Look through this unique window on the dawn of our modern game. This pivotal moment in the history of our sport is captured exquisitely through the young eyes of the artist, Jemima Wedderburn, in her beautiful watercolour painting. In the foreground, top-hatted gents, (perhaps including Sir George Clerk), and bonneted ladies, admire the wonderful scene. A cart is unloaded after a long journey with the provisions, the crampits, and curling stones necessary to play the game. In the distance, tents are erected to provide cover for sustenance, and the boathouse is clearly distinguishable on the far side of the High Pond; a view hardly changed in almost 160 years.
Until this day curling was particular to small communities, rules differing greatly from hamlet to hamlet, village to village. On 15 January 1847, at the call of the infant Grand Caledonian Curling Club, that all changed and over 300 curlers from all four corners of Scotland braved the bitter winter frosts and battled their way to Penicuik by foot, by horse, by cart or by charabanc, to take part in the very first national tournament; the first Grand Match and a turning point in world sport. On this cold, wintry day friend and foe, lord and servant, met as equals on the ice and established the tenets of our game: fraternity, kinship and camaraderie; values that curlers across the globe hold firm today. This is your exclusive opportunity to extend a hand back in time and join our forefathers on this momentous occasion.
“THE SCOTSMAN” Newspaper 16th January 1847.
“CALEDONIAN CURLING CLUB - The great national match between the north and the south sides of the Forth, which has for some time been eagerly looked forward to by the lovers of ‘the roaring game’ was played yesterday on the ponds of Sir George Clerk of Penicuick. During the previous night there was a slight thaw, but towards morning the frost again set in, at least in the high country, so that ice was all that could be desired. Twelve rinks were ultimately got up on each side, and the contest commenced at midday by the firing of a signal gun. Much skill and science were displayed by the respective parties, and the game throughout was contested so closely that the result was doubtful to the last. During the play the grounds presented an animated sight, there being as many as 328 players, and a large body of spectators.”
The Painting
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Each print is supplied numbered (1-200) and signed personally by Sir Robert Clerk, Bt. Prints are unmounted, the colour and style of mount being a personal preference, but the above illustration provides an attractive example of a print in a single mount. Double mounts produce more depth, and for collectors who prefer a title, the following inscription is provided separately for incorporation in the mount:
"The First Grand Match", Penicuik, 15th January 1847
by Jemima Wedderburn
by kind permission of Sir Robert Clerk of Penicuik Bart.