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Australia & New Zealand


Fetternear House, Aberdeenshire, is located about a mile to the northwest of Kemnay to the southeast of Bennachie. It is little more than four miles directly south of Balquhain, as the crow flies. Fetternear was an ancient Barony belonging to the See of Aberdeen. In 1109 a collegiate church was erected there with a foundation for the support of a warder or dean and canons.

The House of Aquahorties, an imposing structure to the north of Fetternear, now in private ownership and in beautiful condition, was formerly a seminary and part of this religious complex. In 1550, William Gordon, Bishop of Aberdeen, leased the barony and shire of Fetternear and other properties to John Leslie, 8th Baron of Balquhain, for farming and other agricultural purpose. For his services in protecting William Gordon, Bishop of Aberdeen, and preventing the destruction and vandalization of the Cathedral at Aberdeen by the Reformers, in June 1566, the Bishop gave William Leslie, 9th Baron of Balquhain, Sheriff of Aberdeenshire, the Barony of Fetternear and all buildings and structures thereon, as well as numerous other lands. The Bishop's Charter was confirmed by a Royal Charter in May 1602 and by a Papal Charter, 1670, to Alexander Abercrombie, to whom the lands had been pledged to secure a loan, presumably obtained by the Leslies. Subsequently the Barony of Fetternear was redeemed by Patrick, Count Leslie in 1691. Since then Fetternear remained in the possession of the Barons of Balquhain until recent years.

While Fetternear became the chief residence of the Balquhain Leslies, it never lost its identity as Fetternear House. An accidental fire destroyed Fetternear House in the early 1920s. It seems that a maid unwittingly put hot ashes from a fireplace into a wooden bucket, which she left standing, in or near the kitchen. During the night the coals ignited and the resulting fire raged through the Palace. Innumerable valuable family possessions, including those pertaining to Mary Queen of Scots, were lost; the silver service was reduced to globs of metal. The old Chapel was sold for reconstruction at another location. However there is today a small Chapel and Rectory on the property serving the local Roman Catholic parish. Fetternear House and grounds [the mains of Fetternear] were recently owned by a Miss Elizabeth Berry and a Mrs C.S. Smith. Mrs Smith, I believe is a descendant of one of the Leslies who resided in France and before World War II returned to live in England. The family apparently were great horse lovers and track enthusiasts. Miss Berry and her friend, Miss Chetwynd were living in what was once the laundry, which had been made into a very attractive residence for the family to live in after the fire. The property was sold after Miss Berry's death in the late 1980s. The following link will take you to the archeological restoration under progress.

Please click here: Fetternear and the Scottish Episcopal Palaces Project
Courtesy Clan Leslie Charitable Trust. The Griffin Reprints, First Series No 2.