Parish of Lilliesleaf

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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1791-99: Lilliesleaf
1834-45: Lilliesleaf

Lilliesleaf is a village and parish in the NW of Roxburghshire. The village, 3 miles W of Belses station, 3 ½ NNW of Hassendean station, and 6 SSW of Newtown St Boswells station - all on the Waverley route of the North British railway system - is picturesquely situated on a ridge of ground which slopes down first steeply to the village, then gradually to Ale Water. Between the village and the river lie fields and meadows. Lilliesleaf consists mainly of one long narrow street, ½ mile in length, which contains the post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, 2 inns, the Currie school for girls, and several good shops. There is a subscription library, containing 1600 volumes of all classes of literature. The houses exhibit considerable diversity, some being thatched and others slated, while old cottages and new villas are not unfrequently found standing close together. Almost without exception, the houses have gardens attached to them, and, as a natural consequence, flower-culture is largely engaged in. Owing to the trimness of its gardens, and the beauty of its situation, Lilliesleaf is among the prettiest of the Border villages, and its advantages have been fully appreciated by our Scotch artists, who have found in it and its environs charming subjects for their brush.

The parish church, built in 1771, and restored in 1883, stands a little way beyond the E end of the village. It is surrounded on three sides by the churchyard, which contains a few curious tombstones, and the remains of an old ivy-grown chapel. The recent improvements have changed it from a plain barn-like building to one of taste and elegance. They embraced the addition of a nave and bell-tower, and the remodelling of the interior, which has been suitably painted, and in which handsome modern benches have taken the place of the old `box-pews.' The lighting of the church has been much improved by the new windows in the nave, and the enlargement of the old windows in the transepts. A fine-toned bell, which cost about £100, and weighs 8 ½ cwts., has been presented to the church by Mr Edward W. Sprot, younger son of the late Mr Mark Sprot of Riddell. An interesting relic is the old stone font. It was removed from the church at the Reformation, and eventually found its way into the moss, where for a long time it lay buried. It has lately been dug up, and placed at one of the entrance doors of the church. The U.P. church, erected in 1805, has 350 sittings. The public school, once known as the parish school, was built in 1822; and a girl's school was built by subscription on ground bequeathed by the late Mr Currie of Linthill in 1860. These two, with respective accommodation for 82 and 84 children, had (1882) an average attendance of 36 and 63, and grants of £40, 15s. and £40, 13s. 6d. Pop. (1861) 325, (1871) 349, (1881) 315.

Lilliesleaf parish is bounded NW by Selkirk, N by Bowden, NE and E by Ancrum, SE by Minto and Wilton, and W by Ashkirk. Its utmost length, from NE to SW, is 6 1/8 miles; its breadth varies between 1 furlong and 4 5/8 miles; and its area is 6707 ½ acres, of which 35 are water. Ale Water winds ½ mile westward along the Ashkirk border, then 2 ¾ miles north-eastward through the interior of the parish, and lastly 4 ¼ miles east-by-northward along the boundary with Bowden and Ancrum. Almost all the land in the parish is arable, and what remains is taken up with pasture. The ground is gently undulating, sinking in the NE to 390 feet above sea-level, and rising thence to 556 feet near the village, 754 near Greatlaws, 711 near Newhouse, and 936 at Black Craig. The soil is mostly loam and clay, and there is little or no sand. The predominant rocks are Silurian and Devonian. A portion of the Waverley route of the North British railway passes through the parish. The chief landowners are Sprot of Riddell, Currie of Linthill, Lords Minto and Polwarth, Mr Scott of Sinton, Mr Stewart of Hermiston, Mr Martin of Firth, Mr Dobie of Raperlan, Mr Dickson of Chatto, Mr Pennycook of Newhall, and Mr Riddel-Carre of Cavers-Carre. `Ancient Riddell's fair domain' belonged till about 1823 to a family of that name, whose ancestor Walter de Riddell obtained a charter of Lilliesleaf, Whittunes, etc., about the middle of the 12th century, and who received a baronetcy in 1628. The remoter antiquity of the family has been rested upon the discovery, in the old chapel of Riddell, of two stone coffins, one of which contained `an earthen pot, filled with ashes and arms, bearing a legible date, A.D.727,' while the other was filled with ` the bones of a man of gigantic size.' These coffins, it has been conjectured, contained the remains of ancestors of the family, although this view has been rejected by Sir Walter B. Riddell. The mansion of Riddell, 1 ¾ mile WSW of the village, is a plain, but large, three-storied house. It is approached from one of the lodges by a very fine avenue, 1 ¼ mile in length. The present owner, Col. John Sprot (b. 1830; suc. 1883), holds 3278 acres in the shire, valued at £3427 per annum. Another mansion, Cotfield, stands 1 ¾ mile S of - the village. Lilliesleaf Moor was the scene of many `Conventicles' held by the Covenanters, and upon it took place several skirmishes between them and their. opponents. The chief engagement occurred at Bewlie Moss.

This parish is in the presbytery of Selkirk and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. The stipend, with manse and glebe, amounts to about £400. There was an augmentation of 3 chalders in 1882. The old church of Lilliesleaf belonged, before the year 1116, to the Church of Glasgow, whose right over it was confirmed by several Papal Bulls. A church, which also belonged to the See of Glasgow, stood at Hermiston or Herdmanstown, and, in addition to it, there were chapels at Riddell (where Riddell Mill now stands) and at Chapel (on the present site of Chapel Farm). Valuation (1864) £6923, 16s. 3d., (1884) £7987, 13s. 9d. Pop. (1801) 673, (1831) 781, (1861) 772, (1871) 788, (1881) 718.—Ord. Sur., shs. 17, 25, 1864-65.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

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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