Cultoquhey - " at the back of a snowdrift "






Designed by Sir Robert Smirke and built some time after 1816, Cultoquhey has changed little in the past two centuries although, when the estate was broken up and sold in 1955, the house became - and still is - an  hotel. The Cultoquhey estate had since 1429 been owned by the Maxtone family, who added the name Graham in 1860 when they inherited another property owned by a relation of Thomas Graham of Balgowan, later Lord Lynedoch.

Perhaps the most famous Maxtone Graham in recent years has been Joyce Anstruther who married into the family in 1923. A writer, she altered her maiden name of J Anstruther to read Jan Struther, under which name she penned a number of hymns, including 'Lord of All Hopefulness', and the bestseller, 'Mrs Miniver', which was later made into the classic wartime film.

This pencil drawing comes from a large album of sketches which was donated to the Sandeman Library [replaced by the A K Bell Library in 1994], Perth, in around 1944 by Gladys Graham Murray. She was the daughter of Viscount Dunedin, a former Conservative politician, who was descended from the Grahams of Garvock and the Murrays of Murrayshall. There was also a family connection with Thomas Graham of Balgowan, later Lord Lynedoch, whose home is one of those featured in this book. The unknown artist was possibly a member of the Graham family. The work has been described by a senior curator at the National Gallery of Scotland “as that of a competent amateur.”

There have been at least three houses at Cultoquhey. A "fortalice and tower" is mentioned in a charter of 1545. Then the house here illustrated was built (perhaps in the 17th century - a drawing of an old model cut out of paper makes it look older than McOmie's drawing) and was occupied until 1830, when it was pulled down on the foolish advice of Robert Graham of Redgorton, "to get rid of all taxes". The present house of Cultoquhey was built between 1822 and about 1830 on a nearby site. (Robert Maxtone Graham scripsit)

During the 1930s, Margaret Ethel Blair Oliphant wrote: "The estate lies about three miles to the east of the town of Crieff at the gate of the Highlands, between the Ochil and Grampian Hills. The name signifies in Gaelic, "At the back of the snowdrift".

Never losing or gaining an acre and in unbroken descent from father to son, the Maxtones lived and died at Cultoquhey for 600 years. Robert de Maxtone had a charter of the lands dated 1410, but that the family held the estates from an earlier date is proved by mention of them in other charters. Robert Maxtone of Coltoquhey fell at (the battle of) Flodden in 1513.

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