We recently renewed our acquaintance with the Great Tapestry of Scotland with a visit to Cockenzie House. This is a lovely 17th century house built for the Seton family. It lies by the coast not far from Edinburgh and close to the little villages of Port Seton and Prestonpans. It is now an arts centre and B&B and was hosting the complete tapestry set. Today, Sunday was the final day for viewing. As the house is a bit out of the way I was not expecting too many visitors. But I was wrong. Though nothing like the crowds who thronged to see the tapestry while on display in the Parliament, it was still attracting large numbers of visitors. All 165 panels were on display, hung in what seemed to be a myriad of small rooms. So there was still some jostling as you wandered through the rooms. First up a view of Cockenzie House as you walk down the entrance path.
It was good to see the tapestry again and take a bit more time to look closely at some of the panels. This meant I could appreciate even more the wonderful and intricate work that has gone into this work. This particular post will focus on some of the details to be found in the panels. I start with a couple of the logos which feature on most panels. These illustrate in some way the group of stitchers who worked the panel. The two I have selected are from South Skye and Glenisla.
Many of the panels contain some beautiful and colourful examples of the wildflowers to be found across Scotland. One panel, The Wildwood, was devoted to the plants and fauna which colonised Scotland after the ice age. Below are some of the flowers to be found on this panel, stitched by the Edinburgh Tapestry Tenners.
All sorts of things can be found on the surroundings of many panels. Most with a historical significance. The first one below shows a lovely squirrel. It is from the William Wallace and Andrew Moray panel, stitched by the Perth Embroiderers’ Guild. Not sure what the significance of the squirrel is though. Then a rather poignant rose and thistle from the Flodden panel, stitched by the Flodden Embroiderers. The third one here is a fine gentleman from the David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau panel, stitched by the Coastal Stitchers.
I close with some very vivid and colourful scenes from one of my favourite panels. This is the Scots in India panel, stitched by the Wardie Church Stitchers. What a wonderful job they have done. I have always felt a special attraction and fascination for India. My father was born there, in Kanpore, and my school in St Andrews was founded by Dr Bell, who made his fortune in India. The Dr Bell whose name features in the first section below. The school was named Madras College after the Indian city, now of course renamed Chennai. I also love the bagpipe in the final section. Enjoy!
If you have never seen the Great Tapestry in all its glory you will now have to wait until next year. It is due to go on display in Aberdeen in the spring. In the meantime you can enjoy the tapestry by buying your own copy of the Great Tapestry of Scotland book. This shows each panel in full colour with a commentary on the panel, along with the names of the stitchers. A book to treasure, which you can get from the publishers, Birlinn. Or visit their website, here.