Cothall

140 years ago, Cothall, on the Altyre Estate, was home to four families. It is my understanding (going by the census returns and the window counts therein) that in the detached house (on the right) lived my great-great-grandfather, Peter Gordon, his wife Euphemia, and their five children. Peter Gordon was shepherd for Altyre – a position that he held until his sudden death in 1899.

The 1881 census reveals that Cothall was home to four families [three families lived in the u-shaped courtyard building that later became a saw mill]. The head of one of these families was another Peter Gordon, who was Gardener for Altyre. This Peter Gordon was cousin of my great-great-grandfather:

I am currently making a film about Peter Gordon, the gentle gardener. It will be a film about my name but not about me! I am hoping that my film will bring the inside outside and yesterday today. In visiting the gardens of the gentle gardener I hope to offer an understanding that it is by living that we learn and that meaning needs looking for.

I came across a felled tree at Cothall. Going by the rings it must have lived through the best part of four centuries. I stamped “The Antiquary” on it, but in life it needed no name to live so healthily.

At Cothall I came across these tools. They looked as if they could have been hanging there from the time of the Peter Gordons’.

And also at Cothall there were surviving examples Victorian graffiti:

And more recent newspaper cartoons pinned to the wall:

It was a strange and powerful experience visiting Cothall as a Peter Gordon of today:

140 years before the very day of my birth, Peter Gordon the gardener had a daughter born at Cothall [19th December 1877]. In discovering this my thoughts were naturally drawn to Sian and our daughter Rachel. How fortunate I am.

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