Thursday, January 17, 2008
Sir Archibald Sinclair and Thurso Castle
Inspired by the welcome news that Helena Bonham-Carter has purchased The Wharf at Sutton Courtney, which was once the home of her great grandfather H. H. Asquith, Iain Sharpe offers a survey of the current state of the homes of other Liberal prime ministers.
This brings to mind the extraordinary boyhood home of the Liberal leader Sir Archibald Sinclair (John Thurso's grandfather). My knowledge of it comes from a memory of reading the opening chapter of Gerard J. De Groot's Liberal Crusader: The Life of Sir Archibald Sinclair, though I will admit that it does sound just the sort of thing I would make up.
Indeed Thurso Castle did inspire an entry in Lord Bonkers' diary (see Wednesday). Fortunately, I have just found De Groot's book on Google Books and can be sure that I did not dream it all.
Sinclair was orphaned at an early age and lived at Thurso Castle, the home of his grandfather Sir Tollemache Sinclair. The castle was a gothic pile which had been reconstructed by Sir Tollemache to his own design and was notable for its orchestrion - a sort of mechanical organ which he loved to play.
Thurso Castle was damaged by a sea mine during the second world war and largely demolished in the 1950s as a result. Some claim that it was never particulary structurally sound in the first place.