East Lothian Antiquarians > Outings 2006/7 > Queen Victoria's visit

Queen Victoria’s Visit to Broxmouth

Friday August 23rd 1878 Had to dine at half past five. At six o’clock with much regret left dear Osborne, with Beatrice[HRH The Princess Beatrice 1857-1944 m Prince Henry of Battenberg] and Leopold[HRH Leopold Duke of Albany b 1853-d1884], and embarked on board the “Alberta ” at Trinity Pier. We had a delightful passage, but the weather looked very threatening behind us. Passing close to Osborne we saw Bertie, Alix, the boys and the King of Denmark standing on the paddle box. As we steamed across we saw the “Eurydice” lying close off what is called “No Man’s Land” as we had seen her on the day of the Review, in fearful contrast to the beautiful fleet! We at once entered the railway train. We stopped at Banbury for refreshments, and I lay down after eleven o’clock

Saturday, August 24

Had not a very good night, and was suffering from a stiff shoulder. It was a very wet morning At Dunbar, which we reached at a quarter to nine 9 where the station was very prettily decorated, were the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, the Grant-Sutties, the Provost, and Lord Haddington, Lord Lieutenant of the county. We got into one of my closed landaus-Beatrice, Leopold, the Duchess of Roxburghe and I-the others following, and drove through a small portion of Dunbar, Lord Haddington riding to Broxmouth, about a mille and a quarter from Dunbar. People all along the road, arches and decorations on the few cottages, and very loyal greetings.

The park is fine with noble trees and avenues. It is only a quarter mile from the sea, which we could see dimly as we drove from Dunbar. The house is an unpretending one, the exterior something like Claremont, only not so handsome, and without any steps leading up to the entrance. It has been added to at different times, and was much improved and furnished by the Duke’s mother who lived there. It is built on a slope; consequently on one side there is a storey more than on the other. The house is entered by a small hall, beyond which is a narrow corridor with windows on one side and doors on the other. Turning to the left and going straight on, we came to my sitting room[the Duchess’s own sitting room],with bow windows down to the ground, and very comfortably arranged. Next to it, but not opening into it was Beatrice’s sitting room, a very handsomely furnished room, in fact the drawing room. On the other side of the hall is the dining room, very nice and well furnished, but not large. Just opposite Beatrice’s room is the staircase also not large, and below it you turn to where Leopold had a room. The staircase lands on a corridor like the lower one. My bedroom is just over the sitting room, with a nice little dressing room to the right next to it [the duchess’s room]Next to the bedroom on the other side my two maids’ room, then Jane Ely’s[The Marchioness of Ely, Lady of the Bedchamber], and beyond Beatrice’s and the maids’ at the end; just outside the corridor Brown’s. All most comfortable.

As it was raining I did not go out, but soon afterwards went upstairs. After dressing ,came down stairs and rested, and read and wrote. I had tea with Beatrice ,and at a quarter past five, the weather having cleared, drove out with her, the Duke of Roxburghe, and Leopold; Lady Ely, the Duke, General Ponsonby and Mr Yorke in the second carriage and Lord Haddington on horseback in his uniform We drove to, and through Dunbar, escorted by the East Lothian Yeomanry. The town was beautifully decorated and admirably kept. There were triumphal arches and many very kind inscriptions. We turned into the park in front of the house, formerly occupied by the Lord Lauderdale of that day, facing the old castle of Dunbar(of which very little remains) to which Queen Mary was carried as a prisoner by Bothwell after the murder of Darnley ,and where lies the harbour-a very small one. Thence past the old watch-tower hill called Knockenhair, where some gypsies-in fact “the gypsy queen”-from Norwood had encamped; and where we saw several women, very dark and rather handsome and well dressed, standing close to the wall.

Sunday August 25th

A fine hot morning. After breakfast, walked with Beatrice down under the trees to the left, along a break next to the Broxburn, on to the end of the walk which led to the garden wall, on which roses were growing, and which is quite on the sea, which was of a deep blue. The rocks are very bad for boats. There is a walk along the top of the rocks that overhang the sea-the Links. This road goes on to Dunbar, which, with its fine church that stands so high as to be a landmark, is well seen from here. We walked back again, and I sat out near the house on the grass, under one of the small canopies which we had brought with us, and signed papers and wrote.

Monday August 26

Again, this dear and blessed anniversary returns and again, without my beloved blessed one; But he is ever with me in spirit. [HRH Prince Albert, Prince Consort, b 26 Aug 1919 d14 Dec 1861]

When I came down to breakfast, I gave Beatrice a mounted enamelled photograph of our dear mausoleum, and a silver belt of Montenegrin workmanship. After breakfast I gave my faithful Brown an oxidised silver biscuit box and some onyx studs. He was greatly pleased with the former, and the tears came to his eyes, and he said “It is too much”. God knows it is not, for one so devoted and faithful. I gave my maids also trifles from Dunbar; and to Jane Ely, the gentlemen, and the servants a trifle each, in remembrance of the dear day and of the place.

Walked out at half past ten with Beatrice and the Duchess to the very fine kitchen garden, and to the splendid hothouse, where they have magnificent grapes. The peaches are also beautiful. From here we walked again along the burn side to the sea. The duchess’s pretty and very amiable collie[smaller than Noble, but with a very handsome head, Rex, going with us. We looked at the

“ Lord Warden”, (Captain Freemantle),which arrived yesterday from Spithead, where we saw her in the Fleet. She had been guardship last year.

There is a pretty view from this walk to the sea over a small lake, with trees beyond which is Dunbar seen in the distance. Then I sat out in the garden and wrote. after that, when Beatrice returned from a walk near the sea with the Duchess, I went to look at the gravestone of Sir William Douglas, which is quite concealed amongst the bushes near the lawn.The Battle of Dunbar took place[September 3rd,1650] close to Broxmouth, and Sir Walter Scott says, Cromwell’s camp was in the park; but this is doubtful, as it is described as on the north of the Broxburn. Leslie’s camp was on the Doune [Doon] hill, conspicuous for miles around. When the Scottish army left their strong positions on the hill, they came to the low ground near the park wall. Cromwell is said to have stood on the hillock, where the tower in the grounds has been built, and the battle must have been fought close to the present park gate. I afterwards planted a deodar [Himalayan cedar] on the lawn in the presence of the Duke and Duchess.

At half past three, started with Beatrice, Leopold and the Duchess in the Landau and four, the Duke, Lady Ely,General Ponsonby and Mr Yorke going in the second carriage, and Lord Haddington riding the whole way. We drove through the west part of Dunbar,which was very full, and where we were literally pelted with small nosegays, till the carriage was full of them, by a number of young ladies and girls; then on for some distance past the village of Belhaven, Knockindale hill [Knockenhair],where were stationed, in their best attire, the queen of the gipsies, an oldish woman with a yellow handkerchief on her head, and a youngish, very dark, and truly gipsy-like woman in velvet and a red shawl, and another woman. The queen is a thorough gipsy, with a scarlet cloak and yellow handkerchief round her head. Men in red hunting coats, all very dark, and all standing on a platform here, bowed and waved their handkerchiefs. It was the English queen of the gypsies from Norwood not the Scottish Border one.

We next passed the paper mills, where were very many people, as indeed there were at every little village and in every direction. We turned to the right, leaving the Traprain Law, a prominent hill, to the left, crossed the Tyne and entered the really beautiful park of Tyninghame-Lord Haddington’s. More splendid trees and avenues of beech and sycamore, and one very high holly hedge. The drive under the avenues is very fine, and at the end of them you see the sea.We could however, see it but faintly because of the haze. We passed close to the house, a handsome one, half Elizabethan, with small scotch towers, and a very pretty terrace garden, but we did not get out. Driving on through the park, which reminded me of Windsor and Windsor forest, we again came upon the high road and passed by Whitekirk, a very fine old church, where numbers of people were assembled, and very soon after, we saw through the haze the high hill of North Berwick Law, looking as though it rose up out of the sea, and another turn or two brought us to Tantallon, which is close to and overhangs the sea. We drove along the grass to the old ruins, which are very extensive. Sir Hew Dalrymple, to whom it belongs received us, and took us over the old remains of the moat, including the old gateway, on which the royal standard had been hoisted. Lady Dalrymple {a Miss Arkwright] received us. No one else was there but Sir David Baird, who had joined us on the way on horseback. Sir Hew Dalrymple showed me about the ruins of this very ancient castle, the stronghold of the Douglases. It once belonged to the Earl of Angus, second husband to Queen Margaret[wife of James 1V],and was finally taken by the Covenanters.

It was unfortunately so hazy that we could not distinguish the Bass Rock, though usually it is quite distinctly seen, being so near and all the fine surrounding coast was quite invisible. There was a telescope, but we could see nothing through it; it was besides, placed too low. Seated on sofas near the ledge of the rock, we had some tea, and the scene was extremely wild. After this we left, being a good deal hurried to get back (as it was already past six), and returned partly the same way, by Binning Wood, also belonging to Lord Haddington(which reminds one of Windsor Forest),but which we would not drive through, through Tyninghame village to Bellowford [Beltonford],where the cross road turned off. This brought sooner back and we reached Broxmouth by twenty five minutes to eight, Lord Haddington riding the whole way.

We dined at half past eight, only the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe with ourselves. At ten or eleven o’clock we left Broxmouth with regret, as we had spent a most pleasant time there. We went in the same carriage(a landau),the Duchess of Roxburghe with us, and were driven by the same horses which had been out each day, including this day’s long drive, the postillion, Thomson riding admirably. Dunbar was very prettily illuminated, and the paper mills also.We took leave of the kind Duke and Duchess with real regret, having enjoyed our visit greatly. All had gone so well.

Extracted from Queen Victoria’s Highland Journals edited by David Duff [1968 edition]

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