The Collingwood Society is a special interest group whose focus is the life, times and legacy of Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood (1748-1810), 1st Baron Collingwood of Caldburne and Hethpoole in Northumberland – and resident of Morpeth.
Perhaps best-known to most simply as Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s friend and second-in-command at the battle of Trafalgar, Collingwood has arguably been undersold by history. He was, in his own right, an inspirational leader, a dedicated naval officer, a devoted husband and father, a shrewd strategist and a highly capable diplomat. He was a man gifted with sound judgement, a dry humour and a wonderful way with words, many of which have fortunately survived. His life was characterised both by great achievement and ultimately, great sadness.
The Society grew directly out of a highly successful, year-long Festival in 2010, which commemorated the 200th anniversary of his death.
Collingwood’s house on Oldgate in Morpeth is now the Catholic Presbytery (priest’s house) but it is usually open to the public as part of the town’s Heritage Open Days programme in September. A summer house referred to by Collingwood as his “poop deck” is in the house grounds overlooking the River Wansbeck.
There is a bust of Lord Collingwood in the Butter Market (foyer) of the Town Hall – a second cast from the mould for an original bust created by the sculptor Helen Ridehalgh for Port Mahon on Menorca where the Admiral was based as Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.
The mayor and town council of Morpeth honour the town’s naval hero every year on Trafalgar Day with the laying of a wreath on the bust and a “Toast to Lord Collingwood”.