Lasswade


Lasswade
   LASSWADE, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh; containing, with the village of Loanhead, and the late quoad sacra district of Roslin, 5025 inhabitants, of whom 539 are in the village of Lasswade, 2½ miles (W. S. W.) from Dalkeith. This parish is supposed to have derived its name from the situation of the church and village in a well-watered pastoral district. It was anciently much less extensive, now including the parishes of Pentland and Melville, which were suppressed at the Reformation. On the north are the parishes of Colinton and Liberton; on the east, Dalkeith, Newbattle, Cockpen, and Carrington; on the south, the parish of Penicuick; and on the west, Colinton, Glencross, and Penicuick. The parish is about eight miles in length and five miles in breadth, and of extremely irregular form, comprising an area of ten square miles. The surface, with the exception of the Pentland district, is chiefly a level tract of arable and pasture land in a high state of cultivation, abounding with scenery of unrivalled beauty, and with features strikingly romantic. The loftiest of the Pentland hills within the parish is Allermuir, which exceeds 1600 feet in height above the level of the sea. The North Esk river flows through the parish, between precipitous and richly-wooded banks, and is remarkable for the picturesque character of the vale along which it pursues its course; it winds round the ruins of the ancient castle of Roslin, and near the mansion of Hawthornden, and, intersecting the village of Lasswade and the pleasuregrounds of Dalkeith, runs into the South Esk about a mile below the Palace. That portion of the parish which was till lately annexed to the church of Roslin is described in the article on that place.
   The soil is luxuriantly rich; and the tracts of moor and wet moss that abounded in the southern parts have been reclaimed, and brought into a good state of cultivation. The lands are principally arable, producing excellent crops of grain: the oatmeal of this place has long been noted for its superior quality. The dairyfarms are under careful management, and the produce forwarded chiefly to the Edinburgh market; much land, also, is laid out in nurseries and gardens, yielding abundant supplies of vegetables and fruits of all kinds for the use of the city, to which great quantities of strawberries, particularly, are sent daily in the season. The Pentland hills are covered partly with heath, and in other parts with fine grass affording good pasture; the meadows and low-land pastures are exceedingly fertile. The substrata in the parish are coal and limestone, with red sandstone, freestone, and whinstone, the last an excellent material for the roads; the coal is extensively wrought in the vicinity of Loanhead, and not less than 30,000 tons are sent from the mines annually to Edinburgh. The rateable annual value of Lasswade is £21,833.
   The principal seat is Melville Castle, the residence of Lord Viscount Melville, an elegant and spacious structure in the castellated style, with circular towers, erected about the close of the last century, on the site of an ancient house said to have belonged to David Rizzio, secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. It is situated on the bank of the North Esk, in an ample and richlywooded demesne, and is a conspicuous and highlyinteresting object. George IV., when visiting Scotland in 1822, was hospitably entertained in this noble mansion. Hawthornden, the romantic seat of Sir James Walker Drummond, built by the poet Drummond, and incorporated with the remains of the baronial castle of that ancient family, stands on a precipitous rock below Roslin, on the south bank of the North Esk; and is remarkable for the numerous artificial caverns beneath the mansion, and in various parts of the rock. These, during the war with England in the reign of Edward I., afforded secure shelter to the adherents of Bruce, of whom Sir Alexander Ramsay, with his followers, concealing himself in these almost inaccessible retreats, frequently sallied forth upon the enemies of his country, whom he surprised and defeated with great slaughter. The principal of the caverns are, the king's gallery, the king's bedchamber, and others; and in one of them, detached from the rest, and of smaller dimensions, called the Cypress Grotto, Drummond is said to have composed many of his poems. In the court-yard is a deep dry well, from which a narrow opening leads to a long subterraneous passage, on both sides whereof are various small apartments, and below them some of larger dimensions, the entry to which is lighted from a fissure in the rock. The house is adorned with numerous ancient relics, and family and other portraits, among which is a portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots; and the pleasure-grounds attached to it abound with interesting features, and with picturesque and romantic scenery. Mavisbank House is a handsome mansion in the style of an Italian villa, and is beautifully situated on the right bank of the North Esk, in a demesne of highly-pleasing character. Springfield House is also a good mansion; and on the same bank of the river are Dryden and Rosebank: on the left bank are Polton, Glenesk, and Gorton.
   The village of Lasswade is seated in the deeplysequestered and well-wooded dell watered by the North Esk. The houses are irregularly scattered along both the banks of the river, and are surrounded with gardens and plantations, which, combining with the sylvan aspect of the vale generally, render this one of the most attractive villages in Scotland. The beauty of the scenery, and the mildness of the climate from its sheltered situation, have rendered it a favourite place of resort for the citizens of Edinburgh; and numerous handsome villas have been erected in the immediate vicinity, as residences during the summer months. The principal manufactures carried on here are those of paper and carpets. There are three extensive papermills, in which several hundreds of persons are employed, and in one of which the paper made annually pays a duty to government of £5500. The carpet manufactory at St. Anne's was established in the year 1834, by Messrs. Richard Whytock and Co., for the production of Tournay and Axminster carpets of all sizes and shapes, without seam; and a new kind of Brussels carpet, of great beauty, resembling tapestry, with various fabrics in velvet pile, has recently been invented by the proprietors, and is in much request in London and other places. In this establishment more than 100 persons are constantly employed; there are also an iron and brass foundry, and several corn and oatmeal mills. Within the parish are likewise the villages of Loanhead and Pentland, and two post-offices connected with Edinburgh and Dalkeith, each of which has a couple of deliveries daily. Facility of communication is afforded by parish-roads kept in excellent order, and by the turnpike-roads to Edinburgh and other places.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale and the presbytery of Dalkeith. The minister's stipend is £180, with a manse on an eminence near the church, and a glebe of eight acres, valued at £40 per annum; patron, Sir George Clerk, Bart. The present church, erected in 1793, and substantially repaired and improved within the last few years, is a neat structure adapted for a congregation of 1000 persons: the remains of the ancient church, within the churchyard, consist chiefly of one of the aisles, which has been converted into a sepulchral chapel for the Dundas family. There are places of worship for members of the Reformed Presbyterian and United Secession churches. The parochial school is well conducted, including in its course of studies the Latin, Greek, and French languages, and the mathematics; and is numerously attended: the master has a salary of £34, and the fees average about £150 annually. There are also schools at Hawthornden and Pentland, of which the masters have salaries and rent-free houses; and in the villages of Lasswade and Loanhead are good subscription libraries. Upon the river North Esk, half a mile above Hawthornden, is Wallace's cave, an artificial excavation in the rock, in the form of a cross, and capable of containing about seventy persons; and on the north side of the Bilston burn, about a mile from its confluence with the North Esk, is Wallace's camp, in the shape of a semicircle, eighty-four feet in circuit, and defended by a broad and deep ditch. At Springfield, near a ford on the Esk, is a narrow road supposed to have been part of a Roman way between two camps; and not far from Mavisbank House is a circular mound of earth, near which have been found several ancient weapons and various other relics of antiquity. The poet Drummond was a native of this parish; and the late Mr. John Clerk, author of a Treatise on Naval Tactics, resided on the estate of Eldin.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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