Coldingham’s literary past mapped out on writer’s trail

New writers walk marked out by blue plaques in Coldingham showing houses in which noteable writers over the years have dwelled is accompanied by a book.
New writers walk marked out by blue plaques in Coldingham showing houses in which noteable writers over the years have dwelled is accompanied by a book.

The people of Coldingham might not realise it, but they are living in a place that was once a thriving hub of literary activity.

The village’s proud writing past is now being brought to the fore thanks to a new trail inviting people to visit some of the author’s homes and the places that inspired them to put pen to paper.

The Writers Village trail is the brainchild of the Coldingham Society and is accompanied by a book which will act as a guide and provide even more of an insight into the life, times and prose of the writers.

Thanks to the Society, Coldingham is now also known as a Writers Village, with the trail visiting places like Milldown and Templehall Farm, the once home of Annie S.Swan who society member Michael Fenty, referred to as the Catherine Cookson of her day.

“She was a big favourite amongst many,” he explained. “So much so that there are places in the area named after her books including St Veda’s in St Abbs and Aldersyde in Coldingham.

“And then there’s Evelyn Blantyre Simpson. She knew Robert Louis Stevenson very well and rumour has it that he was going to propose to her but then changed his mind.”

Another writer featured in the trail is 19th century journalist, essayist, critic and novelist William Tirebuck. He once had the honour of receiving a very favourable critique from Tolstoy who called his book ‘Miss Grace of all Souls’ one of “the best works of British fiction.”

The idea for the Writers Village and accompanying book stemmed from the success of the Patrick Brydone trail, which involved a number of plaques being placed in locations around Coldingham last summer.

The new trail, funded by Foundation Scotland and the AES Drone Hill Community Fund, is completed by plaques at the former homes of Eliza Logan at Milldown Farm, David Pae at Douglas Cottage, High Street and W.G Burn Murdoch at Westloch House.

Michael hopes it will not 
only help raise the profile of Coldingham to visitors but 
also help locals realise the proud literary heritage they had on their doorstep.

“Annie Swan particularly wrote about places in Berwickshire and East Lothian that people will recognise,” he added.

“I really don’t think people are aware of just how well thought of these local writers were. We’ve managed to track down a few original copies of their work, which are currently on display in the community book shop but we’re always looking for more.”

*Copies of the Writers Village book are available free of charge from the book shop next to Coldingham Hall.