Borrodale House ... the right place to ponder and to hope ...
What was the Prince thinking of at Borrodale?
It could have been a worrying time, if he'd been given to worrying. But by all accounts the Prince was not. Rather he was supremely confident that the Highland Clans would rally to his standard in 1745. So too were the 'Seven Men of Moidart' who came ashore there with him from La Doutelle.
click to enlarge photograph
From September 12th/ 17th 2009 the Trustees from Prestonpans, seeking to honour the Prince's journey that took him from St Nazaire/ Eriskay to Prestonpans in 1745, have also checked in at Borrodale House! It's been elegantly rebuilt since its wanton destruction long ago but there can scarcely be a better place to contemplate and determine the next stages of the Trust's campaign. It's a campaign embarked upon in the Exeter Room in Derby in December 2006 - another iconic place on the Prince's journey!
The Prestonpans Battle Trust aspires to make a 'Dream' come true. It aspires to create for the nation a Living History Centre in Prestonpans that honours the Hope, the Ambition and the Victory which the young 26 year old Prince experienced. For the past three years myriad feasibility studies and community involving activities have been championed. Archaeologists have combed the battlefield site.
The Trust is now ready to put its case to the nation. Over the coming 12 months they shall see just how well the case has been made and whether or not the nation at large wishes to share their 'Dream'. Naturally, the Trustees expect 'Yes' for an answer. The more they have examined and evaluated the mountain of historical evidence the clearer it has become to them that the Prince still has a relevant message for every young person today - not just for Prestonpans or even just for Scotland.
His message is: Be Hopeful, be Ambitious, Expect Victory ... and even if it might not work out, that is absolutely no reason for not trying.
Embroidering the Tale, and a BattleGame?
It might seem a tad unusual that to advance their case to the nation the Trustees should have lately set their hearts on embroidering a 79 metre tapestry that tells the tale from Eriskay to Prestonpans. But on second thought perhaps not. Just as at Borrodale the Prince was supremely confident the Clans would rally to his standard, so too are the Trustees confident that the communities through which he passed will share in its creation.
Each community is being asked to 'sign off' its 'own' panel as appropriate and to volunteer if it can to undertake the embroidery as well.
The participation of so many communities in such a way across Scotland is surely as powerful an assertion that the nation is ready to listen to the Prince's message in this day and age as any one could envisage.
And a BattleGame? Well, it gives Cope a chance to win of course, but most significantly it lays bare the very essence of the strategies and the tactics which in just a few moments [nine by some estimates at Prestonpans in 1745] can change the fortunes of a nation.
Astley Hall at Arisaig: Tuesday September 15th from 7 pm
Whilst at Borrodale, the Trustees will be making field visits to Glenfinnan, to Fort Augustus, to the Corriearick Pass, to Inverness, to Highbridge and to Ruthven Barracks. In each place the crucial 'sign off' and search for embroiderers will go forward.
But in particular the Trustees were delighted to announce they are calling a 'Meeting of All Interested Supporters' at Astley Hall, Arisaig on Tuesday September 15th from 7 pm. Already names are emerging of seven possible embroiderers, and of local historians who can make sure the depictions are appropriate. And as in Eriskay & the Uists with Am Paipear, the local community newspaper Westword is giving its support to let the community know of the meeting. So the Trustee's Hope and Ambition knows no bounds .... what Eriskay can accomplish Borrodale and beyond will surely match.
In attendance from the Trust will be the artist responsible for the creation of the tapestry designs, Andrew Crummy. Bonnie Prince Charlie [aka Arran Johnson] will be there too along with architect Gareth Bryn-Jones who has envisoned the Living History Centre and Prestonpans Poet Laureate John Lindsay. The Trust's StoryTeller-in-Chief Greg Dawson-Allen will have an especial role and the Trust is delighted to welcome Steve Lord, author of In the Steps of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Trust Chairman Gordon Prestoungrange, Baron of Prestoungrange, is responsible for driving the BattleBus - suitably chastened since last month when en route to Eriskay he put it in a ditch for six hours on Skye.
Published Date: August 13th 2009