Bird and the staff of dedicated local volunteers, and bookings for visits at other times are welcomed. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For all enquiries contact (01464) 821354, e-mail insch.museum@gmail.com or visit www.inschmuseum.org.uk.