Countess of Rothes' old home to be restored

Apr 1, 2005
If it is any help i will add what i thought about the interior of the house.
The picture of the hall represents the best of what is left of the interior, the rooms have in a lot of cases been split to provide more rooms for when the house was used as a nursing home, the rooms left intact leave nothing of the history of the house other than the sheer size, there are two staircases both very similar and neither very imposing, they have had rebuilding work done to include fire doors which reduce the impact.
The house has been gutted of all period pieces, door handles to light fittings,there is one period toilet[ broken] on the top floor and a bath on one of the lower floors.
In my opinion there is little if anything to be said for anything in the interior to make it worth saving , there are many houses in better condition surviving in the area.

The one thing that is worth saving is the glasshouse, which does at least appear unaltered and although missing a lot of glass could be repaired[and has to be as part of any planning grant].I believe that the most important point in the case of Leslie house is to find a future for it as soon as possible, repeated attacks by vandals could result in the houses destruction, arson being the greatest risk, there are examples of fires in the gardens and in outbuildings, its location and size makes it unlikely to be bought and turned back into a single house,although it has been looked at.
hotel seems unlikely due to its location ,a museum or art gallery would be a good solution but i think unlikely in that area which really only leaves the present plans.
whilst I would hate to see another historic house go this way, I do agree with what Michael has just said, that its only hope of survival and a possible return to its former glory is to find a use for it now before it is lost forever.
Mar 20, 2000
Thanks to Malcolm for sharing what he found on his visit, and for the photos. Our only disappointment, of course, is that Noelle’s grave wasn’t found. Craig Stringer also looked into the possibility of her being buried at St. Mary’s, Fairford. She isn’t there either, it would seem, although the staff and parishioners are apparently well aware of her story. Craig said that when he called the secretary there she was immediately familiar with the countess, whose memorial plaque is on the west wall of the chancel.

As Malcolm has indicated, Noelle may be in the mausoleum at Leslie which is off limits to the public, but it’s possible she is interred somewhere in Sussex (she died in Howe), where both she and her second husband, Claud Macfie, had relatives and owned property.

Here is a picture of the countess in 1917 during the time she was with the Red Cross, heading a unit of nurses at the Coulter Hospital in London:


(The National Portrait Gallery, London)

And here’s an earlier image —— a news snapshot taken of Noelle with Norman (her first husband) at the Perth Hunt Races in Sept. 1910:


(The Illustrated London News Picture Library)

Senan Molony

Jun 28, 1998
Memorial Service for Mrs Claud Macfie

A memorial service for Mrs Claud Macfie (Nöelle, Countess of Rothes) was held yesterday at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge. [London]
The Rev. D. B. Harris and the Rev. D. C. Grey officiated. Among those present were:- Lieut. Claud Macfie (widower), the Earl of Rothes (son), Lord and Lady Leslie, Mr G. W. and Lady Evelyn Mackworth-Young, Mr Alastair Leslie, Mr W. L. Macfie, Mrs B. R. Osborn, Mr Duncan Sandys MP…

(The Times, Thursday September 20, 1956, p.12)

There is no death notice under any of her various names (Dyer-Edwardes/Leslie/Rothes/Macfie).

Brian Ahern

Dec 19, 2002
Duncan Sandys! Wow. He was married to Diana Churchill, Winston's daughter. He was also rumored to be the "headless man" in that circa 1960's scandal involving that errant Duchess, the exact details of which I don't quite recall and which wouldn't be fit to record here anyway.

Okay, I've hunted up a link to an article. But I warn you the details are pretty lurid:

On a lighter note, I really enjoyed seeing that photo of the Earl and Countess at the races. A striking couple.
Mar 20, 2007
I was thrilled to read Randy's wonderful article about Noelle Rothes. Her story - that of a beautiful young aristocrat showing such heroism in the face of terrible tragedy - has fascinated me for as long as I've been interested in the 'Titanic'. So to read more about the actual woman behind the legend...well, I don't think that Randy's potted biography will ever be bettered. And I was intrigued to see the images of Leslie House in the posts above - obviously a very impressive pile, even in its current unhappy state.

It might interest those following this thread to know more about Noelle's childhood home. Prinknash Park was the Gloucestershire seat of her parents, Thomas and Clementina Dyer Edwardes, who were themselves cross-Channel passengers on the 'Titanic'. For over a century, 'Country Life', the bible of the landed classes here in England, has profiled a different country house each week - a practice which has continued to this day. On 22nd September, 1906, it was the turn of Prinknash. The article, running to five whole pages, gives a detailed history of the house, going all the way back to the fourteenth century. The property has an absolutely idyllic situation: after a visit in August, 1774, the Society wit and gossip Horace Walpole wrote of Prinknash's position on 'a glorious but impracticable hill, in the midst of a little forest of beech, commanding Elysium'.

The magazine ran photographs of the house from various angles - not quite in the same architectural league as Blenheim or Chatsworth, it was still a pile of quite considerable splendour (albeit reduced to a slightly more domestic scale). The interiors were similarly grand and included magnificent Jacobean chimney pieces, as well as mullioned windows and carved oak panelling. After the house became an abbey on the death of Thomas Dyer Edwardes, one entire room was dismantled and carted off to an American museum! I was delighted to learn that Dyer Edwardes constructed a new gateway to the stable-yard to commemorate Noelle's marriage to Lord Rothes - on it, he had carved both his arms and those of the bridegroom. I assume that these can still be seen, although I've never been to Prinknash myself.

I'm afraid I don't possess a scanner to post the images here - and I suspect I would be contravening copyright regulations if I tried. But I would urge anybody who is sufficiently interested to seek out this particular issue of 'Country Life' to read the article for themselves. Nothing better illustrates the prestige of the English landed classes during this period than to see a house like Prinknash in full Edwardian splendour.

And Brian is quite right - judging from their pictures, Lord and Lady Rothes must indeed have cut quite a dash in Society, turning many heads when they entered a ballroom!
Oct 10, 2008
I found this site quite accidentally while doing some genealogy research. Coincidentally I lived in Leslie, Fife for about 3 years leaving about 4 years ago. I lived in what was the, "Kirk on the Green", the church owned by the Church of Scotland situated on Leslie Green which is across from the house main gates. This church was bought by the local housing association and turned into houses and flats. The front door of the church was my front door!

The graveyard is still behind the church but was not used for a long time. The latest headstones were from the thirties from memory. The main feature of the graveyard is the Leslie family Mausoleum. It's somewhat in a state of disrepair as is the graveyard now. Fife Council are in charge of it's care but haven't secured it, merely cutting the grass. Last time I saw it they put up security fencing around the building.

I can confirm that Noelle's husband was buried there. There is a plaque on the right hand side wall displaying the fact. Most of the important Leslie family members are buried there. There are also employees graves all around too.

It's a sad fact that most people in the area have no knowledge of the Leslie family and their history. No mention was made of it at school and I only got interested because of living near it. Incidentally, Leslie House has still not been converted into flats yet. There is some argument about some of the surrounding land being cleared to build new housing. The south end of the land has had some new builds but they are not really on the house grounds. An old estate cottage that was derelict has been fully restored though.

If you want mt to find out more let me know.


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