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:
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
died at Hallmyre Cottages 5th Jan'y
1905, aged 80 years
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.