This fine and rambling Highland lodge, with its origins in the late Georgian era, was the home of the Davy family for over a century.
George Baynton Davy (1838-1907) was from Nottinghamshire, England and moved to Scotland after his marriage to Martha MacKay, the daughter of a local lawyer from Fort William. George had inherited money from his father, who had worked in South America organising the extraction of guano (bird droppings). Once the guano was collected it was then exported to Europe for use in the lucrative fertiliser industry.
The couple’s six children were raised and received their early education in Spean Lodge. Lila, the eldest daughter, kept a daily diary which provides a fascinating insight into the life of the late 19th century household. In 1887 the Lodge supported fourteen serving staff, including a butler, cook, governess, coachman, gamekeeper, gardeners and numerous housemaids.
The family had an active social and religious life and the Lodge played host to many guests. Hunting – especially deer stalking – and fishing were popular pursuits in the hills and rivers of Lochaber. There was never a shortage of game and salmon in the house larders. Winter saw the family enjoying ice skating and curling matches on the many frozen ponds and burns.
It was a leisured and privileged life. George, however, had deep moral convictions and was generous with both his time and money. A great local benefactor, he funded the building of St. Andrew’s Church and Choir School in Fort William.
Guests are welcome to read published extracts from Lila’s diary. They also include an account of her distinguished military service in France and Belgium during the First World War.
The Lodge was originally constructed c.1800 and extended around 1840 and again in 1878. The house retains many Victorian features including working window shutters, slate and marble fireplaces, decorative plaster work, panelled doors, a fine iron balustrade on the main staircase and original sash windows.
A professional gardener from Kew in London was employed to landscape the grounds in the mid 19th century. Two acres of the original gardens remain, containing specimen trees like the giant redwoods and a large collection of rhododendron and azaleas. The Davy family and their house guests played a range of summer sports on the spacious lawns, including tennis, cricket and bowls.
There’s a mass of spring colour provided by the rhododendron while in autumn the trees glow with russet and golden brown foliage.