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Ancestors of Aden House laird donate original house key to exhibition

Pictured (from left) are Lucy Hodgson, mum Diana Russell and son Alec Russell. Nine year old Finn Carden from Kininmonth Primary School holds a key the family donated to the museum.
Pictured (from left) are Lucy Hodgson, mum Diana Russell and son Alec Russell. Nine year old Finn Carden from Kininmonth Primary School holds a key the family donated to the museum.

Descendants of the last laird of Aden House have visited an exhibition detailing the lives of their ancestors – donating the original key to the building as they did so.

All that remains within Aden Country Park are the walls of the mansion, but the history of the property is being showcased at the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum.

It has an exclusive display of photographs, items and letters from the Russell family who owned the estate from 1758.

The eighth and last Laird of Aden was Sidney Russell who, after having four children, left the property in 1937.

His youngest son James was with the family when they moved to Dorset.

James, who died a few years ago, had married Diana and had three children – Alec, Caroline and Lucy.

Mrs Russell, who now lives in east Kent, visited the museum yesterday to see the family’s collection of oil paintings and photographs on display.

She said: “James brought me to Aden in the 1960s. We had married in the January and visited in the summer. I thought it looked very spooky as no one had lived in it for years.

“The army used Aden during the war but since my father-in-law sold it, it hadn’t been lived in.

“Seeing all of the things here together is lovely. It’s an amazing exhibition.”

Accompanied by Alec and Lucy Hodgson, Mrs Russell donated further items to the display, including medals that once belonged to Sidney Russell and the large metal key to Aden House.

Mrs Hodgson said: “I remember our father treasured that key.

“When we had hiccups he would either give us a slap on the back or lay that big heavy key on our neck and the shock from the cold metal was enough to make them stop.

“It’s special to us.”

Pupils from Kininmonth Primary School met the family as they were shown round the museum and took the time to ask questions about the house’s history.

Alec Russell told them: “Looking at the state of the house, it’s hard to imagine it’s not been years since someone last lived there – it’s 80 years since my grandfather decided to leave it.

“Our father was only two when he left, so hadn’t many memories, but my grandfather wrote poems and plays about it.

“I’m sure if my father was still alive he would love to see all of this.”

Museum development coordinator Fiona Clark was delighted to meet the family, welcoming their donations and show them the exhibit.

She said: “It has been really special to have the family here as Diana and her children were what came from them moving to Dorset following the 200 year period of the Russells being here.

“Thanks to the family we have the first ever exhibit on display of the people who last lived in Aden and we’ve got the travel trunk which belonged to Alec and Lucy’s uncle.

“I have loved having them here and am so grateful for the loan of the belongings.”

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