Cromarty Archive

Tunnel to Cromarty House

Tunnel to Cromarty House

Date Added: 20 April 2007 Contributor: Duncan Johnston Year: 2007 Picture No: 1874

This long tunnel was the servants entrance to the big house.


Walked down that on a few cold nights. Wasn't so bad in the day but couldn't see a thing at night. Comment left on 23 April 2007 at 00:20 by Gary S.
Hi Duncan,
My late cousin Tom (Thomas Campbell Macdonald) was born 4th December 1914 at The Mains Cromarty. He lived with his mother Elizabeth and grandparents John and Elizabeth MacDonald in one of the Mains Cottages. His grandfather was the ploughman for Lord Ross, he left Cromarty in 1934 aged 20, moving to Stourport on Severn, Worcestershire with my parents Victor and Ina Taylor(nee MacDonald) and sister Emily aged 16 and brother Bill aged 15.
In later years Tom often spoke about the long tunnel to Cromarty House, this is the first time I have seen this tunnel although I knew of it's existence, is the tunnel still there and open?
Comment left on 25 April 2007 at 19:30 by Jean Bell
Gary S, did you work at the big house or what? The tunnel looks real scary to walk down in the dark. Do you have any interesting stories to tell? Comment left on 25 April 2007 at 22:15 by Anon
Hi Anon, to tell the truth I don't have many memories of the time after an accident messed them up. My family lived and look after the house and grounds. I was only a child at the time then we moved into Cromarty itself. I do remember one winter the drains were blocked with ice on the roof and the water was coming in. and as the smallest been held by my dad was put out on the ledge with hot water to melt it, we new kthe water was coming in as it was dripping on my sister's guitar and playing a tune. The tunnel itself didn't scare us as much as we scared ourselves in it. My dad and I also put sandstone steps up to the tunnel from the road not sure how many 4 or 5 I believe but it was fun to do. They may even still be there but I doubt it as they weren’t that good :) Comment left on 27 April 2007 at 02:21 by Gary S.
I ran up the tunnel many times when my grandparents were the caretakers at Cromarty House, I used to close my eyes and run as fast as I could in case I would see the green lady!!! Comment left on 28 April 2007 at 01:10 by Anne MacDonald
Ahh.. The famous green lady, now that has kicked a memory back into play. I do remember the tales and all the years we lived there I never saw her! And I don’t believe any of my family did. Well you never know maybe they did and didn’t say. I always believed she was kept in the cells at the beginning of the tunnel (the road end) and was rather disappointed when I got told they were only storage rooms. Ahh well a boys imagination! What can you do. Comment left on 28 April 2007 at 14:55 by Gary S.
I recall being on an art trip on my last year at Fortrose to the centre in Cromarty and myself and another classmate decided to walk along the tunnel, thinking no one would find/catch us.....daft so and so's we were, can remember this lady shouting down the tunnel and scaring the be-jesus out of us! Serves us right for trespassing I suppose. Comment left on 28 April 2007 at 19:57 by Jane Scott
Hi, to everyone who came up with this Fantastic web page! I often glance through all the lovely stories and It brings back some great memories! I am amazed that we all seem to have the same story about the 'The Green Lady' she has been around forever!! Croms, will almost certainly have these lovely tales to pass on for many more generations!! On Ya the Croms... Comment left on 29 April 2007 at 04:20 by Liz James (nee Shepherd)
Gary S. when did you live at cromarty house? My grandparents where there late 60s early 70s - not only was the tunnel scary the house itself was just as bad. Comment left on 29 April 2007 at 21:32 by Anne MacDonald
Hi Anne, I believe we moved in around 77/78 as I was only about 7 years old at the time. To tell the truth I loved the house from what I remember of it, but didn’t go into the main house much. My parents may have done but I don’t remember sorry. I know my sister views this site from time to time, and she would know better than me. Maybe if she reads this she could give you more information. Not sure what year we moved into Cromarty. Sorry Comment left on 30 April 2007 at 01:23 by Gary S.
Is there any earlier history to the tunnel or was it built to be the servants' entrance? I remember having a look in but I'm sure it was always locked. Never heard of the green lady though. Isn't there an old graveyard just across the road? Was that private? Jane, that was so funny! Comment left on 02 May 2007 at 20:57 by Dorothy Ewen ( Robertson)
Great to see this tunnel again. It brings back fond memories of going to see Granny and Granda when they were caretakers there. I sometimes met my cousin Anne(above) there too. Did Granda take you into the big house itself?. I thought it was brilliant! Comment left on 04 May 2007 at 08:03 by Doline Kilgour
Yes, was round the house many times most impressed by some of it mainly the entrance hall with all the paintings on the staircase, also the large dining room or maybe it was a ballroom with its polished floor. And I also remember a huge four poster bed upstairs in one of the bedrooms. Comment left on 05 May 2007 at 18:43 by Anne MacDonald
I remember this tunnel well! Gary S used to frighten me silly with ghost stories and then make me walk up the tunnel! Doesn't seem so long in the photo! Like Gary says. "The tunnel itself didn't scare us as much as we scared ourselves in it." Comment left on 08 July 2008 at 21:08 by Alli M
I am another neice who was taken by my uncle when he was caretaker in 1968 on a grand tour of Cromarty House. My husband and my uncle climbed up to the attic rooms. I declined and wish now I had. Comment left on 12 October 2013 at 19:36 by Eleanor Dalziel
Can anyone explain... why? Why a servants tunnel? Why was it built? Was it to 'hide' the servants from 'them in the big house'? Would be interested to know. Comment left on 04 November 2015 at 11:10 by Andy Northall
The tunnel was built to take the butcher, baker and servants straight to below stairs without having to go through the front entrance. Comment left on 07 November 2015 at 16:59 by Anonymous
I visited Newhailes House in Musselburgh and there is a Tunnel there. When I mentioned I knew of another Servants Tunnel the guide knew at once it was Cromarty House. I am sure she said they were the only 2 in Scotland. They were built so that guests did not see Trade delivering goods or the house servants going about there chores! Comment left on 08 November 2015 at 17:15 by Catherine Penman (nee Hossack)
What? They didn't have a back door? Comment left on 08 November 2015 at 17:35 by Andy Northall
...also presumably so the laird and his family didn't have their view spoiled by having to see the folk doing all the work that kept them in their luxury.
Comment left on 09 November 2015 at 11:50 by Sheila Currie
It was just a convenient way for the staff from the village to get to the house. Nothing to do with front or back door.

Nothing at all to fo with sneering at servants.

My late uncle was boots there.

You've watched too much Downton Abbey
Comment left on 12 November 2015 at 06:26 by Margaret Tong
When my grandfather was gardener at the Cromarty House Gardens and my father was a teenager, my grandfather used to send him down through the tunnel regularly with a barrow full of vegetables to give out to the fisherfolk there (I suspect, unknown to the Brigadier General and his family, free of charge!). The people who got them always gave him a few pennies in tips. He never forgot their kindness to him, and over the years he often supplied medicine to those same people without charging them when they were ill. He said that sometimes the tips amounted to 6 pence!! Comment left on 26 December 2015 at 17:23 by Campbell Ross
My father Peter Gilmour was boots there as a young person no idea of the dates at all but he was born in 1891 Comment left on 09 January 2016 at 20:10 by George E Gilmour
Saw the tunnel a few days ago for the first time in 30 odd years. Thanks to this thread I now know it was a short cut for staff. Although I wonder why it was covered over, maybe to keep flower beds unbroken. A grand old house in our village has the road around it sunk into the ground allegedly so the Lord of the manor doesn’t have his view spoiled by traffic it’s called the “Ha Ha”. Comment left on 26 May 2021 by Mark Davidson
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