Knowsie House

The place of living and losing we occupy from omphalos on Vimeo.

This film visits the ruin of Knowsie House, Lonmay, in North East Scotland.

The visit just happened to be on the 13th October 2013, a day that a Finnish Group of academics designated as “Failure Day”.

I visited Knowsie House ruin after hearing about it from a dear friend. My friend’s father had visited Knowsie often as a child, when the house was splendid and its park equally so. The boy, Bill Harrowes, used to get on a train from Glasgow and travel to Aberdeen and then change trains for Lonmay. The Lonmay station is not far from Knowsie and Bill Harrowes would walk up the tree-lined drive to Knowsie to visit his grandfather.

Bill Harrowes later studied medicine and was the last doctor at Mavisbank, outside Edinburgh.

Knowsie House was bought by William MacConnachie (1848-1932) in 1898. MacConnachie started in business in 1870 as shipbrokers and herring merchants, on Quarry Road, Fraserburgh, which grew to be one of the largest herring exporters in Scotland. He subsequently became Provost of Fraserburgh. William MacConnachie was noted for his “frank, gentlemanly, and kindly manner” and was “loved by his community” because he was “ready to hear the story of every afflicted citizen”

This film explores passing time from a child who has grown old and revisits a place that he loved.

All the words in this film come from the memoir “Leaving Alexandria” by Richard Holloway. This is a wonderful book that focusses on Holloway’s uncertainty, recognition of failings and his need to be as honest as he can be about such.

It is a book – in fact the only book I have ever read – that has made me cry twice.

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