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  1. #1
    Member boltman's Avatar
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    Balnagown Estate

    The ancestral home of Sir Charles Ross. Some years ago it was purchased and restored by Egyptian businessman, Mohamed Al Fayed. I see they are open for tours. Anyone been there? Is there any visible connection to Sir Charles? In looking through their website photos, I didn't find any rifle displays:

    Balnagown Estate | Sporting Estate Luxury Holiday Cottages, Highlands, Scotland

    Further research has clarified that one can actually stay in the various buildings of Balnagown Estate, but not the castle itself. Has anyone toured the castle?



    About Balnagown Castle and its restoration | About Balnagown Estates
    Last edited by boltman; 08-16-2020 at 02:31 PM. Reason: further research

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    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    It would have been a nice place for a collection of Ross rifles to be displayed, but what was left of Sr. C's collection in the house was supposedly chucked in the ocean sometime in the what, 50s or 60s?
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Member boltman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    It would have been a nice place for a collection of Ross rifles to be displayed, but what was left of Sr. C's collection in the house was supposedly chucked in the ocean sometime in the what, 50s or 60s?
    I recall several years ago hearing that Al Fayed was looking to acquire Ross rifles as part of the castle restoration. I have no idea if that is true but anyone who has toured the castle could confirm or deny this.

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    Senior Member vykkagur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    It would have been a nice place for a collection of Ross rifles to be displayed, but what was left of Sr. C's collection in the house was supposedly chucked in the ocean sometime in the what, 50s or 60s?
    I had not heard this before. It makes me sick.

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    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    It's in TRRS, but of course being Scotland, where copper wire was invented, I suspect some may have found new homes elsewhere.
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    When I spotted this thread it triggered memories of when I lived in the area and I just had to add something to the thread.

    My last visit on Balnagown Estate was to the Falls of Shin, I found a new visitor centre built there with a huge car park. I hadn’t been there since the 60’s. There was nothing there about Sir Charles Ross, only a full size model of Al Fayed in highland dress and lots of Harrods goods. We used to go right to the water’s edge to get close to the salmon as they jumped the falls, but this time the falls were fenced off.

    I vaguely recall visiting the castle with my stepfather who rented a farm from Balnagown Estate, the visit would have been in the late 50's, if there were any rifles displayed, I don't recall seeing any, but then it was a long time ago. My stepfather and others in the area who used to know Sir Charles Ross, told me stories about him, one was that he had left Scotland for Canadaicon owing a lot of tax to the Inland Revenue and in the local’s words, was branded an outlaw. I was also told that he would sneak back into Scotland on occasion to visit old friends who had no idea how he managed to avoid being caught, I think they saw him as a hero. I didn't hear anyone say otherwise, even though he was a bit of a prankster and had been known to toss a live cartridge into a host's living room fire during New Year festivities.

    One of the memories this thread has triggered, was when a friend pulled two shotguns from a cupboard in his grandmother’s house they had once belonged to Sir Charles Ross. One was an eight or ten bore pinfire, the other was a percussion muzzle loader, both double barrels. My pal’s surname was Ross and there was some connection to Sir Charles Ross’, which I can’t remember.
    I apologise if I went off subject, but I thought some of this might be of interest.
    Last edited by IanS; 09-03-2020 at 07:08 PM. Reason: Grammar correction

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    Senior Member vykkagur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanS View Post
    When I spotted this thread it triggered memories of when I lived in the area and I just had to add something to the thread.

    My last visit on Balnagown Estate was to the Falls of Shin, I found a new visitor centre built there with a huge car park. I hadn’t been there since the 60’s. There was nothing there about Sir Charles Ross, only a full size model of Al Fayed in highland dress and lots of Harrods goods. We used to go right to the water’s edge to get close to the salmon as they jumped the falls, but this time the falls were fenced off.

    I vaguely recall visiting the castle with my stepfather who rented a farm from Balnagown Estate, the visit would have been in the late 50's, if there were any rifles displayed, I don't recall seeing any, but then it was a long time ago. My stepfather and others in the area who used to know Sir Charles Ross, told me stories about him, one was that he had left Scotland for Canadaicon owing a lot of tax to the Inland Revenue and in the local’s words, was branded an outlaw. I was also told that he would sneak back into Scotland on occasion to visit old friends who had no idea how he managed to avoid being caught, I think they saw him as a hero. I didn't hear anyone say otherwise, even though he was a bit of a prankster and had been known to toss a live cartridge into a host's living room fire during New Year festivities.

    One of the memories this thread has triggered, was when a friend pulled two shotguns from a cupboard in his grandmother’s house that had once belonged to Sir Charles Ross. One was an eight or ten bore pinfire, the other was a percussion muzzle loader, both double barrels. My pal’s surname was Ross and there was some connection to Sir Charles Ross’, which I can’t remember.
    I apologise if I went off subject, but I thought some of this might be of interest.

    Do not apologise, sir! This is exactly the sort of history we enjoy hearing, and I suspect boltman would consider this entirely in keeping with the spirit of his original post. If we don't get these reminiscences on the record while we're all on the sunny side of the turf, they're lost forever once we're gone. I've often wished that Sir Charles himself had written his memoirs. What they might have lacked in historical accuracy they would have more than made up for in entertainment value. What we're instead left with is the record of the Al Fayeds of this world....

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    According to TRRS, your "anecdotal history" is highly accurate, as such often is in IMHO. Sir Charles is stated there to have been a tax exile, and is reported to have paid covert visits to his estates from overseas.

    He was a right old rogue from the Scots tradition, and there's reason to think he somewhat saw himself in that light.

    I wonder if the shotguns might have belonged to Sir Charles' father, who was also rather a "character" it is said?

    Thanks for contributing!
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Yes, both of those stories are true.

    During WW2 the Crown harvested a lot of the timber on the Balnagown estate for the war effort, and applied the money they owed for it against Sir Charles's tax debt (by then Ross was dead, of course). So once the war was over his third and final wife was able to return to an estate largely free of debt.

    Some years ago I examined a file in the Public Records Office and made a note:



    FO 371/61111

    Correspondence relating to the Balnagown Estate (in liquidation), property of the late Sir Charles Ross, and various properties in it which were requisitioned under wartime powers so they could be farmed more efficiently. Scottish Department unwilling to give them back and intends to let them to new tenants.

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    Member boltman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vykkagur View Post
    Do not apologise, sir! This is exactly the sort of history we enjoy hearing, and I suspect boltman would consider this entirely in keeping with the spirit of his original post. If we don't get these reminiscences on the record while we're all on the sunny side of the turf, they're lost forever once we're gone. I've often wished that Sir Charles himself had written his memoirs. What they might have lacked in historical accuracy they would have more than made up for in entertainment value. What we're instead left with is the record of the Al Fayeds of this world....
    Yes indeed. No need for apology. vykkagur is quite correct - it very much reflects the spirit with which I started this thread. I am saddened to hear that the castle appears stripped of what those of us here would find of greatest interest.

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