P’s Great-grandfather made a tidy little sum in the bus business. As the money came in, family life was transformed. Each summer, the family would rent a substantial scots baronial pile near their home town: Milton Lockhart. P’s family has films from the 1930s which show family weddings; horses charging about the meadows; children dancing on the lawn and a curl of smoke from the chimney of the gatehouse – another world in flickering sepia.
Eventually, the family bought a large house and the long inter-war summers were forgotten. Milton Lockhart, dark and neglectedÂ became rain-slick and defeated. Then, in the 1980s, the old house disappeared completely. It had been dismantled at the behest of a grinning Japanese film star and shipped to Japan where it sat, disassembled, in a warehouse awaiting its fate.
At this point Mr Hirai came to its rescue. Mr Hirai is a successful businessman of the sort P’s Great-grandfather would immediately have felt a fellowship with. His principal business is stone. To his evident frustration the Japanese continue to prefer to build and decorate their homes with wood. The black walls of Milton Lockhart would stand as an advertisment of sorts – a granite statement of the possibilities of building in stone.
That was how Milton Lockhart came be Lockheart Castle, brooding on a hillside in the Gunma Province of Japan. On behalf of P’s family we were tasked with finding the Castle. We brought with us, as a gift, a copy of the 70 year old family movies.