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Memories of Duff House during World War II

18 February 2011

The magnificent early Georgian mansion Duff House offers a fascinating insight into its dramatic World War II past – when the Adam-designed mansion served as a military base and prisoner of war camp - at a special event next weekend.

During the WWII Weekend on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th February visitors to Duff House will have an opportunity to join historian Allan Burnett on a captivating fact-filled tour of the grand 18th century property.  Allan will talk about its occupation by the military during the conflict, what happened when the house was bombed in July 1940, and what life was like for the German seamen and Luftwaffe pilots who were imprisoned there .

Rachel Kennedy, General Manager of Duff House said: “Many people don’t realise that there was a prisoner of war camp here or that Duff House was actually bombed during the war.  Allan’s tours provide our visitors with a chance to find out more about this remarkable period in the property’s history.  He’s a real expert on the subject; he’s done a great deal of research on Duff House’s wartime past and has written a new book on this story, which is due to be published later this year.  You won’t find a better guide to take you back to the Duff House of the 1940s.”

On behalf of Aberdeenshire Council, Allan led a research project to explore WWII events at Duff House and the surrounding area and interviewed many older people in the community about their memories from this period.  The project was part of national initiative called Their Past Your Future (TPYF) Scotland.  Led by Museums Galleries Scotland and funded by The Big Lottery, TPYF aimed to bring young people and older generations together to capture oral histories on the Second World War and to make these stories – as well as memorabilia such as photographs and letters - available to the public as a valuable online resource.  Historic Scotland supported the project by photographing signs left in the building from Duff House’s military occupation and commissioning a new WWII themed educational activity for schools.

The result of the TPYF initiative is available at the ‘Remembering Scotland at War’ website - .This excellent virtual exhibition can be accessed by school pupils and teachers through Learning and Teaching Scotland’s Scottish schools’ intranet, ‘Glow’ providing an invaluable educational resource.

Rachel added: “Anyone interested in WWII or in local history is in for a real treat at our special event next weekend – but whatever your interests, it will be packed with lots of incredible stories of dramatic events, moving personal tales and a glimpse behind the scenes at the house.  And as the tours are suitable for all ages, our WWII weekend will provide a fascinating but slightly different day out.”

The 45-minute tours start at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm and as spaces are limited on the tours, booking in advance is strongly recommended by calling 01261 818181.  Full price tickets for the event (which includes entry to the house) cost £6.55, with concessions at £5.45 and family tickets at £16.70.  The event is free to Historic Scotland members, Friends of Duff House and Annual Pass Holders.

Notes for Editors
  • Situated in Banff, Duff House is a magnificent early Georgian mansion, commissioned from William Adam in 1735 by William Duff, Lord Braco.  It is now open as an historic house and gallery with permanent displays from the National Galleries of Scotland.  Highlights include art works by El Greco, Gainsborough and Raeburn. The property also houses the Dunimarle Library, a rare collection of over 4,000 volumes, which can be viewed by appointment. There is a tea room and shop as well as a regular programme of exhibitions and events .  Duff House’s opening hours are 11am to 4pm, Thursday to Sunday until 31st March and open daily, 11am to 5pm from 1st April.  Visit for more information or call 01261 818181.

  • Historic Scotland cares for over 345 heritage properties and sites throughout Scotland, ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings. These include some of the country’s leading tourism attractions including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. Visit: . Historic Scotland’s mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information, interviews and images

Ellen Drummond Ferroni
0131 668 8734 / 07801 820757