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Digital Subscriptions > Arran Banner > 28th October 2017 > ‘The old were once very young’ Lady Jean

‘The old were once very young’ Lady Jean

Obituary: Lady Jean Fforde

November 7, 1920, to October 13, 2017

Lady Jean photographed at Strabane on her 90th birthday.
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Lady Jean Fforde may not have been born on Arran but it is here, above all places in the world, that she had connections, and where Lady Jean was held in the dearest affection by the people of this island. And the island of Arran was undoubtedly the place closest to her heart. Lady Jean’s birth, like the birth of her other older siblings Angus and Mary, took place in Edinburgh on November 7, 1920.

Her brother Ronald was to be the only baby to have been born in Brodick Castle in hundreds of years in 1912.

However, Jean Sybil Violet Graham, youngest child to the Duke and Duchess of Montrose, spent a considerable part of her formative years growing up on the island. Having homes at both Buchanan Castle, near Drymen, and Brodick Castle, the Montrose family spent approximately six months of each year at each residence – spring and summer at Brodick and autumn and winter at Buchanan. Most people will think that it must have a very cosseted life.

However, in reality from a very early age the routine for Lady Jean was pretty rigorous, certainly by modern standards.

From May 15 until September 30 each year, there was compulsory bathing in the sea below the castle, followed by a vigorous drying with a rough towel to bring back circulation to frozen limbs – and neither weather nor sea-conditions made one iota of difference to that routine. No doubt it was ‘character building’ and meant to be ‘good for the health’.

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