Fetlar Museum Digitisation Project

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Leagarth House
in 1901 a beautiful turn-of-the-century house was completed at Leagarth in Fetlar by Sir William Watson Cheyne. Cheyne was a Fetlar man who had become assistant to Lord Lister in the pioneering development of antiseptic surgery in the Victorian era, and had later become a famous surgeon in his own right, as well as an MP and Lord Lieutenant of Orkney and Shetland. He built Leagarth House in Fetlar initially to be able to return in the summer with guests, but retired there permanently in 1920.

His vision of magnificent landscaped gardens, which defied the harsh Shetland weather, was realised by his two gardeners, and the house and gardens became an attaction to visitors when they were opened on Sunday afternoons in the 1920s. The hall at Leagarth was a venue for regular dances, to which the whole island was invited, and after Sir Watson's death, his son Lister gave over part of the house as a hall for the community.

Today the gardens have faded into history, but were well documented in photographs by both the family and by visitors. From the early 1900s to the 1930s, the house and gardens were a hive of activity with a large staff and an endless stream of visitors. Sir Watson himself had his own small laboratory at the house, and sometimes performed surgery on local people, generally free of charge.

For more information on Sir William Watson Cheyne and his work with Lord Lister, see the website at http://www.watsoncheyne.shetland.co.uk In 2000, Fetlar Interpretive Centre's exhibition and multi-media resource on "Sir Watson" won a Scottish Museum of the Year award in the educational initiative category.

Click on a thumbnail picture below to view a larger image and a full detailed description.
Prescription Leagarth gardens in the process of construction - 1922 Silver tray Fixture for horse-shoe
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Click on a thumbnail picture below to view a larger image and a full detailed description.
Surgical instruments Probe Surgical scalpels
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Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund

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Beach of Houbie, Fetlar, Shetland, ZE2 9DJ
Tel: 01957 733206 email: info@fetlar.com