Admiral Collingwood in the Borders

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This weekend I walked the first part of the Berwickshire Coastal Path, from Berwick up over the Border as far as Coldingham Bay (it got dark before I got to St Abbs), which took me back to Eyemouth harbour.

I don’t think I posted about this boat the first time I went to Eyemouth – I only had my tablet with me then, so could only take very bad pictures – so I was glad to see it still there, if not very much less confused about it than the first time!

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There’s a bit of information on a website here – the boat seems to have once belonged to a training college in Blyth – but no one seems very sure how it ended up in Eyemouth.

Coincidentally, while I was on the train to Berwick, I came across a mention in one of Collingwood’s letters about the portrait of him which is at Paxton House (only about 5 miles from Berwick, but back over the Scottish border). Writing from Dreadnought in August 1804:

I hope Mr Home will send Sarah the picture from Paxton. It is a dead letter there, but she would like it. It is not a miniature, but a small portrait about 16 inches.

The Collingwood Society went to Paxton House a year or two ago – it’s an interesting Georgian house, and has other naval collections – but the first anyone seemed to know about the portrait was when Paxton got in touch, around the time the society was first set up, to say that they had a picture of Collingwood and didn’t know why!

I’m intrigued by the fact that the painting was already there at that point – I had thought that it might have ended up there after the death of Alexander Carlyle, who was both an uncle of Collingwood’s by marriage and some kind of connection of the Home family at Paxton, and who died around the time of Trafalgar.

Two Borders mysteries in one day!

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