The Programme for 2018

All regular meetings are held in the Schoolroom at Innerpeffray Library.
Light refreshments are served from 7.00 pm. Talks commence at 7.30 pm.

It helps us enormously if we know in advance how many people will attend each event. We would be grateful if you would kindly register your intention to attend
one or more of our meetings on the Registration and Payments page. If you know you will be bringing one or more guests please enter the number of guests as well.
Thank you.

Details of previous meetings this season can be viewed by scrolling down this page

9th December 3.00 pm   Carols at Innerpeffray  

Festive cheer in the historic St Mary's chapel of Innerpeffray
The carol concert at Innerpeffray Chapel is an unmissable start to the Christmas season. In 2017 the chapel resounded to the lusty singing of an enthusiastic audience and the superb Innerpeffray Singers, ably led by Joan Taylor, and promises to do so again this year. As well as traditional carols the choir will perform less familiar items to add musical interest to this traditional Christmas festival.

We are obliged to restrict numbers for this event so please reserve your seats early. You can pre-book on the Registration and Payments page of the website.
Past Meetings
Details of the meetings from previous seasons are shown below

2018 Season
11th April   Annual General Meeting
FOIL AGM minutes
The 2018 Annual General Meeting of FOIL was held in the schoolroom at the library before the first talk of the 2018 season.

Minutes of the 2017 AGM may be viewed by clicking the icon opposite.

The 2017 Accounts may be viewed by clicking on the icon opposite.
FOIL Accounts
The Annual General Meeting of FOIL marked the start of its Silver Anniversary year. At the AGM Kim Liddiard was appointed the new Convenor to lead the organisation as it looks forward to its next twenty five years. She is seen here presenting the outgoing Convenor, Peter Parke, with a commemorative rose bowl at a reception held in the library to mark the event.

11th April   Jill Dye: The Library of Innerpeffray through its People 1680 -1855

The 25th Anniversary season of the Friends of Innerpeffray Library was launched by Jill Dye who gave the Ted Powell Memorial Lecture to a packed schoolroom
Jill is a third-year PhD Student undertaking an Applied Research Collaboration with the Universities of Stirling and Dundee and the Library of Innerpeffray this has been funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities.  Her PhD research focuses on borrowing from the Library of Innerpeffray from its founding until 1855.  
The history of the Library and its unique status is well known; through her research Jill has been able to use statistics and information contained in the Library and its books which help her  build up a picture of the borrowers from the Library’s conception. Much is owed to two very remarkable men, Lord Madertie and Robert Hay Drummond. Madertie, lived in Innerpeffray Castle and around 1680 decided to put his books into the Chapel where they would benefit young students. Remarkably 90% of the books donated by Madertie were written in English, not the usual French and Latin which made up the majority of books of libraries owned by people of his social standing. This implies that even in the early days Innerpeffray Library was there for ordinary people. Consulting the books would have been difficult as the original location within the Chapel was very small and many of the books would have been very large indeed.
This problem was solved in 1740 when Robert Hay Drummond inherited the Innerpeffray estate. He has a vision of a room full of natural light where he could read and meet with friends, rather like the gentlemen’s clubs which were to be found in London and Edinburgh. The Club did not materialise but the Library in its present form was established and thrived.
Jill told stories of some of the early borrowers, one, Andrew Maxtone was especially prolific, possibly because he was keen to prove himself a worthy candidate to the Kirk Session at Fowlis Wester when they were appointing a new minister. He failed at the first attempt but perseverance and a lot more borrowing ensured success some ten years later.
After the talk a reception was held in the Library for former committee members of FOIL to celebrate the 25 years.

9th May    Elizabeth Wein:  The Long Way Home - Becoming a Scottish Writer

On May 9th, the Friends of Innerpeffray Library were delighted to welcome American / British author Elizabeth Wein as she shared her story of becoming a Scottish writer. Originally a reluctant immigrant to Scotland, top of Elizabeth’s list of demands as the mother of small children were a tumble drier and a sun replacement lamp. However, she soon fell under the spell of our lovely country thanks in part to her love of flying small planes. This passion is evident in her most well known book, “Code Name Verity”, a young adult novel set during WWII. Nowadays, long after the two years the family planned to stay in Scotland, Elizabeth has fully embraced her adopted country and her surroundings inevitably find their way into her work - the audience were particularly pleased to learn that her latest book “The Pearl Thief”, the prequel to “Code Name Verity”, features Innerpeffray Library. Many thanks to Elizabeth for an entertaining evening. 

14th June   Val McDermid:  Killing People for Fun and Profit

In June we were privileged to welcome Val McDermid to the atmospheric 16th century chapel where she led a capacity audience through the story of her journey to world renowned crime writer. She began her life of crime early when, having exhausted the Children’s section of Kirkcaldy Library, she convinced the librarian that her mother was bedridden so that she could gain access to the adult section using her mother’s library card! Her first foray into novel writing resulted in a minor hit as a play but when further success as a playwright proved elusive, Val turned her attention to crime writing. These were just a handful of the many entertaining stories that the author shared about her formative years as a writer and her sources of inspiration. Many thanks to Val for taking the time to visit Innerpeffray in this Silver Anniversary year for FOIL.
Val is shown here enraptured by a 1st edition of ‘Treasure Island’ in the Library.

11th July   Libby Joy:  Beatrix Potter in Scotland

In July our speaker Libby Joy explored Beatrix Potter’s love of Perthshire which led to her passion for the natural sciences, her drawings, paintings and writings and eventually her conservation and preservation of the pastoral environment. Emulating the erstwhile borrowers of Innerpeffray Library in past times, the audience travelled by foot, by bicycle and by car – one lady driving from Lanarkshire.

Beatrix (1866 – 1943) was brought up in Kensington. To escape the smog, her first 15 summers were spent at estates near Dunkeld and Birnam, and especially Dalguise on the River Tay. The family were artistic, interested in nature and enjoyed the countryside and her father was a keen amateur photographer.
Beatrix and her brother Bertram roamed free in the local countryside, resulting in her careful botanical drawings and paintings of flora, especially fungi, fauna and entomological specimens. Beatrix kept a Journal of thoughts, sketches and observations, written entirely in her own code, and deciphered in 1958.
Beatrix’s scientific passion by the 1890s was mycology – the study of fungi. One summer at Dunkeld, she met Charles McIntosh, a well known, but shy, naturalist and amateur mycologist who inspired her, helping her find rare examples to draw. Beatrix gave her 300 scientific drawings of fungi to the Armitt Museum in Ambleside. The Perth Museum and Art Gallery has a collection of her fungi paintings, donated by Charles McIntosh.
Libby Joy and Lara Haggerty in the schoolroom
Beatrix submitted a paper on fungi reproduction to the Linnaean Society in 1897. However, being a woman, was not allowed to read it herself and it was read out by a man. In 1997, 100 years later, the Linnaean Society issued a posthumous apology for her treatment. Could Beatrix have become a second Darwin?
One of her governesses was Annie Moore. Beatrix would write ‘picture letters’ to Annie’s children including little drawings of Perthshire scenery reproduced from her own paintings. Against these backgrounds she created her now famous animal characters, all drawn from life but influenced by the people she had met in Scotland. Hence Mrs Tiggiwinkle had lots of petticoats, just like the cook where they were staying, while Mr McGregor in the Peter Rabbit story bore an uncanny resemblance to Charles McIntosh! It was Annie who suggested that Beatrix made these picture letters into little books.
In 1887, the Potters rented Wray Castle near Lake Windermere where Beatrix fell in love with the hills, valleys and lakes near the village of Sawrey ‘as near a perfect place as I have lived’ quoted Libby. By now she was earning her own money and in 1905 bought nearby Hill Top Farm, eventually marrying the local solicitor William Heelis. However, it was her Perthshire paintings which became the backgrounds for the characters in her books.
She bred Herdwick sheep to championship standards and in 1943 was elected the first female president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association. She used the latest scientific remedies for exterminating liver fluke, but did not electrify her own house. When Beatrix died in 1943, she left 15 farms covering 4,000 acres to the National Trust which now constitutes the Lake District National Park.

8th August   Rita Bradd:   The Final Voyage of Clipper Ship City of Adelaide (1864)

The remarkable story of one woman’s obsession and how far she was prepared to go to see it through was the subject of the August talk. Poet Rita Bradd’s passion for tall ships led her to HMS Carrick, a dilapidated old wreck of a 19th century clipper ship which was slowly disintegrating at the Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine. However, this particular clipper, the oldest surviving clipper in the world, has a fascinating history having started life as a migrant ship called City of Adelaide. When she was scheduled for demolition, the city of Adelaide in Australia won the bid to save her and arrangements were made for her to be transported across the globe on a massive cargo ship, MV Palanpur.
Rita Bradd
Rita had been following the fate of the ship and applied for permission for accompany her on her final voyage. Thus began an intrepid 22,000 km, 10 week journey to see the ship safely delivered to her new home. Thanks to her extensive research, Rita was lucky enough to source a copy of a diary written on the ship’s maiden voyage and she has written a parallel diary of her own to commemorate this momentous trip. Rita’s talk links back to last year’s FOIL talk and exhibition about the Scottish Diaspora tapestry which featured this  panel which depicted The City of Adelaide in her heyday.
Panel AU27 of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry showing the City of Adelaide. This was stitched by Roseary McKay and was part of the display at Morrisons Academy in 2017. Read more at:

12th September  
Dr Paul Philippou and Roben Antoniewicz:  
Perthshire - a wellspring of Early Photography

In 1839, the world woke up to the amazing new invention of photography. This revolutionary medium created a gold rush of eager practitioners. Victorian Perthshire, in common with most areas of Britain, produced its own adepts of what was called the ‘Black Art’. Roben Antoniewicz and Dr Paul S. Philippou,  the authors of The Early Photographers of Perthshire offered a glimpse of the contribution made by these photographers and make the case that Perthshire, though not the birthplace of Scottish photography, produced several pre-eminent early photographers amongst whom are included: David Octavius Hill, ‘one of the finest calotypists in photographic history’; Jessie Mann and Lady Kinnaird, ‘rivals for the accolade of Scotland’s first female photographer’; ‘outstanding local photographer’ Magnus Jackson; and Hugh Lyon Playfair who helped to make St Andrews the ‘Headquarters of the Calotype’.
Pictured above  is the cover of The Early Photographers of Perthshire published by Tippermuir Books in 2016.
Lady Eastlake, a well-known Victorian art critic and art historian, wrote in The Quarterly Review in 1856 “Photography made but slow way in England; and the first knowledge even of her existence came back to this country from across the Border. It was in Edinburgh, where the first earnest, professional practice of this art began, and the calotypes of Messrs. Hill and Adamson remain to this day the most picturesque specimens of the new discovery."
This portrait of Elizabeth Rigby, the future Lady Eastlake was taken in 1847 by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson

30th September   Chansons: Autumn Serenade

Chansons, Perth Chamber Choir, dazzled the audience on Sunday afternoon with their Autumn Serenade. A fund raising concert organised by the Friends of Innerpeffray Library, the audience gathered at Innerpeffray Chapel under beautiful blue skies, autumnal branches and skeins of geese flying overhead.
The 26 strong choir, dressed impeccably in red and black, launched straight into a fabulous part song of Country Gardens by Percy Grainger. This was the first of many sublime pieces chosen by conductor Howard Duthie to showcase the enviable variety and versatility of all the voices, with Gordon Much providing a versatile and sympathetic accompaniment.  The lyrical, floating sopranos in Shearing’s ‘Who is Sylvia’ led on to a secular first half including works by English composers Finzi, Rutter and Scottish composers Ken Johnston and Tom Cunningham, the latter setting poems by Alexander McCall Smith to music. All periods of musical history were reflected from madrigals to jazz and styles ranged from syncopation staccato to lyrical legato, especially in the rapturous ‘Like a Singing Bird’ by Christina Rosetti set to music by Bob Chilcott. The choir’s rich and warm tones filled the little chapel with a perfect balance across the voices with the audience enraptured with the diction, clarity and dynamics of the fascinating programme.
The second half began with a sacred selection of music including Rheinberg and Faure with Chansons’ powerful singing of Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s ‘Northern Lights’ in Latin. This contrasted with two stunning solos by Carol Osborne and Jillian Balfour who sang arias from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado and Pirates of Penzance respectively. Following  two uplifting and rhythmic songs by Gershwin, Joan Taylor, secretary of Friends of Innerpeffray Library gave the vote of thanks, praising Chanson’s wonderful concert and the enormous contribution given by Howard Duthie and Gordon Much to make it so successful.
Following a fitting autumnal encore of ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ both audience and choir emerged into the gorgeous Strathearn landscape excitedly talking about the beautiful uplifting concert they had just witnessed.

10th October   Alex Nye:   The Art of the Ghost Story

With the nights drawing in close to Halloween, Alex Nye came to talk to the Friends of Innerpeffray Library about ‘The Art of the Ghost Story’. Having been one of the top ten W H Smith Young Writers' Award winners out of 33,000 entrants at the age of 16, Alex had gone on to write ghost stories for children, teenagers and adults, gaining many prizes for her books.
This evening, Alex explained the research and historical analysis which had gone into her latest book ‘For My Sins’ which was based on Mary, Queen of Scots’ last night on earth at Fotheringay Castle.
Alex Nye
The novel’s concept is a journal, written by Mary as she faces execution the following morning, and the ghosts of Mary’s life appear and show the influence they have had over her life and decisions. Overlaid over Alex’s talk was the importance of historical accuracy and how Scottish history, real or imagined, can inspire and enthuse writing to bring characters to life.

The author referred to the houses she had lived in across Scotland and how their settings had helped her create an imaginative atmosphere, mystery and suspense in her creative writing and nurtured her writing journey.

There then followed a lively discussion with the audience covering the Casket Letters, John Knox, the Babington Plot, the relationship between Mary and her second and third husbands, Darnley and Bothwell and the morals of witchcraft in the 16th century compared to the prison system today.

You can ‘meet’ Alex on her website or click on the book cover to take you straight there.

2017 Season
12th April   Annual General Meeting
The 2017 Annual General Meeting of FOIL was held in the schoolroom at the library before the first talk of the 2017 season.

Minutes of the 2016 AGM are available for download clicking on the icon opposite.

A copy of the 2016 accounts as independently reviewed may be downloaded by clicking on the icon opposite.
FOIL AGM minutes (draft)
FOIL Accounts
12th April   Alison Martin: Sculpting the Past
As the last surviving member of a remarkable family, Alison Martin could not disguise her pride and passion in the history of her forebears as she addressed the members of FOIL on 12th April. Her great grandfather founded his business George Sutherland &Sons, Sculptors in 1881 and over three generations the skilled craftsmen and their workforce created carvings which can still be seen on buildings, headstones and war memorials throughout the Scottish Borders.
The latter is particularly poignant. Alison’s uncle was killed aged 24 during the Second World War and her talk took place on the centenary of her great uncle’s loss during the Great War. Alison was not alone in having a tear in her eye and a lump in her throat as she recalled these moving stories. It was fascinating to hear that she remembers polishing headstones with cuttlefish bones when visiting for the summer. This little detail made the account so personal and immediate.
Happily, the handsome Post Office building in Galashiels – a wonderful example of the craftsmanship of the Sutherlands – is to be the new home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland and Alison hopes to be able to create an exhibition in the Post Office so that the memory of George Sutherland and Sons lives on.
10th May   Peter Nurick:  V&A Dundee - Creating Scotland's Design Museum
The exciting and prestigious development of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee was the subject of an engaging and enthusiastic talk by Peter Nurick at Innerpeffray Library on 10th May. As the Communities Producer, Peter is one of a team tasked with spreading the word about this, the first purpose-built design museum in the country outside London. The museum's prominent position beside Discovery Point is the flagship of the transformation of Dundee's Waterfront - the 3rd largest urban regeneration project in the UK. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the building's unique form was inspired by the striations of Scottish cliffs.
Opening to the public in 2018, V&A Dundee will house a permanent exhibition of Scotland's design history and its future potential as well as welcoming prominent global touring exhibitions.

One of the star exhibits will be the restored Oak Room designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the Ingram Street Tearoom in Glasgow.
In advance of the opening there will be a programme of pre-opening events and activities. Peter was keen to stress that the intention is for the museum to be an active part of the community by encouraging education and skills development and by showcasing young design talent.

See also

14th June   Dr. Joseph Morrow:  The Court of the Lord Lyon
In June FOIL members were treated to a very entertaining talk by Dr Joseph Morrow, the current Lord Lyon King of Arms. This role, one of the Great Offices of State, dates back to at least the 14th Century and the incumbent is responsible for overseeing all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms. Dr Morrow’s lifelong passion for heraldry was clear to see as he guided the audience into deciphering the symbolism used to read the history of several Coats of Arms.
Although the practice of heraldry has a long and illustrious history, Dr Morrow was keen to point out that the custom persists – one of his responsibilities is to judge whether a new Coat of Arms can be granted and recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland which contains an official copy of every Coat of Arms granted in Scotland since 1672.  Another is to prosecute individuals and organisations using unauthorised Arms.  The audience were amused to hear that the Lord Lyon also has the right to expunge the Arms of individuals who have fallen into disrepute.

Dr Morrow also demonstrated that many of the clubs and societies established by Scots throughout the world also have Scottish Coats of Arms which created an excellent link to the FOIL talk on 19th July about the Diaspora Tapestry which will be on display in at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff.
19th July   Sharon Beck: The Diaspora Tapestry - in 'Crieff Remembers'
In July Crieff is holding an ambitious programme of events to mark 100 years since the 3rd Battle of Ypres: Passchendaele. As part of this programme Crieff has on display the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, a large embroidery 164 metres in length, crafted from 305 panels that were embroidered in 35 countries.
Diaspora: the scattering of a people away from their ancestral homeland to places around the globe.
This remarkable craft project was brought to life on 19th July by Sharon Beck in front of a packed schoolroom at Innerpeffray. FOIL members were treated to an explanation of how the Tapestry came about, how it developed, and the physical process of creating it in communities from 35 countries around the world. Fascinatingly illustrated by a slideshow of various individual panels, Sharon also led the audience through various stories of how Scots groups and individuals influenced the history, politics and personal lives of settlements in far-flung places. She recounted the story of two Italian towns’ rival campaigns to be the “most Scottish Italian town” and how in Poland long ago, parents elicited good behaviour from their children with the threat, “or the Scots will come for you...”

Sharon finished off the talk by asking for questions, all of which she answered knowledgably, and the strong applause was a measure of how much she was appreciated. Illustrated discussing the Tapestry are Sharon Beck of the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust and Joan Taylor, FOIL Secretary.

Images from the Diaspora at Innerpeffray
It is said that “every picture tells a story” and nowhere is this more true than in the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, on display in Crieff in July and August 2017.  Behind each panel is a chain of events that has brought together people from around the world with a common Scottish heritage.  The panel displayed in this photograph is of the City of Adelaide, depicting the oldest surviving clipper ship that made 23 voyages between 1864 and 1887 to Australia and back carrying migrants from Britain and northern Europe to a new life on a distant Continent.  It is thought that 240,000 Australians are descended from the City of Adelaide’s passengers.
Pictured from left to right are: Trevor Powell, past President of the Port Adelaide Caledonian Society, Rosemary McKay, Rita Bradd, author and poet from Dunbar and Des Ross, Honorary Piper for City of Adelaide.  Rosemary McKay emigrated to Australia from Scotland over fifty years ago.  Rosemary organised the embroidery in Adelaide of five of the final tally of 305 panels, including stitching the City of Adelaide panel herself.  She organised the exhibition of The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry in Burnside, Adelaide, for which she won the Community Award of the Year, 2016, now presented to the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry organisation in East Lothian.
In a remarkable venture the City of Adelaide made her final voyage to Australia on a heavy-lift cargo ship.  She can be seen in the background of the photograph on a barge that is her temporary home whilst a permanent site is prepared for her.  She was accompanied on this voyage by Rita Bradd who chronicled the voyage, and brought back with her on her return to Scotland three of the five panels embroidered in Adelaide and which are on display in Crieff at this moment.
The Friends of Innerpeffray were honoured to have both Rosemary McKay and Rita Bradd present at the talk on the tapestry given by Sharon Beck on 19th July.  At the end of the talk Rita presented her poem ‘Diaspora’ that was inspired by the remarkable artistry, stories and beautiful stitching in the panels.  It was first published on the Scots Language website in 2015 and is included in a pamphlet The Herring Trail which is to be launched at the Callander Poetry Weekend on 1 September.  It is reproduced here by kind permission of Rita Bradd.

Thare’s somethin i the blude
that maks us trickle awa 
frae these bonnie shores
an spatter oorsels aroon this globe;
nae Continent bides unmarked
by oor footfa
Asia, Antarctica. Hot, cauld.
We focht oor wey tae them aa
i braw brigs an square-riggers mastered
by kin glidin ower wile watters or sma,
frae the likes o Ulva tae Australia
followin compass an stars jist so
we coud airt oot places
whaur we micht sling oor anchors
an tie up wi sweeng-raips,
set doon an spread an thread
oor wey frae the hert o Alba;
endlang brigs we biggit
an hiegates we laid doon 
an sheucht wi tarmacadam i time
an i the mills
blae an reid, yellae an green
an gowd an siller birl
an unendin thraw

flaucht oor lifes fer aye
intae the tartan tapestry that’s oor warld.

Rita Bradd
9th August   Dr. Sally-Anne Huxtable: The Drama of The Soul - The Art and
                            Design of Phoebe Anna Traquair at National Museums Scotland
FOIL's August talk was by Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable of the National Museum of Scotland, pictured here with Seona Anderson visiting the Library before her talk. She spoke with obvious enthusiasm about the art and design of Phoebe Anna Traquair. Originally from Ireland, Phoebe's marriage brought her to Edinburgh where, despite the prevailing attitude to women artists, she produced a body of work almost as astounding for its range as for its quality. Alongside the large scale murals she created for buildings like the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, she also produced illustrated manuscripts and exquisite enamelled jewellery. In 1920, she became the first woman to receive honorary membership of the Royal Scottish Academy. The National Museum holds the world's largest collection of her work, including a beautiful painted piano.

13th September: Sophie Younger - The Art and Science of Textile Conservation
An early passion for needlework and fabrics drove Dr Sophie Younger into the world of textile conservation, as she explained to FOIL members on 13th September. Beginning her career working at the Burrell Collection she has had the privilege of visiting many of the historic buildings in Scotland to reverse the ravages that light, dust, pests, fire and flood have wrought on furniture, carpets, tapestries and costumes. Her work is meticulous combining detailed scientific analysis with imaginative techniques and fine needlework to restore fabrics and halt further deterioration. Her work on Mary Queen of Scots’ bed hangings in Holyrood Palace included 200 hours painstaking work on the valance alone.
She has a state of the art workshop in Meikleour where much conservation work is done but Sophie also enjoys challenges such as large wall hangings that have to be treated in situ. At Murthly Castle she was obliged to apply her art suspended 7m above ground! She was involved in restoration work after a disastrous flood at the Glasgow City Chambers and also after the fire at the Glasgow School of Art.
FOIL members appreciated greatly her eloquent exposition of the complex requirements of conservation combining science and craftsmanship to preserve some of Scotland’s most prized possessions.

Following the talk some members visited Sophie's studio in Meikleour to see some of her work in practice.

Further details of Sophie's work may be found at

7th October: Perth Farmers' Market
We had a very successful morning at the Perth Farmers Market on Saturday 7th October. Joan Taylor, Gil Martin and Peter Parke manned the stall and spoke to a lot of visitors to the market about the library, which generated a good level of interest. As you will see from the attached photo we were blessed with sunshine for much of the time (after a chilly start). The team sold 74 Summer Quiz sheets generating £148 income for FOIL and we also sold £88 worth of library merchandise.
11th October:  Nicola Cowmeadow: Simply a Jacobite Woman? The Life
                                                        Experience of Margaret, Lady Nairne
The life of Margaret, Lady Nairne, shines a light on the tensions that split the noble families of Scotland at the time of the Act of Union in 1707 and in the subsequent uprisings of 1715 and 1745. Lady Nairne was a competent estate administrator who cultivated a broad network of family and political connections in order to further her family’s interests at a time of immense upheaval. Much of her life was spent in the locality of Strathearn, which adds particular local interest.
In her talk, Dr Nicola Cowmeadow, a recent graduate of History at the University of Dundee, will present the important part played by Lady Nairne in rousing support for the Jacobite risings of both 1715 and 1745, drawing on letters and papers to examine the experiences of Lady Nairne and other Jacobite women during and after the risings.

Dr Cowmeadow, who was awarded her PhD in History by the University of Dundee in 2012, is currently employed as the Local History Officer for Perth and Kinross working in Local and Family History at AK Bell Library, Perth.   A Carnegie Scholar, her doctoral thesis was on the theme of ‘Scottish Noblewomen, the Family and Scottish politics, 1688-1707’ (2012) and it is her ongoing interest in women in history which continues to influence her writing and presenting.

15th October:  Open Day to Present Details of the Planned Interpretive Walk
                                     and Improvements to the Schoolroom.
Those who attended the AGM in April will recall the presentation given by Jim Grant and the Chairman of Governors, Martyn Wade, about the planned Interpretive Walk and improvement of facilities in the schoolroom. The presentation was well received but lacked detail. Since April members of your committee have worked closely with the governors to develop the ideas and to assess the practical implications for FOIL.
The proposal for the Interpretive Walk includes:
  •  creation of a footpath down through the wood below the chapel, parallel to the route of an ancient Roman road, to the river Earn where there will be a seating area and meeting space
  • erection of informative display panels describing the historical significance of the site.
In a parallel development it is intended to upgrade the facilities in the schoolroom to meet modern expectations of a meeting venue. The schoolroom itself will not be touched so the character of the building will remain. However, the area behind the schoolroom which currently comprises a rather basic toilet and store room will be replaced by a completely new structure. This structure will be more than twice the size of the current facilities and will house:
  • a well-equipped servery that will enable hot or cold food to be served; it will have the potential to be fully equipped as a kitchen where food may also be prepared if this is required in the future
  • an internally accessed properly equipped accessible toilet
  • a large, dry storage room accessed externally
  • a ramp that will permit wheelchair access at the front of the schoolroom in place of the current steps.

These improvements are being made not only to benefit existing users of the schoolroom such as FOIL but also to offer better, modern facilities to visitors to the site, and further to enable Innerpeffray to be used as a venue for meetings and small conferences in a unique location.

The plans continue to evolve. An application for planning consent for the schoolroom improvements have been submitted to the local authority and initial applications for grant funding have been prepared. We will keep the site updated with developments as they unfold.

10th December:  Carols at Innerpeffray
The annual ‘Carols by Candlelight’ concert by the Friends of Innerpeffray Library was held on the classically frosty and sparkling afternoon of Sunday 10th December. Winter sunlight through the tiny windows of St Mary’s Chapel added to flickering candlelight to give the setting an ethereal and timeless atmosphere. Plenty of blankets were provided to keep the assembled company snug as they enjoyed the programme of Carols and Readings.  Directed by Joan Taylor, the concert had a delightful balance of traditional favourites for the audience to share and some less familiar but equally charming carols performed by the excellent Innerpeffray Singers and accompanied by Howard Duthie. The readings were similarly varied, unusual and thought-provoking and each of them was delivered with poise and feeling. Welcome refreshments were served before and after the concert in the schoolroom whilst access to the event was made easy by the use of a shuttle bus.  The occasion was a very fitting end to another excellent season of talks and events for FOIL.

2016 Season
13th April   Annual General Meeting
The 2016 Annual General Meeting of FOIL was held in the schoolroom at the library before the first talk of the 2016 season.

Minutes of the 2016 AGM will be available for download as soon as they have been approved.

A copy of the 2015 accounts may be downloaded by clicking on the icon opposite.
FOIL Accounts

13th April   Sam MacDonald, Artist and Angler
Muthill-based artist Sam MacDonald enthralled FOIL members with an illustrated talk about how he had managed to combine the two passions in his life – angling and art. Born on the island of Lewis, he was influenced from an early age by nature. He learned welding and blacksmithing at college. When he moved to Orkney and started fishing again he started to blend the two skills, but trying to keep the fish ‘alive’. His work involves building metal sculptures in which each fish is hammered individually and then fitted into the swirling shoals that characterise his work.
While diving off Orkney he observed fish in their own natural habitat and also in wrecks. He began experimenting with different techniques of colouring metal to match what he observed in the submarine world.
Sam is passionate about conservation. His work “Memento Mori” represents species of fish that have either died out or are on the endangered list. Another work “The End of the Line” illustrates a blue fin tuna, the global population of which has been reduced by 96% due to overfishing. In his sculptures he aims to capture special moments in nature and thereby stimulate interest in both nature and conservation.

11th May   John Donaldson: The Royal Palace of Stirling - A Grand Design
In May the storytelling carver John Donaldson brought his humour and historic know how to the Library school room as he described his role in producing the ‘Stirling Heads’; metre wide oak medallions that grace the ceiling of the Kings Inner Hall in Stirling Castle; the originals of which are of such artistic importance they are sometimes called Scotland's other crown jewels. It took John five years to produce accurate copies of 33 roundels; two from drawings one from a fragment of wood and to design a brand new one.
The original heads were made from Polish oak in 1538 from barrel staves that were carved and painted to depict kings, queens nobles and characters from the bible and classical mythology.
John introduced a good turnout of FOIL members to cryptic clues in each carving, how he managed to carve his daughters' faces into the roof of Stirling Castle and his interpretation of what the heads symbolise. Everyone who heard John speak will definitely visit these beautifully painted and carved replicas that have been reproduced with such care.
John is pictured before his talk in the school room garden with FOIL committee member Kim Liddiard.

See also:

4th June   Strathinver - Written by FOIL member Robin Bell

FOIL promoted this special event, all proceeds of which were kindly donated by the author and Crieff Drama Group to Innerpeffray library.

30 years ago Strathinver won the Sony Radio Academy Award for Best British Documentary. Written by FOIL member Robin Bell, Strathinver is a portrayal of small-town life in Scotland in the 1940s and 50s. Although a work of fiction, many in the audience will have recognised Strathinver as Strathearn. The dramatised poem depicted townspeople and country folk, shopkeepers and farmers, the professionally qualified and the clergy, the ‘county set’ and the schoolchildren.

8th June   Wojtek the Soldier Bear - a Polish War Hero
Aileen Orr, author of “Wojtek the Bear – Polish War Hero”, recounted the exploits of the famous bear during WWII. Originally bought by a group of Polish soldiers as a mascot from some Iranian boys, the bear developed from cuddly infant to 500lb giant. Serving in the war alongside his soldier colleagues, most famously at Monte Cassino, Wojtek believed himself to be one of them. Resettled after the war with Polish troops at Winfield camp in Berwickshire he helped to forge a strong bond between the Polish soldiers and the local Scottish community. He was subsequently rehoused in Edinburgh zoo where he became a celebrity attracting thousands of visitors until his death in 1963. Aileen Orr is pictured  with Keeper of Books, Lara Haggerty, examining the chapter on ‘beares’ in “The Historie of Foure Footed Beastes” by Edward Topsell, printed in London in 1607.

To see more about Wojtek paste the following link into your browser:

August 2016 - A busy month for FOIL!
On 6th August at the Perth Farmers Market we had a stand promoting the Library and FOIL, which generated a considerable amount of interest. Among those visiting the stand were a grandson of the Librarian in the 1950s and a librarian from Fairfax, Alaska. Manning the stand were FOIL members Kim and Mark Liddiard, Beth McDowall and Peter Parke. We also sold 124 copies of the FOIL Summer Quiz! – largely due to the honey-tongued sales patter of Beth.
The following day we hosted the cake stall at the Drummond Castle Fête. We are most grateful to members for the generous donations of cakes, tarts and other pastries. Despite the windy gusts that threatened to blow away anything not pegged down the stand was constantly busy and we sold almost every item generating over £500 in funds for the Library. Our core sales team included Convenor Jo Ann Munro, Helene Mauchlen, Kim Liddiard and Beth McDowall. Also promoting material from the Library was Robin Bell.

At the regular talk On Wednesday 10 August FOIL members were given a rare and privileged insight into the world of the master craftsman when Graham Stewart came to Innerpeffray library to talk about his life and work as a gold and silversmith. Based in Dunblane, Graham and his small team of highly skilled craftsmen have been producing beautiful unique commemorative pieces, fine functional silver and smaller jewellery items for over forty years. His works have included a commemorative mace for the Pope’s visit to Edinburgh in 2010 and a replica gold post box made for fellow Dunblane resident Andy Murray after his Olympic gold medal win in 2012. Pictured here with Lara Haggerty, in preparing for the talk Graham had spent many hours at Innerpeffray library researching techniques of ore extraction, smelting and processing precious metals in earlier times. Even he had been surprised at how little basic techniques had changed in centuries.

14th September   Plague: Art and the Ultimate Calamity
"1 person in 6 in Dies in Perth Catastrophe"
Had the Strathearn Herald been published in 1585 this is probably what the headlines would have said, as bubonic plague swept through the town. This and similar grim statistics from other parts of Europe formed part of the talk by Dr James Grant MBE in his talk entitled “Art and the Ultimate Calamity”. Dr Grant told the meeting how the bubonic plague has afflicted the population of Europe regularly since the first recorded outbreak in Rome in 540; the last recorded outbreak in Scotland was in Glasgow as recently as 1900. Illustrating how the afflictions of the plague have been represented in art over 700 years, Dr Grant revealed that modern studies had identified that the depiction of catastrophic events had a cathartic effect on survivors. This not only helps to understand the role of plague art in history but is also relevant to the modern day where art is used to assist survivors to recover from post-traumatic stress.

12th October : The Branch Lines of Strathearn
To coincide with the Drovers Tryst programme of events John Young, author of the award-winning book “Branch Lines of Strathearn”, visited FOIL to talk about the impact of the coming of the railways on the local community 160 years ago. Growing up in Auchterarder, John was bitten by the railway bug at an early age and between then and now acquired an encyclopaedic knowledge of the five branch lines that were opened in Strathearn in Victorian times. Crieff, promoted as the ‘Montpelier of Scotland’, was a popular tourist destination and tickets to Crieff could be bought from as far away as Liverpool or London. In 1889 there were 187 boarding houses in Crieff. In the late 1800s there were on average 50 trains per day through Crieff and on one occasion four trains brought 3000 passengers to Crieff on a single day. Despite this high passenger traffic the Caledonian Railway Company’s main income was from the carriage of goods and livestock. As a ‘common carrier’ it carried everything from day-old chicks and racing pigeons to cattle, sheep and horses – even circus elephants on one occasion.  During WWI and WWII the railways were used for troop movements. There was a stores depot at Balgowan and the Gleneagles Hotel was requisitioned as a hospital with its own private line from Gleneagles station for the transportation of injured servicemen.
As the popularity of the motor car grew so the railways declined and what remained of the branch lines of Strathearn were finally axed by Dr Beeching in the 1960s. The last train left Crieff station for Perth on 12th September 1967.

October : The Summer Quiz Answers
The Summer Quiz that was introduced this year proved to be hugely popular. Many people - both FOIL members and non-members - bought a copy and obviously spent a lot of time scratching their heads over the puzzle. Most people thought most of the answers were easy but a relatively small proportion of the entrants managed to get them all.

We have been asked to provide a set of correct answers so here it is! Just click on the picture opposite and download the answer sheet.

Thanks to everyone who took part!

December:  The End of the 2016 Season - Candlelit Carols at Innerpeffray
Under the direction of Joan Taylor  ‘The Innerpeffray Singers’ returned to the unique setting of St Mary’s Chapel on the afternoon  of Sunday December 11 to present a beautiful programme of carols, readings and audience participation accompanied by Gordon Murch.
This Friends of Innerpeffray fundraiser ( FOIL - in aid of the library) comprising an hour of beautiful singing, atmospheric music with  festive and  nostalgic spoken pieces reflecting the finer feelings of Christmas followed by mulled wine and mince pies was the perfect end to the 2016 season.
FOIL would like to thank everyone who supported us in 2016 and we look forward to seeing you at our events in 2017.