Dingwall – my ancestral home

Upon arriving in Scotland the town I want to visit as soon as possible is Dingwall. The town my great-grandfather, William Rose Frew, was born in and who emigrated to America from in the 1800’s.

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First stop, St. Clements churchyard to visit my great great grandparents resting place to pay a visit.  (The refurbishing of the stone I did last year seems to be holding quite nicely!)


Thomas M Frew and Christina Rose Family Group

1861 Picture (from left to right):

George Rose Frew, Thomas MacNaughten Frew, Christina Rose Frew, Thomas MacNaughten Frew II, John Rose Frew, and the baby sitting on his mother’s lap is my great-grandfather, William Rose Frew

Secondly, I love just strolling through this quaint town to take in the sights and enjoying its inhabitants.  They are a friendly lot!

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IMG_5149 (Edited)There are yummy looking treats in the shop windows and flowers everywhere!IMG_5152 (Edited)IMG_5153 (Edited)


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A visit to Dingwall always includes a stop at the Museum. The entrance is through the shop on the left with the blue pillars in the photo below. The bulk of the museum is housed in the adjoining building on the right, the council building with the council chambers located on the upper floor just below the clock tower.

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The reception area of the museum used to be a shop owned by my great uncle, James Macdonald Frew.  He was the Chemist (Pharmacist) in Dingwall in the early 1900s and his wife, Williamina, was one of the first women in Scotland to become a Chemist and later ran the Chemists’ shop after James’ death. This part of the museum not only serves as the entrance to the museum but also as the Reception area.

James Macdonald Frew 1867-1900

James Macdonald Frew in his Chemist Shop

Below is a picture of his wife, Williamina Frew (nee MacDonald), standing in the doorway of the shop with her young daughter, Chrystine Rose, and her niece, Jessie Dallas Frew, who married the famous Scottish author, Neil Gunn.Museum - Frews Shop

In St Clements church (where my great great grandparents are buried in the churchyard) there is a stained glass window in the church (below) remembering James & Williamina and their daughter, Chrystine.  Pretty darned special!

St Clements Stained Glass Window

One of my other great grand uncles was John Rose Frew (Lindsay’s great-grandfather). He served as Provost (Mayor) of Dingwall for about 6 years in the early 1900s. He would have spent many an hour in the Council Chambers.  He was also a clock and watch maker and had a shop further up the street from the chemist shop.  The clock in the tower is one of John’s clocks.

Museum - Provost Frew Portrait (1)

My dear friends, Pat and Ian MacLeod, have served as the museum’s curators for many many years and are still quite active with its many functions. IMG_5157 (Edited) I had the extreme pleasure to meet a delightful young lady, Emma, one of their newest members at the front reception desk. A John Rose Frew clock at left.IMG_5158 (Edited)

On another occasion, I took an opportunity to go out to the edge of town where the Cromarty Firth ends at land in Dingwall and I took a little walk along the “Dingwall Walk.”IMG_5180 (Edited)

IMG_5177 (Edited)IMG_5179 (Edited)On the way back I stopped at the Dingwall Train Station…IMG_5181 (Edited)IMG_5182 (Edited)


I got lucky and saw the train actually arrive!IMG_5185 (Edited)

Above the roofline, one can see the Hector MacDonald tower up above on Mitchell Hill cemetery overlooking the station and the whole town. That cemetery is where a lot of my other Frew ancestors are buried.IMG_5183 (Edited)

IMG_5134and just for fun… I was in the Tesco Grocery store in Dingwall shopping with my friend Pat.  That’s when I ran across these jars of Goose Fat!  Never seen goose fat before; perhaps you haven’t either.  Evidently, the thing to use this product for is potatoes.  After parboiling potatoes, one brushes them with goose fat and then pops them in the oven to roast to make them all “crinkly and crispy.”  And that is how you make roasted tatties!

Also of note when shopping in Scotland!  You know when we go to the grocery store in the U.S. there are all kinds of pickles – sweet, dill, bread and butter, etc.  They come in all shapes and sizes – sliced, spears, whole, chopped, in relish form, kosher, etc.

Well, I wanted to make some of my homemade tartar sauce for my fish and chips and headed to the store.  Much to my dismay, the stores might sell a couple of jars of small sweet gherkins if you’re lucky but I can’t seem to find any dill pickles in this country – not in any size, shape or form!  I am so used to having such a huge variety available in our stores at home!  If you buy a hamburger or a hot dog and want some pickle or relish on it, good luck!  If you really like your pickles, you’d best bring them with you!

At the end of the day, I had a nice visit with Pat and Ian at their home.  After having a ‘bit of a sit’ out in Pat’s garden at the back of her house, she fixed a lovely dinner of spaghetti.

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Then Ian and I enjoyed a wee dram of whiskey together next to their new electric fire. (It looks amazingly real but it is totally electric with LED lights!)


Ian is quite the guy!  For all of his many many years of community service, he received a medal from Queen Elizabeth herself this year and attended her garden party by invitation.  Isn’t it a beauty?

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The caricature of him really captures his impish and fun nature.image

Tomorrow we will visit the Black Isle and the small seaport villages of Avoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie.  You won’t want to miss it!


Author: Claudia Frew

Adventuresome, independent, and fun-loving 68-year young American great-grandmother who loves to travel; often going solo!

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