Saturday, 6 April 2013

Prestonpans Tapestry and Redcoats at New Lanark

The Prestonpans Tapestry is on display at New Lanark until the 9th April when it will be on display at other venues in Scotland. New Lanark is a World Heritage Site in South Lanarkshire in Scotland. 

Today I went down to New Lanark to view the tapestry and also to see a group of British Army (Redcoat) re-enactors from the Edinburgh City Guard (

Prestonpans Tapestry
The tapestry depicts the journey made by Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie from France to the Scottish Highlands and victory at Prestonpans near Edinburgh. The tapestry is 104 metres wide and is made up of many embroidered panels created by volunteers.

Longest Tapestry in the World

The tapestry is the longest in the world, took 25,000 hours of work and has 10 million stitches and was created between 2006 and 2010.

Prestonpans Tapestry
There is currently a fund-raising campaign to raise the 2 million GBP needed to build a home for the tapestry in Prestonpans.

Prestonpans Tapestry

Prestonpans Tapestry

Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie

Charles Edward Stuart, called The Young Pretender, The Young Chevalier, and Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-88), was a grandson of the last Stuart monarch, James Vll of Scotland and ll of England.  

Charles Edward Stuart "Bonnie Prince Charlie" or the Young Pretender, was the last Stuart claimant to the British throne. He led the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which ended at the Battle of Culloden. 

James Vll of Scotland or ll of England was the last Catholic monarch of the United Kingdom and was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and fled to France. This was the union of English Parliamentarians and the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange). 

(Since 1701 The Act of Settlement was passed to secure the Protestant succession to the British throne and to prevent Catholics from becoming monarch). 

William and Mary

William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascending of the British throne as William III jointly with his wife Mary II. 

There were several attempts to restore the male Stuart line but none came so near to success as the campaign by Prince Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender) in 1745. 


The supporters of the deposed king and his descendants were called 'Jacobites', from the Latin for James, 'Jacobus'. Although there was Jacobite support in other areas of Britain and in continental Europe, the main stronghold was the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

The Stuarts had ambition to reclaim the throne. In 1745, Charles travelled to the Highlands to raise the Scottish clans in rebellion against the current British monarch (King George II, of the house of Hanover). His plan was to make his father, James Stuart, the 'Old Pretender', king.

Battle of Prestonpans

The Jacobite force was almost exclusively made up of Highlanders. Prince Charles landed on the small island of Eriskay and gathered the loyal clan Chiefs before advancing on Edinburgh which they took without much resistance. A government army was defeated at Prestonpans near Edinburgh.

Government army (Redcoats)
The Highlanders only wanted to take Scotland, but Prince Charles wanted the English throne as well and convinced the army to push on southwards. They advanced to Carlisle then Manchester, and eventually as far south as Derby. It was here with three armies lining up to fight them and with no back-up support in England, as promised by Prince Charles, they decided to return home.

Battle of Culloden

Eventually the weary Highlanders were cornered at Culloden and slaughtered as Charles Edward Stuart made his escape. After the battle legend has it he escaped with the help of Flora MacDonald. He wandered around Europe for a few years but was never able to further his cause.

Divine Right of Kings

The Jacobite struggle has been romanticised ever since but Jacobitism did not really stand for a noble cause as it sought to put the Stuarts back on the throne. They stood for the 'divine right of kings' which meant they believed the king was chosen by God and should have absolute authority.

The Stuarts also advocated the Catholic religion which many Scots were against as Scotland was a Protestant country and Presbyterianism was the official religion of Scotland. 

Redcoats at New Lanark

To celebrate the tapestries at New Lanark a group of re-enactors came from Edinburgh and gave an excellent display of the Government Army known as 'Redcoats'. 

Some images from this event are shown below. The weather was nice and sunny, although a little cold, and the display was much appreciated by those who were watching it.

Minister's wife and daughter
Minister getting ready to preach
Army officer
Army food
My visit to New Lanark was very enjoyable today and the re-enactors did make a very good job of bringing history to life.  

More photos can be seen here

Further information:

New Lanark World Heritage Trust

Edinburgh City Guard

Alan Breck's Prestonpans Volunteer Regiment

Prestonpans Tapestry

Bonnie Prince Charlie

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