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Carluke and Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott was born in August 1771 and many events have been planned this year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth. CPHS likes to show that all roads lead to Carluke so here are some of our parish connections to the great man.

Sir Walter made his first visit to Milton in January 1829 to help choose the site for a proposed mansion. Milton Lockhart was to become the home of William Lockhart, the brother of John Gibson Lockhart who was Sir Walter’s son-in-law and biographer. The library at Milton Lockhart was said to have been modelled on that of Abbotsford, Scott’s home.

On his visits to the area, Sir Walter met both the Clydesdale sculptors, Robert Forrest and John Greenshields. Both men went on to produce statues based on characters from his well-known tales.

Robert Forrest sculpted various works connected to Sir Walter. Sir Walter himself was part of his statuary exhibition on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. He was displayed along with Burns and Byron in the Poets’ Corner. The description of the Scott statue in the contemporary visitor’s guide states ‘Sir Walter is represented in his study, habited in a morning gown, and this idea of attiring him in loose drapery was adopted by Mr Forrest after an interesting conversation with him on the banks of the Clyde.’ Unfortunately, the whereabouts of this statue remains unknown, the only clue being that it went to Kent. The location of the Lord Byron statue is also unknown. However, the statue of Robert Burns was bought for Carluke by CPHS and we have its full history. It is believed to be the fourth oldest statue of Burns in the world.

Robert Forrest also created plaster busts of Effie and Jeanie Deans from ‘Heart of Midlothian’ and statues of The Black Dwarf and Cuddy Headrigg from ‘Old Mortality’.

John Greenshields lived at Willans across the River Clyde from Milton Lockhart. His mother ferried Sir Walter over to John’s workshop where Sir Walter Scott greatly admired the work being done there.

In July 1831, Sir Walter visited Milton Lockhart with John Gibson Lockhart after touring the Douglas area where he had been verifying facts for ‘Castle Dangerous’. That evening Greenshields spent a short time with him in the library. Unfortunately, Scott left suddenly the next morning to visit a sick friend and the two men never met again before Sir Walter’s death in 1832. In his book, Dr Rankin recorded that Greenshields was determined to ‘produce a statue of Scott as he last saw him, seated in the library of Milton-Lockhart’. This is the statue known as ‘Sic Sedebat’ which is now in Parliament Hall, Edinburgh.

John Greenshields also designed the Scott statue which sits in George Square, Glasgow and is credited as the first statue erected to honour the author. Sadly, Greenshields died before he could complete his design. Instead, working to Greenshields design, Ritchie carried out the work.

There is statue, one of the last created by Greenshields, in the gardens of Abbotsford. It is of Morris, the Gauger, from Sir Walter’s ‘Rob Roy’.

Like Forrest, Greenshields also sculpted a statue of Robert Burns. This is now the oldest extant statue of Burns in the world and is in Camperdown, Australia.

A final connection with the famous author stems from a shared surname. Carluke jam makers, R & W Scott, of the Clydesdale Preserve Works in Clyde Street, have not only used a colourful portrait of Sir Walter Scott in advertising posters but also an image showing his Princes Street Memorial constructed of jam jars.

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