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In 1844, Cluny Macpherson, Chief of the Clan Macpherson, who at that time owned the land at Ardverikie, became short of money and let the estate on a long lease to the Duke of Abercorn. When the Duke's finances began to fail, he was forced to sell the lease to Sir Henry Bentinck in 1860 and it later passed on to Sir John William Ramsden in 1867 - who at the time owned the Alvie and Glenfeshie Estates.

The lease had a clause allowing Ramsden to spend large amounts of money on the improvement of the Estate, repayable by Cluny at the end of the term. This condition proved impossible for Cluny to honour and on his death the ownership passed to Sir John.

Ownership was now extended and developed by the purchase of a number of surrounding estates including Braeroy, Glen Shira, Sherramore, Benalder and Strathmashie. However it was not until Cluny died that Sir John William Ramsden was able to purchase Aberarder (1914) from Nicholls Cluny's nephew who put it on the market, as he did not want to live there.

The holding was by then 40,0000 acres and over a twenty year period lodges were built on the different estates. Over a million trees were planted annually for 15 years, 40 miles of road built 45 miles of deer fencing and 35 miles of sheep fencing erected. This involved the employment of 180 men at a time when the Highlands were in a period of terrible depression.

It was because of Abercorn's connection with Prince Albert as his Groom of the Stole, that Queen Victoria came to stay at Ardverikie for a month in August 1847.

The original house - in which Queen Victoria stayed, was burnt down in 1871, and Sir John immediately made plans to replace it with the forerunner to the present house.

The design was by John Rhind of Inverness using granite handcrafted by local men. The hall was decorated with pictures by Landseer.

On October 15, 1873, as the final work was being completed the majority of the house burnt down again due to hot coals being left in a fire bucket in one of the bedrooms.

Plans for the rebuild began immediately, incorporating an oak Library bought from the Duke of Sussex at Kensington Palace and a set of carved panels to replace the Landseer paintings which had all been destroyed. The plan for the house was somewhat enlarged and the work was completed in 1877, the house remaining in that form today.

At that time the front drive was a rough track running from the Front Gate bridge, itself originally a ferry, and the carriages and horses for the house were kept on the North side of the loch, where the remains of the stables can still be seen today. Passengers and luggage were ferried across by long boat.

Another very significant development carried out by Sir John William Ramsden was the installation of a water turbine electricity generator with a pipe laid from Loch an Earbha to Ardverikie in 1907 to provide electricity to the house and the surrounding cottages..

In 1914, Sir John William Ramsden died and the Estate was inherited by his son Sir John (Frechville) Ramsden (JFR).

During JFR's tenure there was a period of consolidation. The rent received from letting the other estates did not cover the costs of maintenance, and with the impact of very high taxation the various lodges and estates were gradually sold off so that by the time of his death in 1958 only the central part of the estate remained, Ardverikie, Aberarder and Moy

During this time he was on occasion forced to let Ardverikie and the sporting on the rest of the land to defray estate expenses. When the house was let in the summer months, the family would move to Moy. During the war his daughter Lady Feilden lived at Ardverikie, and when the then factor died, she took over the running of the estate until a replacement could be found

Before his death in 1958 and to avoid heavy taxation Sir John (Frechville) Ramsden, was advised to form a family company for the benefit of his grandchildren under the chairmanship of his son Sir William Pennington Ramsden, who had taken over the administration of the estate in JFR's old age.

1958 a Family Company was formed under Sir William Pennington Ramsden's chairmanship with two thirds of the shares held by Sir William's family and one third by his sister, Lady Feilden's family

This company still runs successfully today with members of the family as directors. The Estate is managed by a full time Factor, An Executive Committee of directors which meets every six weeks to review progress.

The success of the estate in the latter years was very much due to Geordie Chalmer who was the resident Factor for thirty years from 1965 during which period a number of significant developments took place.

In particular with the slump in timber prices in 1986 it became clear that there was a shortage of income and to correct this land at Aberarder Farm and the grouse moors at Dalwhinnie were sold and the money used to modernize and upgrade the water turbine system mentioned above, to a capacity of One MW with the ability to sell electricity into the Grid, thus providing important additional income. This came at a crucial time for the estate, which up until then had relied on timber as its main source of income.

Sir William Pennington Ramsden died in 1987 and the chairmanship passed to his daughter Phyllida Gordon Duff Pennington.

The estate continues to be run as a sporting estate with a careful eye to trends in the market. The policy of the company is as far as possible to support local employment in the area.

The family is totally committed to the success of the estate.

 

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