Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The famous Cutty Sark

Yesterday I showed an old postcard of the Auld Brig O'Doon in Ayr, Scotland. This is the bridge mentioned in Robert Burns' famous epic poem "Tam o' Shanter." In this poem, Tam is a drunken man riding home on his horse one night when he encounters some witches. One of these, a beautiful young witch named Nannie, is wearing a short nightshirt, or "sark," and "Cutty Sark" is Nannie's nickname. A few lines from the poem: "Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho' sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie." Cutty Sark is also the name of this ship which I once had the pleasure of visiting in Greenwich, England!

The reason this poem is important in tea history is that the Cutty Sark is one of the last of the great tea clippers, and the figurehead on the ship was inspired by the Cutty Sark of the Robert Burns poem.

I took these photos in 2004, when the ship was in dry dock in Greenwich and several years before the ship caught fire and had to be restored. What a sense of history I felt as I stood on board and admired all the rigging!

The gleeming woodwork was just magnificent!

I enjoyed peering into the quarters of the ship and imagining what it was like to be holed up in there, months at a time, trying to race back to England with a fresh shipment of tea. (SHIP-ment! I get it now!)

One of the displays on the ship even showed what the tea samples looked like. If you're a tea history geek (hand raised here), Cutty Sark the character and Cutty Sark the ship are two things it's awfully fun to know about!


  1. Austin and Glenn debated for a long time about bringing a large model of the Cutty Sark home from Boston. Fortunately, they did not. It was a VERY large model!

  2. Very interesting tea history here!

  3. Fun walking thru tea history! Love your photos of the Cutty Sark.

  4. Now that was a fun post. Always nice to learn something new.

  5. Great memories! I loved visiting the ship! I learned something...didn't now the derivation of sark! Lovely photos and post!

  6. Once again I am smarter for the readin' here, mi'lady.

    Much obliged.

    I always thought Cutty Sark was booze? LOL.

  7. The Cutty Sark is on my list for my next trip to London.

  8. Hello Angela, what an interesting post. I love the history and your photos are beautiful. Someday, when I visit England, this will be on the trip. Thanks so much, Joanie


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