The Ardross-man


December 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

I mentioned in a previous post (Good Books) that I had found some old newspapers, a bible and a Victorian book in various parts of the Barony St John Church. Well, I also found an old Christmas card.

I’m not sure how old it is but, judging by the children’s clothing and the decorations, I would guess that it is set around the turn of the last century, maybe even Victorian.

The card itself is an octagon shape and around the central painting of the children are traditional Christmas holly leaves – but what makes the card stand out is that all over the white border are embossed holly leaves. A really beautiful card.

Now unfortunately, like many other people I find Christmas a sad time of year. I remember the wonderful Christmases I had with my children in the Highlands. The stockings hanging up around a roaring log fire, the inevitable snow, and the look on my children’s faces as they realised Santa had been and they began opening their Christmas presents around our six foot high Christmas tree adorned with wonderful white fairy lights and silver baubles. Magical.

Divorce meant I lost of all of that, and much more. I was heartbroken. Christmas has never been the same again. The magic and sparkle has gone….I guess a bit like this old Christmas card.

Although a really lovely card, the ravages of time have not been kind to the paper the card is made from and there are several stains, splashes of what looks like rust, dust and dirt covering it.

I suppose it’s like my own and maybe your own Christmas; no matter what kind of year you’ve had, you’ve weathered the good times and the bad, the occasional good days and perhaps the more frequent bad days. But Christmas is a time to forget all those worries, a time of adding light into your life by putting up the tree and fairy lights, splashing some colour to your home with tinsel decorations and giving presents – adding a little cheer … if not to your life, then to someone else’s.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The joy of giving rather than the receiving?

Maybe this old Christmas card has a lesson for us all.

Merry Christmas from everyone at the Barony St John Regeneration Project and The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety – and if you want to give a little something to help me regenerate the Barony buildings, please check out our crowd fund page at


or pop a wee donation in an envelope in our letterbox. Every penny will go towards saving and  restoring the Barony St John buildings.

I hope Santa is good to you. Best wishes – and I’ll see you in the New Year.



Good books

I previously mentioned how myself, Emma Paterson and her daughter Ami had been scouring the debris of the Barony St John church and found some old pamphlets in the rafters. Well, we also found a bible.

Now this bible was lying open and obviously had been lying up there for years. What we cannot understand is how it got there. It is too big to fallen down the gap between floorboards so we can only assume that at some point, the floor in the upper gallery was exposed and a bible has fallen down.

The page that it was open at was in the Book of Psalms and the line that caught my eye was “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross”. Very apt for the work my charity does. 🙂

And we found another book on the same day behind the church organ.


Despite it’s age and the discoloured, dusty cover, the inside pages were immaculate.

The book was titled “Lindsay’s Letters on the Holy Land” and is the Third Edition dating from 1839.

A quick internet search revealed that Lord Alexander Lindsay was the 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres. He was born on the 16th October 1812 at Muncaster Castle in Cumbria. He went to Eton and Trinity College before travelling around the world collecting art (how typical of a Victorian member of the aristocracy LOL).

He spent 1837/38 journeying across the Middle East and writing his “Letters on the Holy Land” which seems to have been a huge hit as it was republished at least three times.

He also published “Progression by Antagonism” in 1846 and “Sketches of the History of Christian Art” in 1847. His art collections are still on display in many galleries around the world.

Lord Alexander Lindsay died on the 13th December 1880 aged 68 in Florence, Italy. He was brought home for burial in the family crypt at Dunecht House near Aberdeen but soon after his burial, his grave was robbed by a local poacher. His body was eventually recovered from a shallow grave fourteen months later. A monument marks the shallow grave where his body was found at Dunecht but his remains were reburied in the family vault in Wigan.

Why Wigan? Well, Alexander’s father, James Lindsay, was the Tory MP for Wigan from 1820 to 1825 before becoming the Baron of Wigan in 1826. After his death on 23rd December 1869, he was buried in the family vault at All Saints’ Church in Wigan – where his son would join him 11 years later.

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