A few weeks ago we carried a couple of articles on old Angus MacPherson and the early competitions that took place in London and wider southeast of England. Readers may recall Roddy Livingstone, London, sent us interesting additional information.
Roddy wrote: “It is recorded (although I can’t remember exactly where) that winners of the juvenile events at Stamford Bridge in the early 1890s included George S. McLennan [pictured] and Archibald Campbell of Kilberry.”
Now, Hamish McLennan, G. S.’s grandson who runs the excellent and informative website devoted to the legendary piper, has been in touch to confrm this and also to provide us with some more information.
He says: “Starting in 1894, the London Highland Athletic Club ran an annual Highland Games at the Stamford Bridge Athletic Grounds in London. Organised to bring together the Scottish diaspora which found themselves in the UK capital, the event attracted competitors from throughout the country and beyond.
“It was here is 1896 that G. S. McLennan, aged 13, won first prize for Piobaireachd, Strathspeys & Reels and Marches. There is no doubt that his presence was driven by Lt. John McLennan’s ambition for his son by providing a good grounding in coping with high level competition.”
Hamish’s website contains many photographs of the medals G. S. won together with a scan of a contemporary newspaper drawing of the event. Hamish has allowed us to reproduce these here:
Thank you, Hamish. If anyone else has information on these early contests in London please contact us in the usual way.
Reader, Roger Miller, has sent us this interesting painting. The painting – on a wood panel – is at least from the 18th century but possibly older:
We think the piper depicted – playing a two drone bagpipe – is not from the British Isles but possibly Dutch due to the nature of his instrument and also because of his archaic clothing; people in the south east of England and of Holland during the late 17th century and early 18th century sported clothing that was quite similar, although perhaps not quite as florid as this chap. And, despite Habbie Simpson, the famous Toun Piper of Kilbarchan, being painted with flowers in his hat, we feel this chap is not a Scottish piper!
A great many Dutch painters of this period, such as the Heemskercks (father and son), chose pipers as their themes. Most paintings depicted pipers playing amid rural scenes or in pubs. The subject is clearly a real person rather than a figment of the painter’s imagination.
Is this piper a travelling minstrel or performer of some kind? A ‘gentleman’ piper? A soldier?
We think the painting would have been a work from between 1680 to 1720.
What do readers think? Roger is researching this painting so please send any thoughts you may have to us in the usual way.