- Rob Marrs
Men’s Supper Willington Hall Friday 20th October 2017
Chester Caledonian Association is fortunate to have Stewart and Simon Begbie as members. Once again, they made Willington Hall available for the Men’s Supper on the 20th October. In the past, Simon has ensured that the menu had a distinct Scottish background. Who could forget the meal themed around the Darien Disaster? This year was no exception. The first course consisted of haggis and black pudding served with asparagus and bacon accompanied by neaps and a whisky sauce. The Scottish culinary theme continued with a selection of stovies – shin beef, pease pudding and dauphinoise potatoes. With this cornucopia of delights came the “in” vegetable of the moment - kale. It is fair to say that the sweet produced a genuine “marmite” moment amongst the members. No more than you would expect when it consisted of a deep-fried Mars bar in coconut butter with Iron Bru ice cream.
The post-prandial entertainment was supplied by former President, Murray Brown. Entitled “Allan Ramsay – Poet, Painter or Village Pub”. His interest in the poet was stimulated when his sister became the manager of the Allan Ramsay Hotel at Carlops, some 15 miles south of Edinburgh on the A702. Allan Ramsay was born in Leadhills Lanarkshire on October 15th, 1684. He trained as a wig-maker but gradually transformed himself into a bookseller, an art dealer, an expert in Scots language, a writer and a poet. He was central to the club life in Edinburgh for over thirty years. The ‘Easy Group’ which he formed & ‘The Worthies Club’ being two prime examples of the literary discussion groups at which he was the hub. He published the first edition of his poems in 1721 although, as well as his own works, he became an avid collector of Scots Songs and Scots Verse. In the latter category, he produced a seminal work, The Ever Green: being a Collection of Scots Poems wrote by the Ingenious before 1600. His most famous work, the Gentle Shepherd, is classed as a pastoral operetta. Some commentators view him as the founder of Scots poetic language used in later years by Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns.
Of his six children, his eldest son, Allan became a famous portrait artist and rose to be the court painter to George III. A statue of Ramsay the poet was erected in 1865 at the corner of Princes Street Gardens and the Mound in the centre of Edinburgh. Murray produced an interesting hand-out of photographs to illustrate some aspects of the Ramsays’ works.
Murray’s sister set up a festival in the Allan Ramsay hotel in Oct 2016 on the week-end closest to the poet’s birthday. During this festival, they recreated some of the key scenes from the Gentle Shepherd with the help of Professors Murray Pittock & Gerry Carruthers of Glasgow University. A number of heritage trails have been established around the hotel which take in the locations featured in the Gentle Shepherd. In a neat twist of fate, this is the same Professor Carruthers who is presenting this year’s The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns at the Association’s 2018 Burns Supper.
The carriages arrived at Willington Hall at around 11.30 to take the members home after a most pleasant social, gastronomic and spiritually enriching evening.
Allan Ramsay – Poet (1684 – 1758) Allan Ramsay – Painter (1713 – 1784)