The History of Aswanley
If your surname is Gordon you will almost certainly be descended from Jock or Tam Gordon, sons of Sir John Gordon (d.1394) by Elizabeth Cruickshank of Aswanley.
Around 1640, Aswanley was ‘modernised’ into an L shaped, 2 storey and garret, 2 spiral stair tower house. Lawlessness meant protection was necessary – shot holes, window bars, a well within a high courtyard and a strong arched gateway. The reputed tunnel to the river has still not been found.
The Aswanley Cup:
In the dark of night, May 17th 1452, Hugh Calder, spy, Gordon supporter and kinsman creeps into the back of Earl Beardie’s castle and gleams vital information. As proof of his daring he steals the Earl’s silver drinking cup and carries it to the Gordon leader, the Earl of Huntly. This intelligence leads to the Earl of Huntly winning the Battle of Brechin the next day. Huntly rewarded Calder with the silver drinking vessel with instructions that it was to be kept by him and his successors at Aswanley under penalty of paying double Feu duty for his lands. The Calders and their cup lived on at Aswanley for 300 years. Alexander Calder, (1681-1768) was a drunkard and spendthrift and was lent money by Duff of Braco giving Aswanley lands as security. The treasured cup left Aswanley in exchange for tavern bills.
Sometime after 1745 a party of Jacobite gentlemen returned to hold a meeting in a small inn between Elgin and Forres. Moray, Gordon of Cobairdy, while taking a peat to throw on the fire, saw something glinting in the the bottom of the peat bunker. He pulled out a large, handsome, old cup squashed and flattened. Recognising its rarity, he redemmed it at considerable cost from the inn keeper and had it repaired. There is an inscription in the centre of the lid: ‘Titubantem Firmavit Huntlens – Breechin, Mai 20 1453’ – but in characters apparently of the 17th Century. Perhaps, the cup was a 17th century copy of the original. It was obviously a fine piece of silver, being exhibited in 1856 at the Archeological Society of London, held in Edinburgh. It has also been exhibited in the South Kensington Museum. Subsequently, it was held by the Duke of Hamilton along with the ducal plate. We are presently trying to trace its whereabouts.
George Calder, spendthrift, drunkard, lost his lands to Duff of Braco, who tenanted then to the Smiths 1772 – 1890. In 1883 Duff Estates sold Aswanley to Alexander Geddes, erstwhile of Easter Bodylair, who made his fortune in Chicago and returned to his native parish to build Blairmore. In 1932 John Auton Ingleby purchased Blairmore Estate of which Aswanley and Invermarkie were part of. In 1939 John married Miss Jacobina Campbell, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Campbell of Dalhanna, Ayrshire. A detailed description of their wedding can be found on the Glass Community Website. John & Jacobina lived at Invermarkie and had four children: John, James, Tom and Caroline. After the death of John in 1972, the estate was split up.
In 1975, their third son, Tom, and his wife Pam moved to Aswanley, where they brought up their three children. They transformed the crumbling farm-house into an elegant family home and in 2005 set about restoring the steading as a wedding venue. Pam, a professional picture restorer, has created the gardens and landscape which form the unique backdrop to Aswanley weddings. Sadly, Tom died suddenly in 2008.
However, she remains eternally optimistic. “Never a dull moment! I love the fact that what Tom and I began has been picked up by the next generation and taken in new directions we probably couldn’t imagine”. She takes great pleasure in showing couples around the grounds and seeing them celebrate their day at Aswanley.