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A Gift of Time
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Publication Date
07 May 2013
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited

A Gift of Time

by Flora Maxwell Stuart - Find out more about the author

Flora Maxwell Stuart has devoted nearly half of her life to looking after Traquair, the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. This mantle of responsibility fell on her through her marriage to Peter, the twentieth laird. She was born into a distinguished and eccentric family,­ her father, a Protestant, became the first principal of the London School of Economics; her mother, a recusant Catholic, had a passion for farming which she pursued even in the confines of Kensington. It was a creative milieu she moved in, privileged, intelligent and intellectual ­ the Pakenhams shared her parents’ house during the war.

The main part of the book concentrates on Flora’s years at Traquair. In 1962, her husband Peter inherits this romantic Scottish estate and they leave London life behind. The business of Traquair is all-consuming: if they want to keep the house in the family they must turn around their fortunes and they try innovative schemes: opening the house to the public; reconstituting the brewery; the now-famous annual craft fair; weddings; the maze; film location facilities.

And then the laird dies. For Flora it is a profound blow: her life companion in triumph and adversity gone. But life doesn’t stop. Their daughter Catherine proves more than capable of taking on Traquair. She marries and baby Isobel is born but Catherine too is suddenly and tragically widowed. But there is a joyful ending. Flora and Catherine are both happily remarried. A Gift of Time gives a rare insight into Flora Maxwell Stuart’s humanity, energy, inventiveness and courage and now with her film-maker husband, she starts off on a new life of adventure.


Flora Maxwell Stuart is also the author of Lady Nithsdale and the Jacobites. Her family is one of the best known in The Borders and Traquair is one of Scotland’s most famous stately homes.