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Innerpeffray, Madderty and Kinkell In Perthshire, Scotland Click
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Madderty and Kinkell. These areas of the great and wide tract of mid-Strathearn
lie between Gask and Crieff, the first two on the north side of the Earn,
Kinkell on the south. Although they contain no true villages, they
have always had their own importance in Scotland's story, their
names recurring again and again over the centuries. These are level,
fertile lands, between the Ochils and the Highland hills, dotted with
farms, woodlands and old estates.
Innerpeffray is a strange place to find down at the end of a mile-long and
unmetalled side-road, near the steep banks of the river, a place packed
with history and interest, yet not even a hamlet. Here, there is a
nationally-renowned ancient library, a pre-Reformation chapel of some
distinction, an early endowed school and a ruined castle. The chapel was
old in 1508, when it rebuilt by the first Lord Drummond, father of James
IV's love, Margaret Drummond, as a Collegiate foundation, and long used as
the burial-place of that great family, later Earls of Perth. It is a
typically long and low, two apartment building, with stone-slated roof,
warm sandstone dressings and moulded doorways. There is a niche high on
the east gable, and a leper's squint in the north wall, where the
unfortunates could watch the celebration of Mass without entering the
church. Also a stone altar, part of a painted ceiling and a priest's loft.
Nearby is the handsome whitewashed 18th century building which houses the
famous Innerpeffray Library, the oldest surviving public library in
Scotland, and still open to the public. There are about three thousand
volumes shelved in a fine, well-lit room on the upper floor, many of great
age and value, one of the most interesting being the great Marquis of
Montrose's personal pocket Bible, in French, bearing his autograph. The
library was founded in 1691 by David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madderty,
Montrose's brother-in-law, who also endowed the school in an adjoining
building. Many of the books were added, about sixty years later by Robert
Hay Drummond, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had inherited Innerpeffray and
other great estates, and who erected the present library building.
The castle is not often visited, being not visible from the rest, on lower
ground at a bend of the river to the east. It is ruinous, but the main
features survive, a commodious L-planned house of the early '7th century,
built by James Drummond, first Lord Madderty, younger brother of the 3rd
Lord Drummond, and whose nephews became Earls of Perth and of Melfort, and
ruled Scotland between them, for James VII in London. Grazing cattle alone
now inherit all this circumstance.
Madderty parish covers nearly five thousand acres in mid-strath, its
comparatively modern church having no village nearer than the hamlet of
St. Davids, a mile away. But this must have been a highly populous area
once, for just to the north-east is the site of the Abbey of Inchaffray,
one of the great ancient religious houses of Scotland--now, alas, only a
few neglected fangs and fragments of masonry, mostly of fairly late date,
with rubbish dumped around. Yet this was the most favoured endowment of
many Scottish kings, an Augustinian foundation of great influence and
wealth, founded by Gilbert, 3rd Earl of Strathearn in 1200. Its famous
Abbot Maurice was Bruce's great supporter, who celebrated the Mass before
the Scots army at Bannockburn, and carried the Brecbennoch of Columba
throughout the battle. Another Abbot was killed at Flodden. At the
Reformation the huge lands were erected into a temporal lordship for the
infant James Drummond, aforementioned, who became 1st Lord Madderty. It is
shameful that a people so attached as the Scots to their history should
abandon so many of their ancient monuments to utter neglect.
Not far to the east is the most attractive small fortified laird's house
of Williamstoun, now a farmhouse and in excellent condition. It dates from
the mid-, 7th century, with stair-tower and watch-chamber reached by a
tiny turnpike in an angle-turret. It was built for the heir of Oliphant of
Gask, who insisted on marrying the minister of Trinity-Gask's young
daughter, instead of the 45-year-old sister of the Marquis of Douglas, and
so was disinherited of Gask in favour of his younger brother.
Also in Madderty are two Roman camps, flanking Innerpeffray on either side
of the river; and two of the nine Signal Stations mentioned under Gask.
And there is, not far away, the oddly-named former railway station of
Highlandman, 2 miles south-east of Crieff.
Kinkell is now best known, probably, for its bridge over the Earn-- for
there is not another between Crieff and Dalreoch on the main A.9, a
stretch of nearly a dozen miles. But it was a place of some importance
once--a parish, indeed, and a notorious one:
Oh, what a parish, what a
Oh, what a parish is that of Kinkell;
They hae hangit the minister, drowned the precentor,
Dang doon the steeple and drucken the bell!
This alludes to the 17th
century Reverend Richard Duncan, who was convicted of child-murder and
executed at Muthill, 4 miles away, much to the anger of his parishioners,
and just before the reprieve they had sought reached Strathearn. The said
parishioners thereupon drowned the precentor in the Earn--presumably they
considered him the guilty party, though the dead child was found under the
minister's fireplace--and sold the church bell, possibly to pay the
expenses of the reprieve.
The ruined, ancient pre-Reformation chapel of St. Bean is still there,
near the Machany Water's confluence with Earn, in a cottage garden, with
its overgrown graveyard around it, another typical two-apartment building,
with no particular features. Just across the road is the lumpish and very
plain yellow-washed successor, which was formerly a United Presbyterian
church. The fine bridge itself hump-backed, four-arched and picturesque,
is half a mile to the north-west.
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