Friday, 19 February 2016

Nautical Journal Quilts

My Nautical Journal Quilts are being displayed at the Ingliston Quilt Show this weekend and I paid a visit this morning. The forecast again isn't too good so I reasoned I should go while the going was good. This is not the best picture as the area in which the journal quilts were displayed was very dark and for once I was forced to use the flash. But I have included individual pictures of each journal quilt too so that you get a better look.

These two pieces called Jeannie and Drummond Castle were inspired by a shipwreck story I came upon during a visit to West Linton Graveyard where Jeannie was commemorated on a gravestone erected by her parents. Her body though isn't there but lost in the waters of the Atlantic. I have blogged about this on my other blog about West Linton Graveyard and this is the story:
Every gravestone tell a tragic tale of course, but this one is particularly poignant as it refers to a tragedy at sea. Here is the text:

Erected by
Rob Gilbert
In loving Memory of
his daughter Jeanie
who was drowned by the sinking
of the SS Drummond Castle
on 16th June 1896, aged 46 years
the above
Robert Gilbert
died at Hallmyre Cottages 5th Jan'y
1905, aged 80 years
Margaret Steele
his wife who died 7th Nov. 1912
aged 86 years.

From accounts elsewhere it appears that this tragedy happened on the 16th June although it would have taken some time before Jeanie's parents were informed of the sinking of the SS Drummond Castle. The mail packet and passenger vessel  (built in 1881 in Govan, Glasgow) was on it's way from Cape Town to London when it got into difficulties, hit rocks near the coast of Brittany, France, and sank within the space of 4 minutes. Only 3 people out of 142 passengers and 101 crew were saved. It struck me as specially sad that Jeanie was apparently on her way back home when she so sadly perished. Where she had been and why are pieces of the puzzle that I'll probably never discover.

Subsequently a book was written by Henri Queffelec called "Les iles de la misericorde" in which these tragic events were described in depth. Apparently the ship was sounding it's horn when it went down but because it disappeared so quickly under the waves French fishing boats coming to its rescue were at first unable to find the exact position.The French fishermen did rescue the 3 survivors as well as bringing back to shore many bodies of the drowned. Silver medals were struck with the approval of Queen Victoria as award for the Breton fishermen and other inhabitants of Brest, Ushant, and Molene who helped in rescuing the survivors  and in the recovery and burial of those lost. A total of 282 medals were struck. 

The wreck was re-discovered in the 1930s by Italian divers and then again in 1979 when several objects were brought to the surface. They can now be seen in the museum in Molene . One simple gravestone but it has led me to research this sad event that I was completely unaware off. 

In 1996 the people of Moshene and Ushant, a poor region of France, commemorated the centenary of this disaster as amongst the many shipwrecks along that coastline, this one had left the deepest mark, and graves of the victims abound in graveyards along the coast. So one graveyard in West Linton led me to another one in France.

Since writing this post on the West Linton Graveyard blog and doing some more research I've now bought a print about the disaster on Ebay as well as the book Les iles de la misericorde on Amazon!  Some of the imagery was used for these two journal quilts.

Somehow the story of the SS Drummond Castle has gripped me. In the subsequent enquiry it was decided that something had gone wrong with taking the depth soundings which led the captain to believe the ship was in deeper water than it actually was,  and that more than likely human error was the main cause of this tragedy.

1 comment:

Linda Kunsman said...

such interesting although tragic history, and I can see how you are drawn to it Frieda. Your commemorative quilts are just beautiful!


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