When you venture through Haddo Country Park, look for a seat on a rocky outcrop commemorating Philip Kemble, the actor, who would retire to the peace and quiet of the outdoors to learn his lines while staying at Haddo with the 4th Earl of Aberdeen 200 years ago. The surroundings are recorded in the beautiful landscape paintings by James Giles, an Aberdeen artist, who worked closely with the 4th Earl in the 1840s. The piano in the drawing room was a gift from the 4th Earl to his daughter in law, Mary Baillie, an accomplished musician who knew all the old Scottish songs and ballads by heart. Watercolours by Ishbel, 1st Marchioness of Aberdeen, hang in the morning room. She and Johnny, ‘We Twa’, built the chapel which has the lovely Fr Willis organ and the Hall for local gatherings and community events.
Then of course June Gordon and her husband David, later 4th Marquess of Aberdeen, created the Haddo House Choral & Operatic Society in 1946, encouraging those who lived in the area to sing and to perform, along with guests from further afield and many eminent musicians and composers, among whom were Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. There were summer plays too, with the Haddo Players producing a Shakespeare play one year and perhaps Oscar Wilde another. My first visit to Haddo, long before I was married, a schoolgirl in fact, was coming to see Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. What fun it was.
Haddo has long been associated with art, culture and music, and remains a very special place, unique in terms of what it has to offer, with a rich legacy of artistic excellence and an exciting festival programme for today. Haddo is a place for people to enjoy and it continues to offer a warm welcome to all.