Parks of Eglinton (The)

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PARKS OF EGLINTON, THE. Scottish, Reel (4/4 time). E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Composed by fiddler-composer John French (1752-1803). It appears in his A Collection of Strathspeys, Reels &c. (c. 1801), dedicated to Mrs. Boswell of Auchinleck, and published by Gow & Shepherd, “for behoof of Mr. French’s widow and children.” The phrase may indicate that French was incapacitated, or perhaps dead, in which case either the dates of publication of the dates of his death are faulty.

Eglinton Castle was a large Gothic castellated mansion in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland. The 'Parks' are the surrounding grounds. Loudon in 1824 comments "the trees of the park are large, of picturesque form and much admired. The kitchen garden is one of the best in the country". An article in 1833 in the Gardeners' Magazine makes similar remarks and comments on the 'many hundred feet of hot houses'; however, it also notes that the 'grounds are not kept up as they ought to be'. It seems to have been soreted out by the next decade, however, for an 1840 account records:

Its princely gates soon presented themselves and we thought we should easily find our way to Irvine through the park. It was a rich treat to wander in these extensive grounds. We soon made way through a handsome avenue to the gardens. The hot-houses for fruits and flowers are on a magnificent scale, and on reaching the parterre we were delighted with the elegance which pervaded it. A glassy river with a silvery cascade came gliding gently through these fairy regions, as though conscious of the luxuriant paradise which it was watering. Nor was the classic taste wanting, nor horticultural skill, to render this a region of enchantment. Two elegant cast-iron bridges, vases, statues, a sun-dial; these pretty combinations from the world of art could not fail to please the beholder. Leaving these luxurious regions we again wandered among thick woods, and occasionally obtained glimpses of the proud castle, peering over the trees. At length we found our way to a seat beneath some noble weepers of the ash tribe, and here we had a fine view of the castle, towering majestically over the dense foliage.

Among our wanderings we passed an enormous quadrangular building, resembling some of our London hospitals. It forms the stables, and it is quite detached, at some distance from the Castle. We mistook our way, owing to the many devious paths, and wandered deeper and deeper into the recesses of this extensive domain. In passing through one long avenue, which was so dark that we were unable to see our steps; myriads of rooks took flight at our approach, and the air was quite blackened with them. At one time, we found ourselves walking alongside of the preserves, at another we were wandering in the deer park, and startling the early slumbers of these pretty creatures. At length we reached a gate, which we fully expected would lead into the high road to Irvine: but, to our great consternation, we found it was the point from which several roads diverged, each, apparently, leading into a thick forest, and it was evident that we had much space yet to traverse ere we could be clear of the extensive grounds of Eglintoun.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: French (A Collection of New Strathspey Reels &c.), 1801. Neil (The Scots Fiddle: (Vol 2) Tunes, Tales & Traditions of the Lothians, Borders), 2013; p. 207.

Recorded sources:

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