As you know by my previous mail I’ve been touring the Highlands during the week of the 15th… I’ve planned my trip to include what I reputed the most significant Jacobite places; among them I’ve seen some museum; the one which has more conquered my attention is the West Highland Museum in Fort William. I’m sure the majority of you already knows it and maybe you’ve also visited it many times. However, since-for which I know-there aren’t posts about it on the Association website, I think to be nice to write down one. (Naturally the Museum has its own website, that’s really nice, but it’s really poor of photos and I’ll try to write something that’s not already there: http://www.westhighlandmuseum.org.uk/)
The ground floor of the museum is dedicated to a wide variety of subjects. A room is reserved to the british green berets who trained during WWII near Fort William, another room is about the Highland’s fauna, another yet to archaeological findings from the area and a last room, maybe the most interesting, is the reconstruction of how it may have appeared the apartment of the garrison commander of fort William in the last years of the 17th Century. There, among the furniture you can see a banner that should have belonged to the piper of Donald MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart.
Upstairs there’s a room dedicated to the evolution of the Highland dress, with among other pieces a silver set (belt, crossbelt, broadsword, dirk, sghian dubh, sporran) belonged to John Brown, the Scottish ghillie of queen Victoria, and some memorabilia of the Queen herself.
The remaining part of the floor is wholly sacred to Jacobite History.
Here we can find a wide collection of portraits of Charlie and Henry Benedict and some of James and Clementina. Many interesting print published by the Hannoverian propaganda during the 1745 and a lot of Jacobite miniatures.
Also of great interest a pair of showcase with pieces of tartan, a sporran, some tools and a jacket reputed to have been used by Jacobites, some at Culloden and some other during the Rising.
In one of this showcase too is exposed a very refined silk waistcoat tailored for Charlie to be used at his triumphal entrance in London, the waistcoat was never worn neither the embroidery completed. In the same showcase is one of Charlie’s bonnet… more black than blue to be sincere…
the little things on the glass pedestal are Charlie’s shoebuckles.
Really near this showcase is exposed the most publicized item of the museum a “secret portrait” of Charles obtained by mirroring a distorted image painted on a table. It was bought from a London antiquarian and its origin is unknown.
Sincerely I found it really nice but I repute much more interesting the bronze plaque hanged at the opposite wall, engraved for the printing of Jacobite paper money during the Rising. Sadly this item too was never used. However, recently a limited circulation of notes have been printed with it for exhibition in museums.
Going on with the visit, if someone would like to enroll himself, there’s also an officer appointment signed by Charles and left blank…
For those who love bagpipes, like me, there’s also a set of pipes that’s said to have played at Culloden and Charlie’s Musette. One of the last showcase presents another bagpipe(largely reconstructed) that should have played at Bannockburn, even if-to my modest opinion-this is quite a pretense…
The last room is reserved to tools used in agriculture and some pre-industrial spinning wheel… coming back to the ground you can again see some Jacobite broadswords, targes and Lochaber Axes… there are many of them scattered through the whole museum.
Last but not least, I’ve felt really proud when I’ve seen that the museum exposes and sells also something given by our Association: the white cockades.
Concluding, the museum is really wonderful and I’ve to thank its staff that keep it open for free, that has been most kind chatting with me and that permitted to take these photos.
I hope you enjoy this post as I’ve enjoyed the museum.