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Stow

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Stow (Old Eng. 'place'), a village of SE Edinburghshire, and a parish partly also of Selkirkshire. On all sides sheltered by hills, the village lies, 580 feet above sea-level, near the left bank of Gala Water, and ¼ mile E of Stow station, across the stream, this being miles NNW of Galashiels and 26¾ (by road 24) SSE of Edinburgh. A pretty little place, of high antiquity, it has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, 6 insurance agencies, an hotel, gasworks, 3 woollen mills, and a hiring fair on the second Tuesday of March. Its town-hall, built about 1854, is a handsome edifice, with a reading-room and library. The new parish church, on a sloping bank, a little way S of the village, was erected in 1873-76 at a cost of £8000, and is one of the finest parish churches in the South of Scotland. Designed by Messrs Wardrope and Reid in the Early Decorated Gothic style, it consists of apsidal nave, transept, N side aisle, and NW clocktower and spire, over 140 feet high, and has 700 sittings, warming apparatus, stained-glass windows, etc. A Free church, ½ mile NNW of the village, dates from Disruption times ; and a new U.P. church, built in 1871-72 at a cost of £1800, is a neat structure, with a spire and 500 sittings. Pop. (1841) 408, (1861) 397, (1871) 435, (1881) 440.

The parish, containing also Fountainhall, Bowland, and Clovenfords stations, is bounded N by Fala and Soutra, NE by Channelkirk, E by Channelkirk, Lauder, and Melrose, SE by Galashiels, S by Selkirk and Yarrow, SW and W by Innerleithen, and NW by Heriot, so that, while itself lying in two counties, it is in contact with three others-Haddington, Roxburgh, and Peebles shires. Its utmost length, from N by W to S by E, is 12¾ miles ; its breadth varies between ¾ mile and 91/8 miles ; and its area is 575/8 square miles or 36, 891½ acres, of which 10,017¼ belong to Selkirkshire, and 463 to the Nettlingflat detached portion (8 x 6¾ furl.), ¾ mile N of Heriot station. The Tweed flows 2 miles east-south-eastward along all the southern border to the mouth of Caddon Water, which, rising close to the western border at an altitude of 1800 feet, runs 7¾ miles south-eastward, for the last ¾ mile along the Galashiels boundary. From a point 5 furlongs SSE of Heriot station, Gala Water winds 16½ miles south-south-eastward-for the first 7½ furlongs along the boundary with Heriot, and for the last 25/8 miles along that with Melrose-until it quits the parish near Torwoodlee. During this course its principal affluents, all noticed separately, are Heriot, Armit, Cockum, and Luggate Waters ; and it is closely followed by 12¼ miles of the Waverley route of the North British railway, which crosses and recrosses it no fewer than seventeen times. It is subject to violent spates, one of which, in June 1835, here swept away part of a dwelling-house, and drowned two of the inmates. The Galashiels and Peebles branch of the railway runs, too, for 4½ miles along the south-eastern and southern verge of the parish. Beside the Tweed the surface declines to 390, beside Gala Water to 490, feet above sea-level. Chief elevations to the E of the latter stream, as one goes up the vale, are *Caitha or Cathie Hill (1125 feet), Torsonce Hill (1178), *Sell Moor (1388), Catpair Hill (1070), Kittyflat (1079), and a height near Middle Town (1250) ; to the W, Laidlawstiel Hill (1083), Crosslee or Mains Hill (1157), Knowes Hill (1222), Black Law (1473), *Stony Knowe (1647), Great Law (1666), Fernieherst Hill (1643), *Windlestraw Law (2161), *Eastside Heights (1944), and Rowliston Hill (1380), where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the confines of the parish. The rocks are mainly Silurian ; and the minerals include small quantities of calc-spar, quartz, and steatite. The soils range from loamy alluvium to barren moor ; and barely one-third of the entire area is in tillage, rather more than 800 acres being under wood, and the rest chiefly hill-pasture. Ancient camps, varying in size from half an acre to two acres, some of them circular and others oval, occur in at least seven places. Old castles, of various size, generally square towers or parallelograms, were formerly numerous ; and the ruins of a number of them still exist (see Hop-Pringle, Luggate Water, Torwoodlee, and Windydoors). The church of Stow was formerly possessed by the bishops of St Andrews as a mensal church, and served by a vicar. The whole parish anciently bore the name of Wedale, ` the vale of woe ; ' and a residence of the bishops on the site of the village originated the name of Stow, and, under the name of the Stow of Wedale, was the place whence they dated many of their charters. The earliest church of Wedale, St Mary's, alleged to date from Arthurian days, stood on the Torsonce estate, near the ` Lady's Well,' and was famed for its possession of certain fragments of the True Cross. Till about 1815 a huge stone was pointed out here, bearing a so-called footprint of the Virgin Mary. The next church, only lately superseded, and still standing in the village, is itself a structure of great though varying antiquity, as attested by a round-headed Romanesque S doorway and a good Second Pointed W window. An extensive forest anciently existed in a district partly within Wedale and partly within Lauderdale, and was common to the inhabitants of Wedale on the W, the monks of Melrose on the S, and the Earls of Dunbar and the Morvilles on the E. Wedale early possessed the privilege of sanctuary in the same manner as Tyninghame ; and ` the black priest of Wedale ' was one of the three persons who enjoyed the privileged law of the clan Macduff. John Hardyng, when instructing the English king how to ruin Scotland, advises him

'To send an hoste of footmen in.
At Lammesse next. through ail Lauderdale,
At Lamermore woods, and mossis over-rin,
And eke therewith the Stow of Wedale.'

William Russell (1741-93), the historian of Modern Europe, was born at Windydoors ; and John Lee, D.D. (1780-1859), the Principal of Edinburgh University, at Torwoodlee Mains. Mansions, noticed separately, are Bowland, Burnhouse, Crookston, and Torwoodlee. A fifth, Laidlawstiel, 1 mile NE of Thornilee station and 6 miles W by N of Galashiels, belongs to Lady Reay. Eleven proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 8 of between £100 and £500. Giving off since 1870 part of Caddonfoot quoad sacra parish, Stow is in the presbytery of Earlston and the synod of Merse and Teviotdale ; the living is worth £454. Three public schools-Caitha, Fountainhall, and Stow-with respective accommodation for 50, 133, and 226 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 46, 67, and 165, and grants of £56, 8s., £64, 13s., and £152, 16s. 6d. Valuation of Edinburghshire portion (1871) £22, 826, (1881) £26,387, (1885) £24,856 ; of Selkirkshire portion (1865) £4337, (1885) £6851. Pop. (1801) 1876, (1831) 1771, (1861) 2171, (1871) 2306, (1881) 2395, of whom 441 were in Selkirkshire, 2010 in Stow ecclesiastical parish, and 385 in Caddonfoot.—Ord. Sur., shs. 25, 24, 1865-64.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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