|Cathedral closed until further notice|
Kenneth Alexander BAIRD
Cadet Kenneth Alexander Baird
The Inns of Court Officer Training Corps
Born in Scotland, Kenneth was educated at Heatherdown Prep School and Eton. On leaving Eton, Kenneth relocated to London to train as a Barrister at the Inns of Court School of Law, where he joined the Officer Training Corps. Deployed to the front, Kenneth was sadly wounded and brought to hospital in the UK, firstly to Aberdeen and then, for his recuperation, to Durris Auxiliary Hospital in Kirton, which was, very likely, on his parents’ estate, which may be why their initials, H R and F K were incorporated into the design of the Durris page in the book which the men who worked on the altar frontal signed (see more below).
The London Gazette suggests that Kenneth was then seconded to the Seaforth Highlanders as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant as part of his demobilisation from the Army.
In 1924, Kenneth married his wife, Ernestine. They and their daughter later moved to start a new life in Africa, making the occasional trip back to London and Scotland, until Kenneth died in 1968. Kenneth’s daughter continued to live in Africa, but returned to the UK shortly before she died.
The Durris Estate, on the Dee, was originally a Clan Fraser estate but had been bought in 1834 by Andrew Mactier, a successful Madras merchant, who began tocreate a 200 acre arboretum around the house. A later owner, James Young, invented paraffin, which is why the local people often call Durris ‘Parrafin House’. He expanded the forest by adding rare trees from the Far East, atradition taken up by Kenneth Baird’s father.
Kenneth’s father was Henry Robert Baird, the Laird of Durris, who was married to Florence Katherine: ‘H R’ and ‘F K’.
The initials of Kenneth’s parents have clearly been incorporated into the design in the book.
On the relevant page of the book, there is a beautifully painted vignette of two injured soldiers, standing in a driveway. One could imagine that one of the injured men shown is Kenneth and that his companion is a relative or a friend.
The unusual thing about Kenneth then is that he is the one man on the list who, when he was admitted to hospital, was actually ‘going home’. The hospital in which he was cared for is described as ‘Durris Auxiliary Hospital’; Henry and Katherine lived at Durris House. The house itself may have acted as a hospital at the time: many wealthy families with large houses allowed them to be used for this purpose.If the house itself wasn’t the hospital, it is more than likely that the hospital building belonged to the Durris Estate and the Bairds may have wished and were able to pay for the Durris page in the book to be professionally designed and painted, which is why their initials and a painting of their son may feature so noticeably on the page.