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Something Significant's Going Down at Duddingston this September ...

Henry Raeburn's [?] Famous Painting, Walter Scott a Kirk Elder, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Council of War ... Duddingston has always been a significant location

Perhaps we can begin with the world famous painting of the Minister, The Reverend Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch from the late 18th century. Until 2005 Scotland's National Portrait Gallery ascribed it to Raeburn, but now there is just a hint that it could well have been by a visiting French artist, Henri-Pierre Danloux. Be that as it may, it's a very fine work and most would want to believe it is by Raeburn. Certainly Duddingston's claim to be home to the world's oldest Ice Skating Club goes unchallenged.

click on image to enlarge

Raeburn also painted several portraits of his friend Sir Walter Scott who did so very much through Waverley to recreate the legends of Prestonpans, the Highlanders unquestioning loyalty to the Stuarts and their consumate bravery in that Jacobite cause.

Prince Charles Edward's Council of War at Duddingston in 1745

The Trust's especial interest in Duddingston lies in the Prince's War Council held on the eve of Battle at Prestonpans. It was here he also met with Beatrix Jenkinson and her sister who were to nurse Colonel Gardiner just one day later in his final hours at Tranent Manse - for that was where they were visiting at the time with their father, the Minister from Athelstanford.

Those meetings all took place in a tavern which stood on The Causeway at Duddingston that is today known as The Prince's Cottage. Its appearance now little resembles that built in 1721 since it had fallen into disrepair and was only saved by the Duddingston Preservation Society in 1948 then subsequently rebuilt. But a plaque marks the precise location, and conveniently the much older tavern in Duddingston, the Sheep Heid Inn, will serve the Trust's purpose for the 2008 re-enactment on September 19th.

Laird of Niddrie's Wish to Gift Gold Coins to the Prince

As well as the famous tale of the Jenkinson sisters, two other accounts have been preserved of the Prince's time in Duddingston. The first was the determination of the Laird of Niddrie to ensure his gift of gold coins reached the Prince even though English patrols were often to be found between their respective locations. So the Laird contrived to get his young son to carry the coins in a basket covered over with apples and when he arrived, after several near escapes, he was rewarded by the Prince with one of his silver buttons.

The second concerns the determination of Clan Robertson to move the captured coach of General Sir John Cope from the field of battle via Duddingston then home to Clan Rannoch - without a horse to assist!

The Sheep Heid at noon September 19th 2008

The 2008 re-enactment in Duddingston is to be hosted by Michael MacKenzie, Baron of Easter and Wester Duddingston. And the Rev. James Jack, Minister at the Kirk today, will be very much in support too. The Prince and Highlanders will take lunch as they reconvene their Council of War just as the Trust reconvened the Prince's Council in the Exeter Room in Derby in December 2006 - seen below.

The Sheep Heid's Publican and Scottish historian 'D J' Johnson-Smith is ensuring the arrangements go smoothly. The Sheep Heid has met the needs of the local Edinburgh community and travellers since the 14th century. It has in its time reputedly been patronised by King James VI and I, Mary Queen of Scots and The Prince. Its Broth was a national favourite in the 18th century. It is home to the oldest Skittle Alley in Scotland.

All Supporters of the Campaign are cordially invited to the Sheep Heid at 12 noon although only formal invitees will be able to join the Prince at his Council and luncheon when he perforce retires upstairs at 1 pm. Highland attire is ideal for the occasion but if that is not convenient, the welcome will be just as warm.

Published Date: June 21st 2008

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