On today’s episode, the Duchess meets the incredible Catherine Maxwell Stuart, the first Lady Laird of Traquair. Catherine and the Duchess speak at length about the royal history of Traquair, the tale behind the famous ‘closed gates’, we hear the stories of the other extraordinary women of Traquair, and Catherine educates the Duchess on the most important feature of a Scottish home: A watchtower.
Have you ever watched Bridgerton, The Crown or Downton Abbey and wondered what it's really like to be a Duchess? If so, this is the podcast for you.
“Running an estate has been a journey of learning but I wouldn’t have swapped any of it.” - The Duchess
“I love the idea of old houses being alive. That they don’t come across like a museum. They should be vibrant. Lived in.” - Catherine Maxwell Stuart
“You’re just a custodian. You’re a blip in the castle’s history.” - Catherine Maxwell Stuart
“It’s a little bit of magic to appreciate our culture and heritage in living houses.” - Catherine Maxwell Stuart
“People want to support the local house on the hill because there is a great sense of ownership with you.”- The Duchess
About the Guest and Stately Home:
Catherine Maxwell Stuart was born to Peter Maxwell Stuart, the 20th Laird of Traquair, in 1964. Catherine met her husband, Mark Muller Stuart, human rights lawyer, at the London School of Economics in the 1980s. The couple raise their three children together, Isabella, Louis and Charlotte, at Traquair House and Catherine has run the estate, and the Traquair brewery, since 1999. She is the first lady Laird of Traquair.
Traquair House has remained the most enduring stately homes in the whole of the UK. It is not known when the exact foundations of the house were laid but a substantial structure must have existed by 1107 when Alexander 1 of Scotland signed a royal charter at Traquair. As a result, Traquair is the oldest continually inhabited property in Scotland. Also at Traquair a charter still exists, signed in 1175, that authorised William the Lion to open a Bishop’s Burgh and hold a market on Thursdays. This market would grow into the Glasgow Fair. Overall, 27 Kings and Queens have stayed at Traquair, and the estate continues to attract tens of thousands of visitors annually. With her husband Mark, Catherine began the ‘Beyond Borders’, an event aimed at bringing together internationally renowned experts and leaders to talk and exchange ideas. There’s a maze at the estate, a cafe, a luxury B&B and the estate is also available for weddings and corporate events.
About the Host:
Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.