Herrislea House is currently owned and operated by husband and wife team Gordon and Marjorie Williamson. Situated in the Tingwall Valley to the north of Lerwick in the heart of the Shetland mainland, Herrislea has had an interesting history, owned by various people over the years.
We bought Herrislea House Hotel in 1997 and became great friends with Thomas (Tammy) Fraser who had worked for the first owners of the House. He helped build the original building that can be seen behind Tammy with his prizewinning ram back in the 1920s. He worked for the Nelson family of Veensgarth & Herrislea and married Katie from the Tingwall area. They stayed at Sand on the Westside and he lived to be almost 100 still working his croft to the very last years of his life. He opened the hotel for us in 1998 and he came to visit us often for Sunday lunch. When he was sitting in the CafeBar, which is now the apartments at the back, he would look down and say ‘this is where I used to plough with the horse’.
Mr G.M. Nelson built onto his original house in the late 50s OR early 60s creating a much bigger and grander house. He was local registrar and many people came here to register their intent to marry. He was also elder for the Church of Scotland in Tingwall Valley – one of the oldest churches in Shetland and also preached at churches throughout Shetland.
His family subsequently sold the house and it was bought and turned into a guest house. Subsequent owners built on various other parts. It had fallen into disuse, when we bought and refurbished in from a burnt out shell in 1997.
The Tingwall Valley has a longstanding history connected to the Viking times when it was the seat of the Viking parliament OR ‘Ting’. There is a descriptive plaque on the side of the road along the Tingwall loch describing the site and the use of the ‘Ting’
The farm of Griesta above the Kirk & loch was where the Viking elders left their weapons when they came to sit in the parliament. It is still an active farm today.