As anyone who has taken a tour of will know, Bowhill is home to a collection of international significance.
It includes major works of art, miniatures, furniture, silverware, porcelein and tapestries that have been painted, crafted and produced by the greatest names in their fields.
They hang, stand and sit sweetly in display cabinets in room after room after room.
But for all their importance and grandeur, where would they be without the walking encyclopedias that bring Bowhill’s fabulous displays to life for the thousands that visit every year.
It is fitting then, that in this Explore the Borders feature, we take the opportunity to pay tribute to the team of treasures better known as the Bowhill guides.
Team stalwarts such as Margaret Inglis, who would do brilliantly on Mastermind with Bowhill as her specialist subject.
Margaret is a ‘braw lass’ – it means she comes from Galashiels down the road and is a local reference from the Borders Common Ridings – and you couldn’t wish for a more knowledgable or entertaining guide to Bowhill.
She’s been doing the tour for 18 years and what she doesn’t know about the Dukes of Buccleuch and Bowhill isn’t worth knowing.
At the grand age of 83 Margaret knows every one of the aristocratic faces that adorn the walls of Bowhill and will share her personal favourites with you – she especially warms to Winter – Lady Caroline Scott by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
She’s particularly fond of the masterpieces that are on show in the Italian Room that include works by Francesco Guardi (1712-93), Michele Marieschi (c 1740), Antonio Joli (1700-77) and Giovanni Paolo Pannini’s interior of the Pantheon (signed 1770), which she’s visited personally three times.
“It’s just such a special place and I really feel very fortunate to be part of the experience of Bowhill. I love every minute of being a guide here,” says Margaret as she steers you towards a silver candelabrum telling the story of the family name Buccleuch.
“It is 13.5stone of solid silver and was made by Robert Garrard of London in 1830 at a cost of £3,641,” she adds before heading in the direction Canaletto’s ‘Whitehall’ circa 1747.
Magnificence merges comfortably with family life at Bowhill and favourite photographs stand alongside masterpieces. It is, after all a family home and this year, for the first time, visitors will be able to visit the Library where members of the family relax.
And if you have the pleasure of Margaret to show you round please give her my regards.
Bowhill House tours daily, every half hour, from June 27 to August 31 from 1pm – 3.30pm.
Extended house tour 11.30am.
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