I’m happy to learn, inside your latest article touring us around Arcachon’s ‘less known heights’, that old villas of the area had a Scottish link!
Great discovery my friend .
And I just love the black & white postcards you showcased, as they romantically travel us back into time …
The following excerpt from your post caught my attention:
So, here we were, in Alley Faust, just in front of “Craigcrostan”, the beautiful neo-Palladian villa built in 1880 by a London architect for William Laird Mac Gregor, a wealthy Scottish lord. The fact that he had renamed villa “Eugénie” into villa “Glenstrae”, after the name of a land occupied by the MacGregor clan in Scotland, shows how deeply attached he was to his Scottish roots. Why he did change “Hermosa’”, the name of his other villa, into “Soleil Levant” I don’t know, but what is sure is that from the “belvédère” (gazebo) of Craigcrostan he could admire the sun rising and setting on the beautiful Arcachon Bay.
Used to come there for health problems William Laird MacGregor had finally settled in Arcachon. I’ve read that at that time there was an important English and Scottish community there. He was known as an eccentric man, never breaking his daily ritual ride in a horse car, beginning its trip snugly wrapped in a lot of blankets which he took off one after the other at defined ‘checkpoints’ where a servant was waiting for him to fetch the blankets back home.
Source: A Mysterious William Laird Mac Gregor in Arcachon… Mairiuna, Scotiana
You mention above that William Laird Mac Gregor renamed villa “Eugénie” into villa “Glenstrae”, ‘after the name of a land occupied by the MacGregor clan in Scotland, ..(…)...’
That’s what triggered my curiosity. Glenstrae? Don’t recall reading about or viewing this part of Scotland. Where is it located?
Off am I to research about this piece of land and the relationship it has with the clan Mac Gregor.
I found a little book in the Scottish Clans section of my library, bought while shopping at “The Book Shop” in Wigtown, Scotland, a few years ago, titled “Collins Guide To Scots Kith & Kin – A Guide To The Clans & Surnames of Scotland“, inside which there’s a fold-out color map of Scotland showing the homelands of the clans and illustrating significant events in Scottish history.
From it I cropped the image below to show the MacGregors homeland. It clearly indicates they were nested in between the Campbells and the Stewarts of Balquhidder lands.
But what I am now looking for is a map that displays geographically the Glen.
On Hal MacGregor’s website, I collected a little bit more info,
By the beginning of the 16th century, there were five main MacGregor geographical districts, in valleys (Glens): Glen Dochart, Glen Orchy, Glen Lyon, Glen Strae, and Glen Gyle. There were also adjacent areas where the Gregor clan was prevalent.
and I was glad to come across John Hennessy’s beautiful landscape photography of the glen. Contemplating this photo brings me into calmness of mind. Can’t wait to go back to this marvellous country…
Still looking for a geographical map, I googled my way around.
Ah! Getting closer…here’s an aerial view of the area:
It’s near Stronmilchan, encapsulated between Beinn Eunaich and Beinn Donachaine. There we go!
It will now be easier for me to imagine the scenes, in those not so far away times, when the Scottish Clans were focusing on territorial possession.
Flipping through the pages of the book, I found another reference to Glenstrae under the MacGregor descriptive text. I’ve scanned it for you below:
Convinced that Nigel Tranter (23 November 1909 – 9 January 2000) had written something about the MacGregors, I grabbed “The Nigel Tranter Bibliography” from the bookshelf, as it compiles all his writings.
By the way, this is such a great book for bibliophiles, as it contains every single edition of every single work published (more then 137) by Nigel Tranter during his career! Quite impressive.
This compilation is an ‘extraordinary labour of love’ and I am grateful to Colin Mills for undertaking this great project thus giving us the opportunity to grasp the intensity of Nigel Tranter’s writing career and have such a great reference available. If not on your bookshelf yet, it’s a must, especially if you’re a fan of Scottish history.
On page 104 of the book, there’s a reproduction of the text printed on the front flap of the 1st edition of his book: ” Children Of The Mist”. It goes like this:
“Our race is royal” was the proud claim of the MacGregors. Yet as resounding as was their background, and far from negligible their fighting qualities, they were small as highland clans went and they had the misfortune to occupy lands fairly close to the great Clan Campbell.
“By the end of the sixteen century Alastair MacGregor of Glen Strae, the young chief, fell heir to a dire heritage indeed. With little left to his clan save Glen Strae and some smaller lairdships, where once they had owned more than half of Scotland, he is faced with a challenge. And although no warlike character, he sought to meet that challenge
“The principal threat was Black Duncan of the Cowl, Campbell of Glenorchy, a dangerous foe indeed, clever as he was unscrupulous, and with the ear of King James the Sixth. This is the story of their conflict, of intrigue and folly, courage and treachery, and sheerest drama, which shows Nigel Tranter at the peak of his form, unveiling the heart and fascination of Scotland’s history.”
You know what? From all the books written by Nigel Tranter housed in my library, I don’t have ‘Children Of The Mist‘ ! Amazon, here I come
The MacGregors have such an important role in Scotland’s history, that I think we should write some articles on Scotiana , dwelving even deeper into the dramatic events that took part in those late 16th century years amongst the ancient Scottish clans. It’s a very complex system and it would be worthwhile to give some writing time to the subject.
What do you think Mairiuna?
Until next, all the very best.
PS: You might also want to check out Bookabus’s Ebay Store for gorgeous Canvas Art Print on MacGregor Tartan