Letter from William Henry Fotheringham to
Elizabeth Fea - Chapel at Stove, Sanday

A letter from a relative, William Henry Fotheringham to Elizabeth Fea, the wife of David Erskine, describes the state of the private chapel at Stove. It should be remembered that Elizabeth's father died in 1796 with the remaining unmarried sisters moving back to Airy in Stronsay. Elizabeth Fea died in 1827.

Monday night


Before leaving Kirkwall you requested me in case of visiting Stove to remark in what state the Chapel there was, and to get a drawing of the arms over the gate of Stove taken by one of my sisters. Mr Thomas Traill and I rode to Stove yesterday and having seen both the objects to which you directed my notice it has seemed to me better to write you now then to trust it to unfaithful recollection.

The chapel which formed the burying place of the Feas is in an entirely ruinous state, the walls being mostly level with or within one or two feet of the ground and where highest they do not rise above five. The field in which it is, is enclosed but the chapel itself is without any kind of fence round it to prevent the cattle from pasturing in it or otherwise to preserve the burial place from contamination. The walls appeared as if part of them had been recently torn off from them and I am afraid from the dilapidation which has been made and seems now to be taking place, the intention is to remove every vestage of the chapel, destroying its very remembrance and convert its site into pasture. I am perhaps wrong in imputing an intention to destroy the remembrance of the chapel as that would suppose orders for this disgraceful business to have been given by the proprietor and my idea of Mr Laing will not allow me to suppose that he knows what his servants are doing.

Leaving the Chapel we passed along the shore by the House of Stove. Over the gate, I observed a freestone on which was carved the Ltin inscription given in Neil's Tour through Orkney. Below was what appeared to me to be a shield with arms but so defaced by the weather, and covered with moss, that had I not been previously informed, I should not have known, not that the arms were there, for they were perfectly undistinguishable (at least they were to me surveying on horseback) but what I saw delineated was a shield. On top of the wall, a little to the west side of this stone, and fixed into it, are what I took to be three separate stones cut in the shapes of a man on horseback, a thistle in the middle, and the westmost what I suppose to be a lion whose head was broken off and in the air - A lion rampant I dare say the heralds would tell us. There were also in the wall two round holes, each hole cut in a freestone, and had Stove been built in times of war and disturbance, I should have supposed intended for firing musketary on assailants. This is all that occurs to me at present but should you desire any further information, I shall do everything in my power to procure it. I request my compliments to Mr and Dr Erskine and remain

With much esteem
Your obedt servt

     W H Fotheringhame