Obituary: Sir Ilay Campbell of Succoth, gardening and heraldry expert

Sir Islay Campbell 'Sir Ilay Campbell obit pic
Sir Islay Campbell 'Sir Ilay Campbell obit pic
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The death took place on 2 January of Sir Ilay Campbell of Succoth. Only child of Sir George Campbell, Ilay was born in 1927 and brought up between Crarae, Inveraray and Lennel, Coldstream, before his education at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford.

Ilay’s life knowledge and interests were many and varied. He loved hunting and history, collected paintings and books, enjoyed food, wine, fashion, antiques, architecture and gardens, heraldry and ancestry. He delighted in a party, was devoted to his horses and adored his dogs.

He and his father shared a passion for the garden at Crarae. This extensive collection of trees and shrubs, notably rhododendrons, set in what is likened to a Himalayan glen, is world famous.

When his father died in 1967 he took over the garden, improving and extending it through the Crarae Gardens Charitable Trust. His knowledge of plants and design acumen allowed the garden to fully flourish and his aim to preserve it for future generations was assured when, in 2002, it was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland.

Ilay was passionately interested in Scottish history, in family history and in heraldry. His knowledge on the subject was profound and his collection of Scottish heraldic bookplates, unrivalled. The art of heraldry fascinated him, drawing together as it does, design and draughtsmanship as well as both national and personal history.

In 1968 he was employed by Christie’s, the international art auction house, as their Scottish agent and in 1978 he became Chairman of Christie’s Scotland, a post he held until 1996.

At various times he was Chairman of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, a Member of the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland, Member of the Historic Council for Scotland, Chairman of the Church Buildings Trust and Scottish Representative on the National Art Collections Fund.

He was an Honorary Vice President of Scotland’s Garden Scheme and served for many years on the Gardens Committee of the National Trust for Scotland.

He was a Member of the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers, a Trustee of the Argyllshire Gathering and occasionally wrote a column for the Oban Times.

Sadly, during his final years, illness confined Ilay to his bed. With him dies the Baronetcy of Succoth, awarded in 1808 to his ancestor who, as Lord Succoth, was Lord President of the Court of Session.

His marriage to Rohais Anderson in 1961 gave him loving support throughout his life and tender care at the end of it. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, mourned also by a host of friends, both from Argyll, the Borders and further afield, by whom he will be greatly missed.

Alistair Campbell