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The Perseverance of Leithers - From Port to Castle

In keeping with their new found wealth and his position as Provost (a title gained in 1845), Thomas Hutchison (Isobel’s grandfather), set about finding a country residence, closer to his business interests in Leith than the existing family home in Perthshire. He purchased the Carlowrie Estate and commissioned David Rhind to build his dream (Rhind was a renowned local architect responsible for many prestigious commercial buildings in Edinburgh, including The Dome). The plans specified that only the finest materials and craftsmen be used and the total bill for construction was £33,000, equivalent to around £4.25 million today.

Sadly, Thomas died before Carlowrie Castle could be completed, leaving his eldest son Robert to finish the work. Robert was a respected academic and member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, but he had no interest in the family wine business. Without the wisdom of his younger brother Thomas (Isobel’s father), the family fortune would have been lost. From the brink of disaster Thomas Hutchison proved to be so good at his job, that he was able to retire by the time Isobel was born, devoting himself fully to family life.

The Port of Leith remained crucial to the Hutchisons business for importing and exporting wines across Great Britain and the world. No doubt the tales of foreign lands inspired Isobel to explore, but the death of her father was the first in a series of blows which would test her perseverance.

Leith Coat of Arms - Persevere (Links House, Leith)

Her experience as an explorer was fraught with setbacks (both related to the pressures of society and the risks and challenges of the places she travelled to), yet Isobel’s story wouldn’t be nearly as enthralling without it. Our lives are a product of all the generations gone before us and acknowledging the part her grandfather and then father had to play, gives us insight into the history of this remarkable woman.


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The North Star Explorer

Learn more about Isobel’s passion for the natural world, her experience of travelling to remote places and her encounters expressed through art and creative writing.

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