A Kinrowan Estate story: Venison Stew (A Letter to Tessa)


A letter from the journal of Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Head Gardener here in the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria to her friend, who was staying in Constantinople as of this letter. Alex, as she was known, copied her personal correspondence into her Journal. She noted in her will that her letters were to be part of the Estate Library upon her death. She would live to well over a hundred, even longer than Her Queen would!


Dear Tessa,

It’s now starting to get seriously cold here and we’ve enjoyed the heating in Kinrowan Hall as it’s been below freezing overnight for the past fortnight. I’ve pulled my long woolen skirts and sweaters out of storage and am glad that there’s not much that needs doing outside this time of year that I can’t delegate to Estate staff. As I get older, I’m very much appreciating that our Steward convinced our bankers in Edinburgh that a central hot water heating system was needed. It’s certainly nice to be warm in the winter. 

Fitting for the weather, Cook decided a few days ago that a venison stew and sourdough rolls would be a good repast for the communitarian supper we have on Fridays here. Fortunately we had some venison that was aged just right after hanging outside for several days, so I had the lads take a haunch off it and deliver it to him for use in the stew.

Cook noted that was a particularly good Fall season for venison, as the previous winter had been mild and the summer fattened them up nicely and you want meat well marbeled with fat, which was also the case with the pigs we let forage in the acorns dropped by our ancient oaks. My staff has had some very long days slaughtering the latter and getting the meat either preserved in a brine or, as is our preferred manner, twice smoked before hanging in the dry, cool cellars beneath Kinrowan Hall.

Potatoes, carrots, onions, dried mushrooms, juniper berries, and a generous measure of red wine went into the large stew pot yesterday so that the stew would have a chance to get its full flavour. It certainly smelled good when one passed the Kitchen and it tasted even better! Fresh pressed cider and hot gingerbread for dessert were all else served and it was quite sufficient.

Now I’m off to The Pub to sit by the fire and listen to the musicians play while I work on another sweater. The wool was from the North Country farm whose daughter Catriona is a Library Apprentice here. We traded some of our metheglin, Welsh style mead,  for it. It’s lovely wool indeed!

Affectionally yours, Alex


About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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