The ‘war’ of the Rosie and Lily

Charles Stewart, who gave Shambellie House to the nation in 1977, was an avid collector of costume which he often used as inspiration for his drawings and book illustrations. In 1954 he purchased an articulated female figure which he was able to pose and which helped him with his studies of drapery. Charles named her Rosie and would often photograph and paint her in different historic costumes, as in the image here.

In 1960 Charles invested in another figure which he named Lily. Unfortunately, Lily was in bad shape, at some point losing her papier-mâché head and having it replaced with the head of a man!! Charles eventually repaired her, but decided her traumatic past had changed her personality and she didn’t get on with Rosie. This didn’t end well, when one day Rosie ended up in the river at New Abbey and allegedly it was Lily who had pushed her in!!

If you want to find out more about Rosie’s colourful past, this and other intriguing stories will form part of the new Mostly Ghostly tour which has been commissioned for Shambellie. The tour launch is on 18 August, but in the meantime if you have any stories of New Abbey or Shambellie which you would like to pass on, we would love to hear them. Please get in touch with

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