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At some point I learnd -- I do not remember what the source of the information was -- that the then Baron of Earlshall sold Earlshall Castle in 1996 to a German, Berndt Kirsten, due to ill health problems at that time. Kirsten, in turn, sold it to a Dutch man, Paul Veenhuijzen, about 2-3 years later.
Anje Post wrote me that there was a documentary about Paul Veenhuijzen on Dutch TV on 3 December 2000. Unfortunately I missed this documentary, so I cannot tell precisely what Veenhuijzen has been saying. Anje Post wrote that Veenhuijzen said he inherited Earlshall from a greatgrandmother and according to him, he and his wive now are the Baron and Baroness of Earlshall. But this is not completely true. Paul Veenhuijzen's greatgrandmother does come from Scotland, but from Sutherland and not from Fife. And he has not inherited anything from her. As said above, the family bought the Earlshall and are living there out of their own free choice.
Apparently, the word "laird" was used in the documentary, but that just is a word for a Scottish landowner: it is a sort-of social title which gives no legal rights whatsoever. And the people in Leuchars do not use the title; they call the owners by their names: Paul and Josine.
There was some confusion as to the right (or possibility) to use the title "Baron & Baroness or Earlshall", and it appears that I had it wrong at my web pages for some time. In an email AH_WSM_Day explained clearly what the title "Baron" and "Baroness" mean in Scotland:
"Baron & Baroness" in Scotland is not a hereditory title, like an Earl or a Baronet etc. It is in England, where a baron can call himself Lord (whatever), but not in Scotland, where Baron refers to a property that was "erected into a free barony by crown charter". So you are a baron in Scotland if you own a barony, and the title goes with the property. So if the current owners of Earlshall sell, and you buy the property, you will be Baron of Earlshall!
So the owners that had the property when your guide book was written were the Baron and Baroness of Earlshall. And Berndt Kirsten and his wife (if he had one) were Baron and Baroness of Earlshall, and Paul Veenhuijzen and his wife (if he has one) are Baron and Baroness of Earlshall.
The other thing is that while some people in Scotland call themselves Baron-of-this and Baron-of-that and Baron of Earlshall etc, it is considered bad form to do so, because it makes it sound as if you are pretending to be a member of the peerage (similar to an English Lord). So while the owner IS the Baron of Earlshall, it is not polite to CALL himself Baron of Earlshall.
Here follows the piece about the documentary my TV-guide had, as well as a my translation of it into English.
Jaren geleden bezocht Rik Felderhof voor een van zijn eerste reeksen van De Stoel de eigenzinnige majoor Paul Veenhuijzen. De militair woonde toen nog in Het Gooi. Veenhuijzens leven bestond toen al uit Bentley's, uniformen en een kanon. Dat doet het nog steeds, maar nu in een andere omgeving. Majoor Paul verhuisde naar een kasteel in Schotland, samen met zijn vrouw Josine en hun drie dochters. Hij leidt Felderhof rond in zijn kasteel en door de tuinen. Ooit was Veenhuijzen scheepsbouwer in Afrika en parttime soldaat, met een voorkeur voor kogelbiefstuk, zoals hijzelf olijk opmerkt.
Self-willed major *
Years ago Rik Felderhof visited for one of his first series of The Chair the wilful major Paul Veenhuijzen. The military man then still lived in Het Gooi [=an area in The Netherlands]. Veenhuijzen's life then already consisted of Bentley's, uniforms and a cannon. It still does, but now in a different surrounding. Major Paul moved to a castle in Scotland, together with his wife Josine and their three daughters. He guides Felderhof around in his castle and through the gardens. Veenhuijzen was once a ship-builder in Africa and parttime soldier, with a preference for "bullet-steak"(**), as he remarks roguish.
|uit: Mikro-gids van 3 dec. 2000 (pag. 22)||
*) or perhaps: "Wilful major"|
**) = literal translation of the Dutch word for a steak of the thigh
The piece is inacurate where it says that the three daughters live at Earlshall: all three actually live in The Netherlands.
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