In the course of making a documentary, the pursuit of the story often leads to other interesting discoveries – and connections.
Such was the case while we were filming Programmed to be Fat?
In this installment of Tales from the Road, our director Bruce Mohun meets the descendant of his ancestor’s foe:
The Baillie-Hamilton clan is well known around the town of Callendar in Scotland. Paula (our reason for the visit) is an Oxford medical Ph.D. who was the first to publish a paper suggesting a link between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and weight gain. She is the author of two books based on her research.
Her husband Michael has his own claim to fame: he is the local Laird. He’s also petitioning to become the head of the Hamilton clan worldwide, and owns a lot of land around the town.
We interviewed Paula in the drawing room of their home, a castle the family inherited from Michael’s father. We filmed her with her two youngest children and a litter of cocker spaniel puppies in the library.
I pulled a small, black, leather-bound book at random from the library shelves. It was in Latin, and dated from the 17th Century. Paula admitted she had no idea what books were there. Just a lot, and very old. The hallways of the castle are filled with huge two-hundred year old oil portraits. The building creaks with history.
Turns out there was some personal history there, too. Ironically, my ancestor, Lord Charles Mohun, and Michael’s ancestor, the Duke of Hamilton, had a duel over an estate back in 1712 – in the Rose Garden of Hyde Park in London – and managed to kill each other: one of the most famous duels in English history. The story is captured in the book Duke Hamilton is Dead! by Victor Stater.
When I mentioned it to Mike he denied knowledge, but I suspect the revenge factor still simmers – they have long memories, these Scots.
All images from Wikipedia.