(This isn’t exactly a throwback, because although I went to Culross years ago and took photos then, I’ve lost them, so all the photos are new. But never mind.)
Culross on the south coast of Fife is a wonderfully preserved place, with a jumble of old houses and little cobbled streets and an old market cross tucked into a tiny square, and a bright yellow palace which they swear is how it would have looked originally!
It’s not Thomas Cochrane’s birthplace – he was born over in the west somewhere – but it is where he grew up.
The main street now leads along the sea front, and it’s there that the main open square is, with the statue of Cochrane. The statue is fairly new – apparently it was put up because visitors from South America kept asking where his memorial was.
The inscription in front of it is impossible to get a good picture of – there’s no high point where you can stand – but it’s a slightly cut down version of the inscription on his gravestone in Westminster Abbey.
THOMAS COCHRANE G.C.B. ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET
Marquis of Maranham Brazil TENTH EARL OF DUNDONALD
BY THE CONFIDENCE WHICH HIS GENIUS HIS SCIENCE
AND HIS EXTRAORDINARY DARING INSPIRED
BY HIS HEROIC EXERTIONS IN THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM
HIS GREAT SERVICE ALIKE TO HIS OWN COUNTRY
TO GREECE TO BRAZIL AND PERU HE ACHIEVED
A NAME ILLUSTRIOUS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
FOR COURAGE PATRIOTISM AND CHIVALRY
Behind the sea front the old streets run steeeply up to the church on the hill, built in – and out of – the ruins of the original abbey.
The plaques in the porch recording gifts to the poor include one from Lady Mary Cochrane, who brought Culross into the Cochrane family (and who also has a dance – probably originally named for a tune, but if so the tune doesn’t seem to have survived.)
Cochrane’s childhood home was Culross Abbey House, on the hill in behind the church.
If I had realised this earlier I would have gone up to see if there was a view from the gate, but by the time I’d got down the hill I wasn’t going back up again.
You get a pretty good view from the shore, anyway – the house has been remodelled over the years, but has now been restored to something like the original state.
Down on the shore a little clump of houses is called Cochrane Haven – according to the plaque on them named specifically for the admiral, and not for the family as local landowners.