The First Half

Jonny Schmidt Edinburgh, Scotland


July 15, 2016
By Jonny S., Museum Studies Internship Program, Scotland

It was a sad day on Saturday the 9th of July.

The first half of our Scottish program was ending, meaning only three out of the eleven of us would be staying. The three of us would be going to intern at the Hopetoun House, an estate house outside of Edinburgh that serves as the Hope of the wealthy Hope family. The other students who were all part of the Scottish History program were leaving.

It was sad that morning because I had to see friends who I had grown close to leave only after four weeks while I stayed in Scotland. I admit I felt kind of depressed that day, but to get away from the bad feeling I decided to explore other parts of Edinburgh.

I walked over to the Haymarket side of town to visit the Scottish Museum of Modern Art. It was a cool exhibit and on my way I accidentally stopped in a grand church. The organ player was practicing which sounded so good; I sat there listening to it for a while. The area of town I went to had wider streets with Georgian style building, which looked nice. That night I went out to some of the pubs, which made me feel better.

Sunday was pretty uneventful, just getting ready for our first day at Hopetoun. So our first day was the Monday of the 11th, we had to walk over to the bus station in New Town as by bus it takes 40 minutes to get out to the town of Queensferry. From there one of the volunteers at the House would pick us up from there for a short five-minute drive to the estate. On our first day we got to the bus station on time at 9AM, yet we couldn’t find the bus still it had left so we had to wait for the next one. Despite this they did pick us up and we went to the house.

Now the Hopetoun House is a giant mansion surrounded by a giant estate. The house is used by the historic trust, letting tourists visit it throughout the summer. Yet the Earl of Hopetoun, his wife and kids still live in on the left side of the house. This is really cool as it makes the rest of the house still feel like a family home, as you know the family is still living there.

The house isn’t the only attraction as they have a giant ballroom for weddings, a restaurant/deli, a education center, ranger station, shooting range and deer park on the grounds. There is certainly a lot to do as you can even go on the roof. Our first week there is used to serve as an introductory week in which we get accustomed to the whole house. Just the first day was so amazing as I learned a lot more about the history of the family and the house since it was first built in 1699. The staff there was mainly volunteers who were all really nice to talk to and meet.

The inside of the house has tall drawing rooms with huge paintings and tapestries. On our first two days we got to explore the house and grounds learning more about what our research project is supposed to be and such. On Wednesday after working at the house for a little bit we went over to Dalmeny House, which is ten minutes from Hopetoun. It belongs to another noble family and is slightly smaller but still beautiful and overlooks the Forth bay. It has a lot of classic artwork including a lot of stuff from Napoleon. We went here to compare how other houses ran their operations.

While on our way back to our apartment that night, the three of us actually saw a film crew filming Trainspotting 2 in the streets. It was so cool to see the actors run past and we saw it in the paper the next day. On Thursday we got introduced to the archive staff. The archives are located at the top of the house away from everything else and the archivists only work on Thursday. So that day we went up that day and met all the people who were really nice and wanted to help us on our projects. They had a lot of old maps and letters, which was definitely cool to see. Peter, the head archivist, then took us on a tour of the grounds while explaining the history, which was actually a pretty interesting tour.

That night, Rob and I went to an Edinburgh Hibernian Football Match. The stadium was filled with the craziest fans ever who just yelled constantly. It was pretty awesome. The next day, Friday, we met the ranger of the park who was really nice and we went with her to feed the deer actually. After that first week I was still enamored by Hopetoun and all the wonders it held and I was excited to see what I could find. Despite my rocky start on Saturday, I grew used to the situation and was once again enjoying Scotland.

Jonny S.Jonny is a student at Iowa State University and is blogging from his summer abroad with the Museum Studies Internship Program, in Edinburgh, Scotland.