Ena Scott, Hill of Orchard, died the night before she entered her hundredth year.
Ena married my Grumpa’s cousin, Anderson Scott.
I treasure the brief moments that I shared with Ena Scott: moments that were very late in her life.
Ena Scott was a great writer of letters. In her letters Ena Scott had the gift of expressing what really matters.
I have all of Ena Scott’s letters.
As my gift for her 99th birthday, I sent a book that I reckoned, as a fellow gardener, that Ena Scott might appreciate: “The Well Tempered Garden”. Sadly Ena Scott died the night before her birthday.
Chapter Sixteen: Hill of Orchard – Aunt Ena Scott
In 2001 I lost a dear friend. On the morning before her hundredth year Aunt Ena, the Chatelaine of Hill of Orchard, Carluke, passed away peacefully in her sleep.
This graceful woman left a void in the hearts of many – of whom I was just one. Now Peter had lost his second dear ‘Mrs Scott.’ Although he only knew Aunt Ena in her latter years, a deep attachment had formed between them, sharing at their core, a spirit of compassion and humanity. Aunt Ena was, as a correspondent, eloquent and graceful. I cherished her letters, and in a medium, so rare in the modern day, we shared much. A touching tribute was paid by her son, Kenneth Anderson Scott with the private publication of his Mother’s memoirs ‘Some of my Memories.’
Aunt Ena, today – the 23rd of September 2002, would have been your hundredth birthday – I raise a toast to you and a life truly worth celebrating. I miss you.
Below is but a small part of the correspondence. Reading it again reminds me how much he misses this special ‘lady of letters.’
I first met Aunt Ena in the late summer of 1999. I knew that Aunt Ena was a widow and that her deceased husband ‘Anderson’ had been a great friend and cousin of my grandfather Rab Scott. The visit was arranged through Ena’s son Kenneth, the last director of R & W. Scott. The loss of Kenneth severed 120 years of a family business. Times though had changed, with vastly different market economies, cheap importation and the domination of the superstore. Jam could no longer simply be a Scottish family affair and in 1997 R & W. Scott was taken over by a German company.
Hill of Orchard was an enchanting place. It sat on the shoulder of the orchard overlooking Crossford above the middle reaches of the Clyde valley. Intimate and cosy, it was surrounded by luxurious Rhododendrons and a most fragrant garden. Indeed any gardener would have been proud to take their spade here. From the start the ‘garden-maker’ and Aunt Ena were walking and talking familiar ground.
“The Rhododendrons planted in 1925 are now large, and circle the house in an early summer spectacular. Roses and sweet peas remain my favourite summer flowers gentians win a very warm place in spring and autumn. I should really add all flowers for their enduring pleasure.”
Correspondence with Aunt Ena began in October of 1999 and continued regularly until her death. Looking out for Aunt Ena’s letter always brought me a deep sense of warm anticipation for that easy and warm eloquence.
7th October 1999
Dear Aunt Ena,
Forgive the familiarity, but Kenneth said this was how I should address you. I do hope you are keeping well and all is fine at ‘Hill of Orchard’. You will remember me, the ‘Psychiatrist from Aberdeen!’… I try not to publicise it, not that I’m ashamed – just that it tends to stop conversations! As I am sure you can imagine.
I have been meaning to write to you since my visit earlier in the year. I had a wonderful time, Kenneth was charming, and it was especially nice to meet you. Never before have I had my shoes polished whilst stopping for a cuppa! (you will remember, Kenneth had shown me the Orchard Farm and our shoes were caked in mud, we took them off at your front door, and your housekeeper then kindly cleaned them).
I have been collecting a little more on the Scott family … in fits-and-starts really. It’s the family stories and the social history, rather than lists of names that interests me. I have very fond memories of my grandfather Rab Scott, and this spurs me on. There is undoubtedly a familiarity of appearance in Kenneth (which at least to me, reminds me of my grumpa Rab).
Your husband’s father, John was the youngest brother of Robert Scott (the eldest). Robert Scott retired from the Jam Factory in 1910, and then as you know moved to Bridge of Allan where he built a house, and established an orchard for his retirement. He took tenancy of Drumdruils farm (again in Bridge of Allan) and with his son John ventured to establish an Orchard there. Unfortunately John died young, aged 34yrs in 1912. This was Rab’s father. Rab was 6yrs old at the time.
You may remember that I am married to Sian, we met as doctors in Aberdeen; we have a 2½ year old son called Andrew. He is wonderful and he just can’t get enough of ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’.
I wondered what your memories of the Scott family might be and the stories of their lives that one so often finds are lost and forgotten? Please feel no pressure to reply. For many years, my father tried to generate my enthusiasm for family history: I guess he finally succeeded. However it means that I know for many the interest is lost.
I am simply pleased to have met you and your son Kenneth, and hope that it may not be too long before we can meet again.
With love & Best Wishes, Peter
Aunt Ena replied to the above letter, with a beautifully scripted hand-written document running to five A4 pages. I knew then, if I had any doubt before, that this was a rather special lady. Aunt Ena recalled the generosity of Bob Scott (chapter 3) and his ‘ornamental son’ James – the tall giant Scott and Gallipoli hero. She also explained how John Scott (1862-1942), the younger brother of Bob, developed the Jam works, setting up factories in Hayes, Middlesex and in Ireland:
“John Scott of Orchard House here was a very generous and high principled man, a real father to me and a dear friend – as was his wife. Their home was shared by many, many friends, and their lovely terraced gardens were a joy to all. They had three gardeners and a chauffeur, with a staff of three in the house, so everything ran with precision, and I always felt, perfection.”
It was in the overhanging gazebo of the upper terrace that Anderson proposed to Ena. It would be hard to find a more romantic setting. These days it lies dormant and rotting – so ill-befitting of such a wonderfully romantic history.
“The house here (Hill of Orchard) was gifted to us on our marriage in 1926 (older sons had refused to have it!) and there was close friendship between us with daily contacts. I am sad to see the lovely estate deteriorated, gardens untended, as the nursing home proprietors take no interest them and employ no staff.”
One of my favourite Aunt Ena stories was about her godson, Michael Shea. Aunt Ena was at his birth when he was born in Fairyknowe, indeed she helped at his delivery. His parents had bought the house from Bob Scott after James the Gallipoli hero died in 1935. Aunt Ena recalled how she was the first to carry young Michael downstairs wrapped in towel and cosy from birth. Sixty years later, Michael, at last, got the opportunity to return the favour as he carried Aunt Ena up the steps to St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh Castle. That was Aunt Ena’s last trip to the chapel and the Guild of which she had been a founder member for 57 years.
After Aunt Ena’s death in September 2001, her son Kenneth approached the Castle authorities and the St Margaret’s Chapel Guild to ask if a bench dedicated to Aunt Ena could be placed outside the Chapel. Their wholehearted consent was given.
Figure 4: Aunt Ena’s commemoration bench outside St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh Castle
Represented below, some letters describing the wonderful joy that children bring. On this Peter and Ena waxed lyrical! Aunt Ena loved children and in return they loved her.
Saturday, 11th November 2000
Dear Aunt Ena,
Well our little Rachel is now almost three months old and she’s bright-eyed and full of smiles. Andrew spends much of his time trying to teach her about Thomas the Tank! (his enthusiasm for trains has no limits; it is just bound to wear off on Rachel, and who knows, engineering may be her vocation.)
Andrew is at that age where he can make hilarious little-sayings, and I am trying to recall a few of them for you:
“Tonight we’ll play all day!”
When my wallet was stolen at work:
“Don’t worry Daddy, I’ll BUY you some money!”
“For Christmas I’ll buy Granny & Grandma Easter-eggs!”
“Daddy, Look! I can blink with both eyes!”
When Sian was 8 months pregnant:
Mummy, will your tummy reach the ceiling??!”
We have just had a lovely week with my Mum and Dad in Edinburgh, and it is nice to feel rested, with a little breathing space for writing letters.
My sister Gillian has had a very difficult time with her wee baby. Sarah was born with a very small airway, and at two weeks of age was rushed into Hospital. Since then she has had a permanent tracheotomy, and breathes through this. No air passes her vocal cords so she can’t cry or talk. Poor Gillian has to be very vigilant, and along with her husband Richie, looks very tired. They hope that when Sarah is 2 years old that she can get the tracheotomy tube out. There is however a chance that Sarah might require surgery to reconstruct her airway. It’s not a nice thought. She’s such a smashing wee girl with a real warm personality.
In the ‘fair reevin’ wind of Aberdeen’ we think of you, send on our warmest love, and hope that you are happy and well.
With warmest love,
Peter, Sian, Andrew and Rachel
Herewith was Aunt Ena’s reply:
14th November 2000
That was a nice surprise the postman brought this morning. I was so pleased to hear of Rachel’s progress, and all the cute sayings of her big brother. An engineer in the making I am sure. My dad was a Marine Engineer, Sailing Chief with the British India Company in the Far East. His skills have not been handed down in my genes! Mechanical things just puzzle me. Sian will be kept very busy, but childhood passes so quickly that it is very special for parents.
Ken and family are well and busy. The three children are now at the High School of Glasgow (official name), and kept well occupied, as are the parents as they meet trains and see to housework, etc. The morning train is at 7.30, and on free evenings they are at Carluke Station at 5pm, later if they are at Club activities. Fiona has 5 ‘A’s in ‘Higher Still’ so no anxiety in the recent worries. She is back doing Upper 6th before University. Isla and Euan are stages behind her, and doing well if not prize-winners. I admire all that the staff do to point each in the right directions.
Myself? Live for my 99th year, with the help my source of pain and hand not working as fast as brain!
With much love to the doctors, the engineer and the charming sister.
Letters continued right through 2001 with the last letter just a month before Aunt Ena’s death (see Figure 5 below.) Looking back now I can see that Aunt Ena knew that she was failing, and somehow she managed to hide this awareness beneath her own elegant prose:
“I am almost as I was when you saw me, if perhaps, slower and smaller! Lack of mobility is the drawback to any more active interests, but at 98½ one has to realise that even engines wear out. On my Census form I have put a tick at ‘good’ for health! So many of my friends of following generations have problems which I have escaped and I count my blessings.”
Perhaps surprisingly I did not struggle to think of a present for a 99 year-old. I knew exactly what I wanted for Aunt Ena: a gardening book. The choice was simple – Christopher Lloyd’s unsurpassed Well Tempered Garden. Sadly before the book was opened Aunt Ena had passed on. Her engine had worn out
Letter to Kenneth Scott on receipt of his mother’s memoirs ‘Some of My Memories’ (private print)
Sunday 15th September 2002
I was touched, cheered and brought to tears by your mother’s story. She was truly a woman of gentleness and compassion.
Nothing could be more right than celebrating her wonderful life, for she was that rare gem – someone who enthralled in living.
How lucky I was to share a few short years with her and then mostly by pen.
Now I have lost two very dear ‘Mrs Scotts’ – my grandmother and your mother. On the 23rd, Sian and I will raise a toast to ‘dear Aunt Ena.’
Warm love to you and your growing family.
Beautiful Old Age
It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfilment.
The wrinkled smile of completeness that follows a life
lived undaunted and unsoured with accepted lies
they would ripen like apples, and be scented like pippins
in their old age.
Soothing, old people should be, like apples
when one is tired of love.
Fragrant like yellowing leaves, and dim with the soft
stillness and satisfaction of autumn.
And a girl should say:
It must be wonderful to live and grow old.
Look at my mother, how rich and still she is! –
And a young man should think: By Jove
my father has faced all weathers, but it’s been a life!