The Duchess of Gordon was a very strong Christian, who was very influential in the 1859 Revival; indeed Huntly was the regional centre for the revival. Reginald Radcliffe stayed here to rest, as did others, including Brownlow North, whose salvation, the Duchess had a hand in.
IT was at Aberdeen, in 1859, when Mr Radcliffe was feeling greatly the strain of his many meetings, that he received a cordial invitation from the Duchess of Gordon, so well known for her out-and-out Christian character, to go and rest at Huntly Lodge.
It was on the l0th March, when Mr. Radcliffe was visiting the school at Huntly Lodge Gates, that the power of God fell upon the hearts of many of the children.
The Duchess wrote to the Rev. Moody Stuart, Edinburgh: "A baby of a few summers was sobbing so that Mr Radcliffe took her in his arms to find out if she were hurt. Oh, no; only while you were praying I felt my heart so hard I could not love Jesus,' JESUS is all their cry.”
Again the Duchess wrote: "When I went into the school the day after, I found them marching merrily, having adapted to their marching time, the hymn of which the chorus is, love Jesus, yes, I do.' Of course, it will not do to allow the name of Jesus to be used lightly; but I could not at once stop the babes in their own way of rejoicing in the Lord."
The visits to Huntly Lodge were sunny spots, even in our happy lives. We were all together, and the Duchess threw herself heart and soul into plans for spreading the Gospel around her own neighbourhood, and far up amongst her people in her old Highland home; many of whom preferred their own Gaelic tongue, and hearing Mr Radcliffe interpreted by Mr Hector Macpherson. Being at Huntly Lodge on the 1st August 1869, at one o'clock we went into the Duchess' boudoir. Mr Radcliffe read a chapter of the Bible selected by her Grace, which she said she appropriated to herself many years before, at this time of the year, when reading "Bogatzky's Golden Treasury." She was at that time in great trouble. The old Duke was dead, and her own dear husband did not find things just as he wished; and reading "Bogatzky," as was her custom, she got that verse to rest upon in Joshua i. 9, and she added, "I now give it to you. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.'"
Mr Radcliffe was starting that day, in the Duchess's travelling carriage, a tour of about seventy miles in the Highlands. Miss Sandilands went with him. Hector Macpherson, who interpreted in Gaelic, Duncan Matheson, and Rev. H. M. Williamson were to be picked up on the road at Glass Market whither they had gone to preach. The first night the party was to rest and speak at Dufftown; and Mr Radcliffe wrote the next day: "We were rejoicing last night over strong men healed on the spot, and through their tears then instructing one another. The Lord granted the shower at once. Still, continue to look for a flood to carry us through the whole tour." The party proceeded to Tomintoul and Kingussie; and on Saturday arrived at Fochabers, where the Duchess had lived for about twenty years at Gordon Castle during the Duke's lifetime.
It was my own happy lot to stay during this tour quite alone with her Grace at Huntly Lodge, and we had many long, delightful talks. The Duchess told me about her early life; her overwhelming sorrow when the Duke died; and many interesting stories about the past, amongst others, of her taking the lead amongst the Peeresses of the realm at the coronation of our gracious Queen, on the 28th of June, 1838. I afterwards learnt that it was in an aisle of Elgin Cathedral, and whilst standing over the remains of the last Duke of Gordon as they were moved into the vault, that she dedicated herself to the Lord. "When the coffin was lowered into that vault,' she said, "I felt as if God had placed under my feet all that was most dear to me, the only one on earth to whose love I was entitled, and that now I must live to Himself alone." In connection with this event, she would often at Huntly Lodge express herself in prayer: "Lord, Thou art the Master in this house; I have givens it all to Thee." Morning and evening the large circle of domestics and men employed in the gardens and stables were assembled for prayer; and those who have stayed at Huntly Lodge as visitors cannot forget the quiet decorum with which Mr Ford, the butler, used morning and evening at half-past nine o'clock to announce, "All assembled, your Grace." The family and guests then repared to the library for worship. When the visit to Aberdeenshire was coming to a close, the Duchess came to Aberdeen to attend the last service Mr Radcliffe was to conduct. We went together to that last solemn public meeting; and leaning on my arm the Duchess walked right up the church, to shew her colours. From 'Recollections of Reginald Radcliffe,' by his wife. p75-7.
Huntly Lodge is now a hotel.