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Killiechassie

                                                                                                                                                  

Killiechassie - the Church of the Steep Face - takes its name from a church which once stood on the hill face. Part of the earldom of Atholl for upwards of a thousand years, Malcolm, earl of Atholl, granted the church to Scone Abbey c1165. The estate was acquired in 1699 by John, Earl of Tullibardine from his brother Lord Mungo Murray who had acquired it in 1688 from Wm Murray, son of the Minister of Logierait.

In 1706 it was feued by the 1st Duke of Atholl to Rev Robert Stewart. Descended from the Wolf of Badenoch and thence King Robert II, he was minister of Killin from 1679-1728. The natives called him 'Curam an t-saoghail' meaning 'care of the world' since he so often preached on that subject. During his years in Killin he 'neither kept register or scrolls, but monopolised all the dues payable to the Clerk, Bedal, and Box, all the time he stayed there.' By his death he had amassed sufficient funds to buy an estate in Strathtay for each of his four sons. Duncan received Blackhill; Alexander, Clochfoldich; Robert, Derculich and the eldest, James, was given Killiechassie. His son Robert led 34 of his tenants to fight in the 1745 Rising. Appointed a major in the Atholl Brigade, he and his men were the right flank company of the right battalion at Culloden. The major and three of his tenants survived the battle and made it home.

A fifth survivor, married the year before Culloden, was captured after the battle and sent as a prisoner to an English town but escaped and returned home some time later. His wife, thinking he was dead, had married again. He came to the house, looked in the window and saw his wife with a baby and her second husband sitting opposite her at the fireside. He let them be and left the area for good after divulging his circumstances to a neighbour to tell many years later.

The Rev Robert Stewart and his descendants were interred in the small private burial ground of Killiechassie, by the side of the main road, which was recently restored by the Breadalbane Heritage Society. The oldest stone whose dates can still be read stands in memory of an Adam Stewart, born 1733, died 1811. Robert Stewart Flemyng of Killiechassie bought the superiority of the estate from the Duke of Atholl in 1812.

From the Stewart Flemyings the property came into the ownership of a Mr H G. Gordon, who built and lived in the present mansion house, but in the course of a year or two it was purchased by Mr E.O. Douglas, a benefactor- of the Aberfeldy and District Cottage Hospital. Within the past century the Estate has been steadily shrinking in size and changed ownership a number of times amongst whom have been Lord Barnby of Blyth, Captain J. E B Radcliffe. Mr William Hood, and Mr Walter Nicoll. Since World War II the owners have been, from memory, Mr & Mrs Cole, who previously lived at Campden House, Chipping Campden, Jock & Mrs Hanchett-Taylor,  James & Dierdre Boscawen, Jamie and Angie Thompson and, finally, Freddi.

Killiechassie House was built in 1865 to replace an older house which occupied a site on a level piece of ground on a natural terrace about 100 yards further east. A little way up the drive there is an old sycamore tree which is called Prince Charlie's Tree, the story being that, during his wanderings in the Highlands, Prince Charles spent a night under its shade. The stone lintel of the front doorway of the old house is built into a rockery facing the front door of the new. It bears a religious inscription

Close to the road is a sycamore (or plane) which was said to bud long before others of its species in the district, or, indeed, before any of the others in the Tay valley. The proprietor being in Devonshire on one occasion was asked if the trees in Scotland budded early? "Yes," he replied, "the Plane in Killiechassie can hold its own with yours in Devonshire." "Nay, not so, two to one on it !" "Taken," was the reply. The Killiechassie proprietor won the bet and pocketed £150.

At the entrance gate to the mansion house the stones in which the iron railing is fixed are composed of limestone from Clach an Tartair, in Findynate hill. The Carn Mor (big cairn) is situated near the north-eastern boundary of the estate, and there in winter the tinkers used to camp. The chapel or church from which the estate got its name is situated right above the little village of Chapelton. The church was in existence 700 years ago but there is no sign now either of it or of the adjacent burial ground except a single standing stone, uninscribed, though burials are said to have taken place here up to about the 1740s. They ceased when the ferry carrying a funeral party across the Tay capsized, drowning all on board. There are some very deep pools on the Tay on this property, notably "Poll gheal Ghoil" - white boiling pool. As the river leaves the estate it enters 'Pool-an-Doran' - the otter's pool.

Near the western boundary of Killiechassie is a spot called An Stair Ghorach. There is a ford on the Tay here haunted by a water kelpie that used to cry prior to a death by drowning "Thainig Uair, ach cha d'thainig an duine" - The hour has come but not the man. Invariably after this someone was drowned at the ford.

The road above the house towards Tombuie runs through Bealaidh an Tuim - an eerie spot that used to be avoided by people at night. It was supposed to be haunted by the Devil in person. The name signifies Broom of the Tom or Mound.

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