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Boo! A spooky night at “Admiral Collingwood Inn” 22 February, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Books, Cuthbert Collingwood, things you don't need but probably want.
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Imagine you’re stranded in Portsmouth, “not many years after the Victory had sailed from Portsmouth, bearing Nelson towards Trafalgar and death,” your name is Hamilton and you really, really need a roof over your head, for “any honest citizen who tramped the Portsmouth streets  after dark ran the risk of anything from minor robbery to murder.”

Unfortunately, all inns are occupied, with two or three men sharing one bed, and you’re not tempted to accept that “‘prime billet’ kept by a ‘decent woman’. Oh woe betide you! But look – there’s still hope!

Turning a corner, he found himself in a short street of which the principal feature was an inn, announcing itself to be the ADMIRAL COLLINGWOOD and bearing an unflattering likeness of that gentleman on its swinging sign.

Alas, the place is not the safe port Mr Hamilton thought it to be, and he ends up sharing his bed with the ghost of a murdered sailor that night. A rather messy ghost it is, too. Good grief!

All unpleasantness for Mr Hamilton aside, such incidents aren’t welcome in the tourist industry, and the consequences for the “Admiral Collingwood Inn” were dire:

They walked through the busy streets to the turn of the lane; but no “Admiral Collingwood” could they see. A building something like what Mr Hamilton remembered of it certainly stood there, but it now housed a greengrocer’s shop…”

I suppose it’s safe to assume said greengrocer’s shop sold cabbages…!

If you’d like to read the full story of the spooky encounter at the “Admiral Collingwood”:

“The Whiskered Sailor of Portsmouth” – Michael and Mollie Hardwick, 1966

(All anthologies containing this story are out of print; I link to a seller offering one book. First come, first served, for all others: GOOGLE-FU!)

Mollie Hardwick is best known for her “Upstairs, Downstairs” work. Together with husband Michael, she also wrote “The World’s Greatest Sea Mysteries” (1969) and is the author of “Emma, Lady Hamilton” (1969).

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Quote: “For winter or summer he rigged alike…” 15 February, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Books, Cuthbert Collingwood, Quotes, Royal Navy.
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“Poor old Cuddy! a better soul, nor braver heart in breeze or battle, never thumped ‘twixt the ribs of man! He was none o’ your nice-uns as never seed daylight till the decks were dried up, and reg’larly reported dry as a bone. Sea or harbour, wet or dry, gale or calm, the dawn always seed him on deck. There he’d pace the break o’ the poop, with his bluebreeks and white stockings (for winter or summer he rigged alike), his hard-weather hat shipped—for the scraper he bent in a breeze was always in use afore breakfast. It was as brown as a berry, and the lace round the rim as black as an old copper bolt. Well, there, with his three-cocked-scraper a-thawtships—for ’twas a reg’lar razee—ay, lower cut-down nor a Green’ich boson’s—well, there, in this sort o’ rig, he’d pace the poop, twirling his two thumbs afore him, for all the world like a straighthaired quaker, whilst the mizen-topmen washing decks of a morn, would sluish and slash the water about him, in every direction.

“Never mind me,” he’d say, as if he was no more,—no, no more nor a reg’lar galoot, never mind me, my man,” (for he always spoke to a man like a man,) “if I gets in your way,” he’d say, in a voice and look as told the truth of his tongue—for half your chaps as say a kind word to a fellow, don’t say it so much from their nat’ral bent, as to try and earn a name, as they knows in their hearts they doesn’t desarve—”if  I gets in your way,” old Cuddy ‘ould say—”it’s my fault, my man, and not yours, my man.”

He’d the most takenest tongue I ever met in my day.—I’m blessed, if I woudn’t rather get a reg’lar blowin-up from he—nor—ay,—a good word from half your capring skippers.”

Quote from an unknown tale by “Captain Glasscock”, as reviewed in The Edinburgh review, Vol. 52, October 1830 to January 1831. In the same issue, the first book my Frederick Marryat was reviewed, and they didn’t like it – “we are sorry to be obliged to say, that it is marked by many violations of taste and propriety.”

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So – what did Collingwood look like? 10 February, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Art, Books, Cuthbert Collingwood, Family, Lady Sarah, Letters, Trivia.
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It’s not unrealistic to assume that some of the artists in the 18th century were flattering their customers. The absence of a smile, a clenched jaw and determined glare on a painting can be expressions of determination and a firm character or the artist’s attempt at hiding loss of teeth due to scurvy. Caveat visor.

But really, who could blame artist or customer; the wish to leave a positive image of oneself to future generations is timeless. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Madonna before and after photoshop-treatment, you know that photography can’t be trusted, either.

So, what about Admiral Lord Collingwood? Are we seeing his real face on the portraits?

I think it’s safe to say that the portraits of Admiral Lord Collingwood are more accurate than many others. While not without vanity (and really, who is!), he certainly wasn’t the man to insist on the “big hair” treatment. We know that he sent a portrait painted by Giuseppe Sorcevani to his wife Sarah, who hadn’t seen him for five years and was not pleased with the sight, to say the least. (Had she lived today, she’d probably posted a “OMGWTF” lolcat macro to her blog…)

Collingwood, who thought the artist was pretty much spot on with his portrayal, sent a snarky note to his dearly beloved:

I am sorry to find my picture was not an agreeable surprise (…) you expected to find me a smooth-skinned, clear-complexioned gentleman, such as I was when I left home, dressed in the newest taste, and like the fine people who live gay lives ashore. Alas! it is far otherwise with me (…) The painter represented me as I am, not as I once was. It is time and toil that have worked the change, and not his want of skill.
(ibid pp. 204-205)

We have to thank Captain Abraham Crawford for the following description of Collingwood. His memoirs are available for online reading here.

(…) At the time I write of, Lord Collingwood was between fifty and sixty, thin and spare in person, which was then slightly bent, and in height about five feet ten inches. His head was small, with a pale, smooth round face, the features of which would pass without notice, were it not for the eyes, which were blue, clear, and penetrating; and the mouth, the lips of which were thin and compressed, indicating firmness and decision of character. He wore his hair powdered, and tied in a queue, in the style of officers of his age at that time ; and his clothes were squared and fashioned after the strictest rules of the good old sea school, To his very ample coat, which had a stiff, standup collar, were appended broad and very long skirts—the deep flaps of his single-breasted white waistcoat, descending far below his middle, covered a portion of his thighs; and blue knee-breeches, with white stockings, and buckles to his shoes, completed his attire.

“Reminiscences of a Naval Officer, during the Late War” (1851) by Captain Abraham Crawford.
(Very special thanks to ShipRat for sending in this quote)

As this blog here is Very Serious Business, we went about the question of Collingwood’s looks with a strictly scientific approach. Means: we ran his portrait through the Facial Beauty Analyser. You’ll be pleased to hear that Admiral Lord Collingwood scored a stunning 8.94 points out of 10. That’s 0.01 point MORE than Orlando Bloom, and 0.29 points more than James D’Arcy.

Which proves – nothing. But it’s more fun than shovelling snow.

Article on BBC online, interview with and talks by Max Adams 14 January, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Books, Cuthbert Collingwood, Events, Interviews, Online articles.
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This just in: an article on BBC Online about Collingwood and the 2010 Festival:

ADMIRAL COLLINGWOOD: A LOCAL HERO

Among some information about Collingwood, you can find bits and pieces of an interview with author Max Adams.

“As a human being he really is a shining example for young people.”

And there’s some exciting news:

Max will be giving a series of talks as part of the Collingwood 2010 festival and is also helping with an educational project to teach children more about the famous admiral.

I’m all for it.

And:

“We want to remind people what an interesting guy he was. He should be the symbol of the North East we are proud of. Everything he did was for others.

“The event is a complete one-off and if you’re proud of your region, everyone from all the family should come along and join in the celebration.”

We’ll try our best. Promised.

Collingwood-book competition by Newcastle City Council 13 January, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Books, Contests, Cuthbert Collingwood.
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An updated edition of Max Adams’ book “Collingwood – Northumberland’s Heart of Oak” is out. That’s great news. Even better news is that Newcastle City Council runs a contest where you can win the book.

PLEASE GO HERE FOR THE CONTEST

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK

I like Max Adams’ writing style a lot. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy his work, so I can really recommend  his books. “Collingwood – Northumberland’s Heart of Oak” is also available through Amazon.

Good luck!