The private chapel at Glamis Castle was the perfect setting for a very special baptism last week in what was an emotional return visit for proud parents Jim and Allison Reilly.
The US space couple’s love affair began at the castle seven years ago with a chance meeting which was to lead them to the castle’s altar in April 2010.
The spark of love was ignited by Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore, who at the time had assumed the Americans were married.
Astronaut Jim (60), who completed five space walks during three shuttle missions, knew former NASA education director Allison from their time in Houston but had not really spoken to her until their paths crossed on separate visits to Scotland.
Jim said: “During my tour of the castle in 2007, Mary Countess asked me if I would like to join her at the table with my wife, and she pointed to Allison.
“We returned to the States and began dating, but everything began here at Glamis.”
The couple were privileged to be allowed to marry in the private chapel at the ancestral home of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and were ‘over the moon’ to be invited back last week for the baptism of their son, six-month old Jacob Luke.
The magnificent setting was resplendent in glorious sunshine as the star of the show arrived in style for his big day.
Accompanied by his mother, baby Jacob enjoyed a short tour of the castle grounds in a buggy driven by Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore.
He was completely at ease with all the attention and behaved impeccably as he was draped in a Saltire, which his proud father had taken into space aboard the Shuttle Atlantis in 2001, for a photo opportunity in front of the castle
The baptism was performed in private by the castle’s former chaplain, Canon Dendle French, who had conducted the couple’s wedding ceremony.
The service was a special occasion for Jim’s long-time friends Kevin and Margaret Drummond from the Borders, with Kevin standing in as godfather on behalf of Jim’s friend Locke Neely in Texas, and Margaret stepping in for Allison’s sister, April.
After the ceremony there were more photographs taken in the castle’s drawing room.
Jim and Allison, who live in Colorado, said it had been a “great honour” to be invited by the Dowager Countess to have Jacob baptised at Glamis.
Jim said: “We wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We met formally at the castle here as part of separate tours.
“I was here with the Black Watch doing some work with them and Allison was here with an education team. We met here at the castle, coincidentally.
“We went down to the 16th century kitchen and Lady Mary asked me to have a seat then asked my ‘wife’, Allison, to sit with us.
“When Allison said we weren’t married, without missing a beat, Lady Mary said, ‘well you should be!”
As well as inviting the couple to marry at Glamis, the Dowager Countess invited them back to the chapel for Jacob’s baptism.
Allison continued: “We are very honoured she did that. It was very emotional.
“It is so wonderful to have our son baptised in the Christian faith and to do it here in the castle is just extra special to us.
“Glamis has a very special place in our hearts.”
The Dowager Countess said: “It’s a most amazing story. They fell in love at Glamis and it is so wonderful to have them back here for this special, happy event.”