A Personal Photo-Time-Line Of The Hall of Clestrain – Part One

By Bernie Bell

We haven’t been to the Hall of Clestrain for quite a while.  There would have been Open Days over the spring and summer this year, but they couldn’t take place due to  – You Know What.  It’s getting to be like Voldemort – folk don’t even want to say its name!

Meanwhile, a small group of volunteers have been working outside, excavating around the Hall, and have made some interesting discoveries.  To find out more, you could check out the John Rae Society website https://www.johnraesociety.com/.

During these difficult times, many  Open Days have had to be cancelled, with a resulting loss of funds for various organizations, such as the JRS, and the Orkney Archaeology Society.

In the hope of keeping what’s happening in Orkney in the public awareness, and hopefully bringing in some donations!  I put together personal photo-timelines for the Ness of Brodgar and The Cairns archaeology digs.  I thought I’d also go back to when Mike and I first visited the Hall of Clestrain, look through our photos, and put together a similar time-line of developments, there.

And so, here it is – mostly images, some words.  Some of the images will have appeared in previous articles about the Hall of Clestrain, in The Orkney News   https://theorkneynews.scot/?s=Hall+of+Clestrain – some, won’t!

I’ll begin with the year 2016, and our first visit to the home of John Rae, Arctic Explorer, for the official ‘handing over of the keys’ ceremony to mark the purchase of the Hall, by the JRS, from Jean and Ivan Craigie.

Handing over the keys (B Bell) The Hall of Clestrain, Orphir, Orkney – home of John Rae and his family, now undergoing restoration.  

The pic. shows President to the JRS, Andrew Appleby, presenting Jean and Ivan with a painting of the Hall.

This was a turning point for the potential renovation of the Hall.  Ownership means more freedom of action, and also more scope for applying for Grants etc.

It was a very happy occasion, with a real ‘buzz’ of excitement and anticipation  – looking ahead to exciting times for the Hall, and the JRS.

And now, just some pics….

The back door – which used to be covered in feathers and pigeon poo – a lot of the Hall was covered in pigeon poo!

One of my favourite ‘bits’ of the Hall – a spiral on the pediment of the front steps –

Willing helpers raise the marquee……..

To wind up 2016 – as the day drew to a close – the view from the front garden of the Hall of Clestrain…….

(to be continued……)

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