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The History of Blairgowrie
Chapter VIII


Castles and Mansions:—Ardblair—Clunie — Drumlochy—Glaselune—Gormack—Knock-ma-har—Kinelaven—Lady Lindsay’s Castle—Tower of Lethendy—Loch Blair—Murthly—Newton—Castle of Rattray—Craig-hall—Parkhill—Blairgowrie House—Druidsmere—Meikleour—Del vine —Ballied—Logie—Falcon House—Altamont—Mount Ericht.—Legends, Ballads, &c. “ Oh! wae’s me, Cluny “Hey! an’ How!”—Elegaic Poem on Bishop Rattray—The Green Ladye o’ Newton—Ye Bailzies o’ Blair—The Curlers’ Dinner, 1745.

Ardblair Castle,

AN old building, about a mile west from Blairgowrie. Up to 1895 (when structural alterations were made to modernise it. It still retained its courtyard form, with a good entrance gateway surmounted by a coat of arms, monogram, and date-panel marked 1B68. In the monogram the letter “B” is distinctly visible, referring to the family of “Blair,” who long were in possession.

The dwelling-house was on the right, with cellars and servants’ accommodation on the left. The former was a simple oblong, with vaulted cellars on the ground floor, and a room on each of the upper floors. The staircase is contained in a wing, which juts out to the west as well as to the south, so as to command two sides of the main block with shot-holes. The old entrance door of the house is in the re-entering angle of the wing, and is of a very remarkable design: the ornament and sculptured band surrounding the recess for owner’s crest, bearing a similarity to 17th century monuments.

The estate was in the possession of Thomas Blair, son of Blair of Balthayock, from the reign of David II., and was of great extent. The site of the Castle was then defended by a loch, long since diminished by drainage, so that it is now at some distance from the building. The Blairs of Ardblair were mixed up with all the local feuds, and had occasionally to pay the penalty. The entrance to the Castle is through a beautiful avenue of trees, at once the glory and pride of Ardblair, said to have been planted after the Battle of Culloden in token of the loyalty to Prince Charlie of the Oliphants of Cask, to whom the estate had passed, and to whose descendants it now belongs.

The Castle of Clunie

Is a simple and well-preserved structure, which stands on an island in the loch of Clunie, about 5 miles west of Blairgowrie. The locality was in early times dignified with the presence of a much more imposing castle, said to have been the summer palace or hunting-seat of Kenneth M‘Alpin in the ninth century. As a stronghold of some note it was occupied in 1290 by Edward I.


Clunie Loch and Castle.

It stood on the “Castle Hill,” a level platform on the west side of the loch. In 1377 John De Ross was appointed, by Robert II., keeper of the Castle of Clunie, and the lands afterwards passed into the possession of the See of Dunkeld.

The existing Castle on the island is stated to have been built by Bishop Brown (1485-1511) as a quiet retreat. The building has been restored and put in good order, probably about the end of last century. At the Reformation the Bishop was a Crichton, who disposed of the Castle to a relative of his own, Robert Crichton of Eliock, in Dumfriesshire. This gentleman took up residence in the Castle, and a sou was born to him in 1660—James Crichton, afterwards known as the “Admirable Crichton.” The estate eventually passed into the hands of the Earls of Airlie, and is now possessed by Mr Cox of Suaigow.

The Castle of Drumlochy

Stood opposite Glasclune on the east side of the ravine which separates the parishes of Blairgowrie and Kinloch. The Blairs of Glasclune and the Herons of Drumlochy were at constant feud, “ which the proximity of their strongholds afforded them abundant opportunity of gratifying by a constant and harassing system of petty warfare, attended with considerable bloodshed on both sides, till at length the struggle was ended in the total discomfiture of the Laird of Drumlochy and the demolition of his fortress.” A few fragments are all that remain.

The Castle of Glasclune

(The home of the Blairs of Glaschine), now in ruins, stands on the west side of the ravine formed by a tributary of the Lornty, about 2 miles N.W. of Blairgowrie.

The foundations of the main portions are visible, but the round tower at the north-east angle, with the north gable and the southern part of the block, arc pretty well preserved.

The stonework of the central block was ruthlessly demolished in order to be used elsewhere on the estate. The remains are so imperfect that the internal arrangements cannot now be made out. The entrance doorway and staircase were in the round tower connected with the south wing, and the principal rooms were no doubt on the first floor.

Close by, in 1392, was fought the Battle of Glasclune, and from this Castle marched the murderers to the Drummond Massacre, 1554.

Herring (or Heron) is half suspected of the Drummond conspiracy, though not named. Wit It the “Hays” of Gourdie also he had an unsettled quarrel, 'which, but for his pride, might have been settled by a matrimonial alliance with the young laird. Hay was in love with one of Heron’s daughters, and on the occasion of paying her a nocturnal visit, was shot by her father, who, feeling his cup about full and vengeance everywhere in the rear, betook himself to the army in the “Mar” rebellion, which made his bitter cup to run over, as on the suppression of the rebellion, lie dared to retreat to his private stronghold, when they ferreted him out. Finding the Castle surrounded, he jumped out at a window, escaped, and sailed for France, where in remorse and misery he lingered out a wretched existence.

The Castle of Gormack.

There are now no remains of the Castle of Gormack to be traced, but it is supposed to have stood near the site of the present farm-house of West Gormack.

It belonged to the family of But tar, and was a place of considerable strength in 1550.

The Castle of Knock-Ma-Har

Has, like its neighbour of Gormack, entirely disappeared, and no trace can be got where it existed.

The Castle of Kinclaven

Is situated on the right bank of the Tay, about 5 miles south-west from Blairgowrie. It consists of a square enclosure measuring about 130 feet over the walls which are 74 feet in thickness, and in height vary from 15 to 25 feet. Circular towers were at each of the angles, entered from the courtyard by narrow doors. The principal entrance was near the south end of the west side, ; and is 9 feet 8 inches wide, and was provided with portcullis. There is a postern about 2 feet wide in the centre of the south front, defended by a square tower of which only part of one side now remains. The walls show neither shot nor loop holes—these probably being confined to the flanking towers of the interior buildings, not a vestige of which remains. The Castle was a royal tl residence in the time of Alexander III., and is mentioned tn 1264, when payments are made for the carriage of wine to Kinclaven, and for the repairing of a boat. Early in 12(J7, Edward I., in his progress northwards, visited Kinclaven and stayed there one night; and, in the year 1299, Wallace with a handful of men attacked it and put the entire garrison to the sword. An iron plate fixed on the Castle walls commemorates this exploit—“Wallace took this fort in the year 1290. Placed A.n., 1869.”

Although demolished by the Scots, the castle was evidently put in order again, and in 1335 was held by Edward III., then master of Scotland, but in the following year was recaptured by the Scots.

In its decay the spacious court has been turned into an orchard, and its walls give support to innumerable creepers, which give a touch of the picturesque to the extensive ruins.

Lady Lindsay’s Castle

Stood on an impending ledge near Crag Liach—the Eagle’s Crag—north-west from Craighall. The crag is a huge mass of conglomerate, a sheer grey precipice, and almost as smooth as though dressed by a mason’s chisel. At the base is a cave which seems to have been cut out by the violent removal of some masses of rock. Viewed from the top of the crag, the spectator becomes impressed with awe; far below the ireful Ericht wheels round an abrujit angle and suddenly composes itself in a great pool, calm, deep, and black as night.

Xear the brink of the ledge are some uncertain vestiges of what is said to have been a round tower, part of a castle in which a Lady Lindsay was immured, in her latter days, to expiate a heinous crime.

That lady was Janet Gordon, of the noble house of Huntly, and grand-daughter of James I., and whose first husband was Alexander, master of Crawford. He was an unprincipled desperado, renewed a family feud with the house of Glamis, took part against his father in his struggle for James III., and became the leader of a lawless band who ravaged the lands of friends and foes alike. In one of his forays he came in contact with his younger brother John, and, joining in single combat, the younger brother wounded the elder.

Alexander was removed to Inverqueich Castle (east from Alyth), where he is said to have died of his wounds The popular belief, however, was that he was smothered

in his bed, with the knowledge and 6ouuivan,ce of his wife. The family records support this view, as an M.S., dated 1586, says—“ He was smorit be his wife.”

Tradition says that the murder of Lord Lindsay was I not unavenged. Although Lady Lindsay had two other husbands, her spirit, when she died, haunted the hoary Castle of Inverqueich, where her nightly lamentations were heard for ages. The forms of herself and her husband were often seen on the narrow cliff between the Castle and the Isla, where, on bended knee and clad in snowy weeds, she craved the forgiveness of her husband.

Tired of her importunities at Inverqueich, he is said to have doomed her latterly to live out her penance to | the end of time on Crag liiaeh, where the unfortunate lady was not allowed to remain idle, as her restless spirit had to abide in the eerie tower of hei Castle until she I should have spun an unbroken thread long enough to 1 reach the heavens and form a ladder for her ascent to the realms of peace, to enjoy for ever the society of I her injured lord.

The Tower of Lethendy.

The residence of Col. Gammell, is situated on the steep I banks of a small stream, about 4 miles south-west from Blairgowrie. The original building is supposed to have been founded about 1570, by Sir David Herring (Heron) of the family of Herring of Drumlochy. The structure was three storeys in height, with walls of great thickness, I and the lower and some of the upper apartments are vaulted in mason work.

The old entrance door was on one face of the block, 1 with the staircase to both floors on the adjoining wing.

In a panel above the door is a shield bearing the arms of the Herrings (Heron), the family to whom the fortress] belonged, with the date 1678. Extensive additions were made to the old edifice in 1885, in the Scottish baronial1 ; style, and the old “tower” was converted into the kitchen and servants’ apartments. The new additions were built with the warm-tinted old red sandstone from a quarry on the estate. There is a lofty tower, surmounted by a penthouse and corner corbelled turrets, forming a most pietum esqtie feature in the landscape. The old tower seems to have been surrounded by a moat, and there is a stately hedge-row on the west side.

The Castle of Loch Blair

Was built on a slightly rising eminence about a mile south of Blairgowrie; it is supposed to have been a small structure built in a rude, rough style, early in the fifteenth century. It belonged to a family named Coupar, the only one of whom we have record being Andrew, who wTas brutally murdered near Meigle in 1706. He is said to have been a stubborn, morose, young gentleman, caring little for anything save what he got in the *aile stoup ” or the saddle.

There are no vestiges to be found of this castle, and it is supposed to have been demolished and swept away by the ruthless destructors of property during the rebellion of ’45. The site of it is said to be near where Rosemount mansion is now built, a few magnificent fir trees marking the spot.

The Castle of Murthly

Is a fine old building, situated on the Tay, about 7 miles west from Blairgowrie. The original Castle seems to have been a small keep at the south-west corner of the courtyard, with an apartment on each floor about 14 feet square, and a staircase in a slightly projecting turret at the south-east corner. The structure has at different times been very largely added to, and extended into three sides of a courtyard. The greatest extensions were probably erected after the estate came into the possession of

The Stewarts Barons of Grandtully, in 1615. The central portion of the building is evidently the latest addition, containing the entrance door, hall, &c. These are on the first floor, and the entrance door is at the top of a double "flight of exterior stairs. The whole series of erections form a striking and picturesque pile. In the beginning of this century the sixth baronet commenced a new mansion

I in the Elizabethan style, which still stands unfinished, lot far from the old castle. In 1891, on the death of the j.ast of the Stewaits, the estates passed into the possession of Mr Stewart Fothringham of Fothringliam, Forfarshire.

The Old Castle of Newton

Is situated immediately to the north-west of the town, and is supposed to have been built in the early part of the 14tli century.

To the south-east is an angle tower, square in form, which contains the staircase ; the north-west tower is circular below, and brought out to the square form on the top storey with corbelling. It was sacked by the Marquis of Moutrose in 1615, and again in 1650 by Cromwell Several additions have been made to the structure at various times, 1735, 1839, and 1885. and it is now in good repair, quite modernised but retains many of its old features. Like many other old buildings it is said to be possessed of a ghost in the form of a lady dressed iu green, “ the green lady,” who still haunts some apartments

The Castle of Rattray,

All traces of which have now been lost, originally stood on the “ Castle Hill,” a large mound south-east of Rattray, and was built by Alanus de Rattray, a favourite of 'William the Lion, about 1170. An old MS. says “ The Castle of Rattray hath a pleasant situation upon a little green mound about a quarter of a mile in length the castell stood upon the east end thereof, with a chapel lower down. The arms of that family are—Shield—azure three crosses of Jerusalem; supporters, two serpents crest, above a mullet or heart proper. Motto—‘Super siderae votum’—(My desires are above the stars.)” There is traditionary evidence that the Rattrays took part in the Crusades, which would account for the crosses the special symbol of the Crusaders.

About the time of the Reformation the family seem to have vacated the Castle of Rattray and erected a new fortress at Craigliall, as in all records after 1G50 the family are designated as of Craighall. The estates have however, been in possession of the Rattray family and their descendants for about 800 years.

Craighall.

The present house of Craighall is generally supposed to have been built about 1650, as in all family reeordi after that time the Rattrays are designated “of Craighall.” The house is about three miles from Blairgowrie, and the scenery is of the most picturesque description. Pennant, the traveller, describes its position—“The situation of it is romantic beyond description; it is placed in the midst of a deep glen, surrounded on all sides with wide extended dreary heaths, where are still to be seen the rude monuments of thousands of out ancestors who fought and fell; ” while Sir W. Hooker describes the mansion of Craighall as “ clinging like a swallow’s nest to the craggiest summit of the eastern bank, and harmonising perfectly with the adjoining rocks.”


Craighall

“We stand upon the dizzy height
And feel a thrill of strange delight;
Far down below dark Ericht glides,
The tall pines towering o’er its sides,
On bank and brae wave birken bowers,
And spreading beech guard mountain flowers.

“Uprising from its rocky bed
Thy noble mansion rears its head;
For ages it hath firmly stood
Unscathed by storm or angry flood.
And long may Heaven protect and spare
Craighall so wild and yet so fair! ”

The view from the balcony overlooking the river is very striking. The restless and turbulent stream—“ the ireful Ericht”—dashes through the deep ravine with resistless force, and its impetuous course can be traced from this point for a considerable distance. The foliage which clothes the naked rocks with verdure is abundant, but despite its appearance the spectator, placed on this giddy height, can never forget that he is standing on the verge of a dangerous precipice, whilst he sees the river boiling in fury far below him. Prom other parts of the mansion wride stretches of sylvan scenery are visible, though an irresistible fascination carries him always back to this balcony as the most wildly romantic standpoint of all.

Near Craighall the road is lined with venerable beeches, and their bright green foliage is a welcome shade in summer from the scorching heat of the sun. The house itself bursts quite unexpectedly upon the visitor, affording a most agreeable surprise. There are numerous walks among the policies around, those having the best views being up the ravine. A short way up the higher walk is placed a rustic seat, from which a most effective view is obtained, and no one has an idea of the extent of Craighall House, or the romantic beauty with which it blends itself, until he has seen it from this point. Almost opposite is Crag Liach, a rock rising from the river’s side to the perpendicular height of over 200 feet, and so smooth that it looks as if Nature had used a plumb in its construction. A little further up and upon the verge of a precipice is the remains of a tower—Lady Lindsay’s Castle. About a mile from the entrance is a foghouse, from which a fine view is seen down the ravine. Further up, at Land’s End, where the walk ends, there is a beautiful cascade, formed by the waters of a burn falling from a height of 20 feet into a natural l>asin, which again discharges its waters over the rock into the Ericht.

The ravine, the bottom of which is reached by numerous zig-zag walks, along the face of, and far up the sides of the rocks, is lined with hazel and alder, so dense that the river in some places in scarcely discernible; nearer the top the birch and the rowan trees bloom in beauty, while in summer the air is redolent With incense—the breath of many noble specimens of pinnaceai which adorn the grounds.

Craighall and neighbourhood have been invested with a new and powerful interest since the publication of the Life of Scott by his son-in-law, Mr J. Gibson Lockhart. During the greater part of the summer of 1793, Sir Walter Scott enjoyed an excursion which much extended his knowledge of Highland scenery and character, and, in particular, furnished him with the richest stores, which he afterwards turned to account in many of his poems and romances. After mentioning several of the places he visited, the narrative proceeds:—“ Another resting-place was Craighall, in Perthshire, the seat of the llattrays, a family relative to Mr Clerk who accompanied him. From the position of this striking place, as Mr Clerk at once perceived and as the author at once confessed to him, that of the Tullyveolan of Waverley was very faithfully copied.”

The kindness of the Craighall family, in affording the public free access to the grounds, is worthy of the highest commendation, and ought to inspire with gratitude all who have the privilege of visiting them. The boon, however, like too many other public privileges, has not been appreciated as it ought to have been—indeed, it has been frequently abused, and may lead to the grounds being made exclusively private. Tuesdays and Fridays are free days ; on other days a small charge is made on visitors, the proceeds of which go to the Perth Infirmary.

Parkhill,

Occupying one of the best sites in Perthshire, and commanding a most extensive view of the Howe of Strathmore, was built in 1887 by Capt. Charles Hill-Whitson, whose ancestors first came to Parkhill about the year 1600.

This is the fourth mansion which succeeding lairds have built, but this present one exceeds former buildings in extent, choice of sight, substantiality, furnishing, and finishing.

Blairgowrie House,

The residence of the Superior of the Burgh, was built in 1792 by Col. Allan Macpherson. It is a plain building outwardly, but the internal arrangements are on a magnificent scale of elegance combined with comfort. Extensive additions were made in 1890. The house is beautifully situated within well laid-out policies.

Druidsmere,

The residence of Mr I. Henry-Anderson, S.S.C., and situated a mile south of Blairgowrie, forms a very dominant feature, reminding one of the old French chateaux, so frequently met with in the south of France, with their lofty corner turrets and high-pitched roofs.

Meikleour,

The property of the Marquis of Lansdowne, is an extensive pile, beautifully situated on the banks of the Tay, near its junction with the Isla. The house consists of a centre of three storeys, with parallel wings of two storeys, and a range in right angle behind the south wing.

Before the house, and bounded on the south by the Tay, is a beautiful lawn, on which there are some noble specimens of the elm, beech, larch, plane, and oak. A little to the north-east of the house, on the margin of the lawn, is a bronze dial, on which is engraved the Meikleour Arms. About a fourth-of-a-mile east is the great Beech Hedge, recognised to be one of the arboreal wonders of the world.

Delvine House

Is situated on a square of 180 acres, steep on all sides, and elevated 60 feet above the surrounding plain.

There are traces of a Roman station about 500 yards square—part of a redoubt near the eastern point of the area on the top of the bank—a long line from east to west—and on the western part of the hill a strong semicircular fort fenced on the east side by five ramparts of earth and as many ditches. This is recognised as one of the stations which Agricola established before his engagement with Gaigacus, a.d. 81. Delvine is the residence of Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie.

Ballied House,

The residence of Major Campbell of Achalader, on a commanding site, beautifully embosomed among the trees, is about 3 miles west from Blairgowrie.

Logie House,

3 miles west, is the residence of Mr David M'Ritchie, F.S.A., Scot.

Falcon House,

At the west end of the town, is the residence of Lieut.-Col. Surgeon G. G. MacLaren.

Altamont House

Is finely situated 011 the rising ground to the west of Blairgowrie House, and belongs to Dr George Ballingall.

Mount Ericht,

The property of Mr James Ogilvy, is a substantial residence on the rising ground up from the Bridge of Blairgowrie.

LEGENDS, BALLADS, ETC.

“Oh, wae’s me, Cluny!”

There is a. legend connected with the district that the laird of Clunie shot the laird of Lochblair dead, in the Churchyard of Caputh, in consequence of the former marrying the sweetheart of the latter. A ballad, of which the following are a few lines, says:—

Oh, wae’s me, Cluny!
Wi’ your ha's an’ your towers,
You’ve wedded ray Jeanie
Wi’ your orchards and flowers.

* * * * *

There’s gold in my coffers
But there’s nane in Lochblair.

* * * * *

Bonnie Andro Coupar,
His sword out he drew,
And he swore that thro’
Cluny He wad mak’ it gae thro.

“Hey! an’ How!

Part of a refrain of another and older ballad relates also to the neighbourhood, and to two rival families:—

Hey! the Birds o’ Benothy! and
How! the Bissats o’ Kerold!

Tradition says that a beautiful daughter of tho former was sent daily by her parents to the kirkyard of Bendochy to walk there, to keep her iu mind of her mortal change.

Elegaic Poem on Bishop Rattray.

There is preserved a Latin elegaic poem on Bishop Rattray’s death iu Hexameter and Pentameter verse, by the Rev. Mr Skinner, author of “Tullochgorum,”:—

“Dun. numerat doctum renitens ecclesia prolem
Totque videt sanctos undique lseta patres.
Dum depressa jacet, nec concutit hoeresis arma,
Opprimet, heu I subitus gaudia tanta dolor!
Cessit Rattraius fato, Rattraius et ille,
Quern timuere hostes, quem coluere boni.” .

Which may be translated in the same measure:—

Now that our church again shining beholds a numerous offspring,
Now that, all around, fathers so holy abound,
Now that heresy vanquish’d lies, nor raises a weapon,
On a sudden, lo! joys are extinguished in woe.
By the Divine decree Rattray has gone, even he whom
Enemies all did fear, good men all did revere.

The Green Ladye o’ Newton.

The ladye Jean sits in her bower,
Her cheeks are like the snaw;
She winna work, she canna play.
Sin’ Ronald’s gaed awa’.

“Gae bring tae me the crimson silk,
Gae bring tae me the blue;
Gae bring my siller-buckled shoon,
My satyne boddice new.

“An’ busk me in my cramasie,
But an’ the velvet black,
My perlin’s fine, an’ gowden kame,
To wile my fause love back.”

Up an’ spak a grey auld wife,
Was fourscore years an’ mae
“Licht, licht’8 the luve that can be coft
Wi’ gowd an’ buskins gay.

“But an’ ye be young Ronald’s bryde,
A sair darg ye maun dree;
For the witchin’ claith ye canna buy
Wi’ the red an’ white monie.

“Gae cut a bout o’ the kirkyard grass,
An’ a branch frae the rowan tree
That stands by itsel’ on the Gallows Knowe,
Whar they hanged the murderers three.

“Gae twist an ell-lang rashy wyth,
An’ tak’ them doon alane
Tae the Coble Pule, ’tween the licht an’ the dark,
An’ sit on the Corbie Stane.”

She has ta’en her a bout o’ the kirkyard grass,
An’ a branch frae the rowan tree,
That stands by itsel’ on the Gallows Knowe,
Whar they hang'd the murderers three.

She has twisted an ell-lang rashy wyth,
An’ sits in her bower alane,
Wi’ her heart in a lowe, at the thocht o’ her luve,
An’ she waits till the day is gane.

An’ at nicht she gaed tae the Coble Pule,
The licht an’ the dark atween,
An’ a’ that nicht, frae dark tae licht,
She sat wi’ steekit een.

She hadna sat an oor ava,
Never an oor but ane,
Whan she heard the win’ sough thro’ the trees
Wi’ an eerie, eerie grane.

An’ next she heard the howlets’ cry
Within the saughen wud,
An’ next the water kelpies’ rout
Aboon the Ericht’s flood.

An’ then she heard, jist at her lug,
A gruesome, eldritch lauch;
An’ then a voice cam’ up the stream
Frae oot the Mill o’ Haugh:—

“Warlock wabsters, ane an’ a’,
Weave the witchin’ claith ;
Warp o’ grass an’ weft o’ rash—
Weave the web o’ death.”

But aye she sat, an’ aye she sat,
Nor spak’ the lang nicht thro’,
She was deadly cauld, an’ her heart was glad
Whan the early gor-cock crew.

An’ at the dawin’ o’ the day,
Whan she oped her steekit een,
She wis dinket out frae head tae heel
In the witchin’ claith o’ green.

* * * * *

There’s mirth an’ daffin’ in Newton Ha’—
The lady Jean’s a bryde;
She’s cled in a gown o' the witchin’ claith,
An’ she stands at Ronald’s side.

“Wae’s me for you, my ain true love,
That ever this should be;
But a mortal cauld is at my heart,
I fear that I maun dee.

“An’ I hear a soon’ that I heard afore,
Whan a’ my leafu’ lane,
Thro’ the mirk midnicht tae the mornin’ licht
I sat on the Corbie Stane.”

They hae ta’en her up tae a chamber hie,
An’ sune she steekit her een;
They hae streekit her corpse on the brydal bed,
In her brydal bed o’ green.

They hae streekit her oot i’ the cauld munelicht,
An’ tae Knockie Hill they hae gane,
They hae howkit her grave, an’ happit her doon,
An’ set at her head a stane.

An’ every year at Hallowe’en,
That stane, whan it hears the soon’
O’ the midnicht bell frae the Paroch Kirk,
Turns three times roun’ an’ roun’.

An’ the ladye Jean comes oot frae the mools,
An’ doon tae the Newton Ha’.
Frae sic a sicht, on that ghaistly nicht,
The gude Lord keep us a’.

Ye Bailzies o’ Blair.
(By John Bridie, Bailie in 1871.)

Oh, mony a sang has been made aboot men
That never existed, or fowk dinna ken;
But for my sang an’ subjec’ ye’re a’ boun’ tae care;
An’ why should ye no? it’s ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

Some names dinna fully express what they mean,
An’ your technical phrases are hard to be seen;
But this simple teetle should plainly declare
It’s inherent importance—ye Bailzie o’ Blair!

Does ony ane question the greatness an’ worth
O’ this awful official that reigns i’ the north?
Jist let him get fou’ an’ disorderly there,
An’ he’ll sune ken what’s meant by ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

The frolicsome fellows that caper an’ spree,
Excursionists starring frae Perth an’ Dundee,
An’ tinklers an’ poachers ken hoo tae beware
O’ the dread definition o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

The laddies that pilfer the gardens o’ fruit,
The carter or cadger that trachles his brute,
The bullies that fecht, an’ the brawlers that swear,
A’ try tae keep clear o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair!

But, while evil-doers their terrors may tell,
There is praise an’ protection for them that do well;
Though he punishes roguery, a’ that is fair
Has aye the support o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

I sing nae o’ ane o’ the lot, but them a’—
Some—peace to their memory—dead an’ awa’;
For through saxty simmers twa dizzen or mair
Hae rejoiced i’ the name o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

Even far i’ the past, whan the office was new,
Whati the toon was but sma’, an’ the fowk wit but few,
Great honour was shown tae the poo’ers that were,
An’ a special respec’ to ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

The urchins wad look wi’ the tail o’ their e’e,
An’ wonder a real live Justice tae see;
Oh! a demi-diveenity, passin’ compare,
Wis that wonderfu’ body, ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

But time, that tries a’thing, has altered the scene—
Hoo changed is the village frae what it has been!
Hoo grand are the buildings, the Brig, an’ the Square!
Hoo wide the domains o’ ye Bailzie o' Blair!

Hoo changed are the fowk, too! they lang since began
To discover a Bailzie was only a man ;
An’, if it wis possible, sune they micht dare
Tae doot the guid sense o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

Even now some vile bodies tak’ counsel thegither
Tae rail at their chief quasi-olerk o’ the weather,
An’ if it be stormy, ower weet, or ower fair,
It’s laid at the door o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

If dust blaws about by the wind on the street;
If mud fyles the soles o’ the burgesses’ feet;
If your drains are deficient, or dirty your stair,
Wha else gets the blame, but ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

Yet it’s only a few that prefer sic a chairpe,
An’ find their amusement in swearin’ at lairge ;
The common guid feelin’ aye saves frae despair
The sensitive heart o’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

What a comfort tae fowk in positions o’ trust
To believe the great soul o’ the world tae be just,
While dischargin’ their duty but favour or fear
Frae the Queen on the throne to ye Bailzie o’ Blair. '

But what compensation tor trouble sae fit
As tae bring up your biter to let him be bit?
Ah ! the impudent sinner is sure o’ his share
When he comes to the bench wi’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

Alas! for oor new fangled notions, for now
We can never get up a municipal row;
Where noo are the cliques an’ Committees? where
The fun an’ the feastin’ wi’ ye Bailzie o’ Blair?

Hoo mony a battle again and again
Did the burgesses fecht for their favourite men ;
Aye, an’ some o’ the candidates, glamoured wi’ glare,
Paid weel for the office o’ Bailzie o' Blair.

But hoo pleasant tae think that the siller gaed doon
Wi’ a singular e’e “to the guid o’ the toon,”
An’ tae see the recruited raw levies repair
Tae vote for ye generous Bailzie o’ Blair.

Noo a’ this amusement will soon be forgotten,
The ballot will alter the mode o’ the votin’,
An’ foivk should be able tae tell tae a hair
The popular choice o' ye Bailzie o’ Blair.

But mony mair changes are coming apace
Tae strengthen municipal rule i’ the place;
We’ll soon hae officials enough an’ to spare—
For ane, we are getting three Bailzies tae Biair.

Whatever may happen may all of us “rest
An’ be thankfu ” to Providence, hopiu' the best;
May we aye gie oor hearty guid wishes in prayer
For the toon, an’ the fowk, an’ ye Bvilzies o’ Biair.

The Curlers’ Dinner, 1745.

There is a tradition which world lead us to believe that as far back as 1745 the Curlers of Blair were playing a keen match on the Lochy, when' some of l'rince Charlie’s Highlanders invaded Eppie Clark’s Inn at Hill of Blair, where the Curlers’ dinner was set ready, and consumed all the beef and greens. Both sides on that occasion lost the prize, and the landlord more than likely lost the reckoning. In an “ode” written by the late Mr Bridie, and recited at the centenary celebration of the Club in 1883, we have this incident detailed :—

Tradition tells a story of the village,
About “the forty-five” or still more early,
Of rude invasion, foraging, and pillage,
By some bold soldiers following Prince Charlie,
Who on a winter evening came to Blair
And greedily ate up the Curlers’ fare.

Ah! who can taithfully depict the scenes,
How these marauders rallied in a body,
And made a mess of all the beef and greens,
And swallowed rather than discussed the toddy,
And put the innkeeper in consternation
Awed by the military occupation!

What could he do? Though in himself a “host”
He was confronted by an armed band
Of hungry fighting men, each to his post,
Obeying his superior in command;
What wonder if he got a little nervous
So cavalierly pressed into “the service”?

Then who can realise the blank despair
Of all the Curlers, tired and hungry, too?
Winners and losers of the game were there,
Prepared to dine as Curlers always do,
And round the festive board to meet and sink
Their petty quarrels in a friendly drink.


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