Lammermuir Festival > News > Winton and the wow factor

Winton and the wow factor - Lammermuir Festival

Winton House is astonishing. Sir Francis Ogilvy, whose family home it is, came to last year’s Lammermuir Festival and, fired with enthusiasm, suggested we might like to look at it as a possible venue. On our first visit we wandered through its magnificent public rooms open-mouthed at their beauty, and at the superb collection of pictures on their walls. A couple of Canalettos (Canaletti?) in one room and a famous van Dyck around the corner in another had us uncharacteristically speechless. The estate, on the edge of Pencaitland, has a fascinating history that goes right back to King David I’s grant of the land to Phillip de Sayton in 1150. Over the centuries it figured prominently in the fortunes of Scotland’s monarchs. It was James VI and I’s master mason, William Wallace, who re-designed the house in the 1620s – and his amazing twisted chimneys and elaborate ceilings are still there, looking as if they were made yesterday, as a monument to his brilliant craftsmanship.

Our afternoon concert there on September 25 makes use of the two largest rooms, and is divided into equal halves with the audience divided as well, changing over midway after a sumptuous afternoon tea (note to self: go easy on lunch that day!). Our star harpist, Emily Hoile, will be in action with a delightful selection of pieces, and the other half of the programme features a talented young soprano, Robyn Allegra Parton (replacing Louise Alder, who has had to withdraw). Robyn sings some delectable Strauss and a cycle of songs that Gian Carlo Menotti composed for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, no less.

Hugh Macdonald  –  Director, Lammermuir Festival