Newbattle


Newbattle
   NEWBATTLE, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh; containing, with the villages of Easthouses and Newton-Grange, 2033 inhabitants, of whom 159 are in the village of Newbattle, 1 mile (S.) from Dalkeith. This place, which forms a kind of suburb to the town of Dalkeith, originated in the foundation of a monastery by David I. in 1140, which he endowed for brethren of the Cistercian order, from the abbey of Melrose. The institution continued to flourish till the Dissolution, when its revenue was returned at £1413 in money, and various payments in kind. At the Reformation, the small parish of Maisterton was joined to this parish, and the church of the abbey was made parochial. The patronage of the united church, with the lands of Maisterton, and the manor of Newbattle, was held by Mark Kerr, the last commendator of the abbey, and ancestor of the Lothian family, who died in 1584, and was succeeded by his son, Mark, who in 1587 obtained from James VI. a patent erecting these lands into a barony, and who in 1606 was created Earl of Lothian. The estate has since that time remained in the family, and is now the property of the eighth Marquess of Lothian. The parish, part of which is beautifully situated in a romantic valley watered by the South Esk, is about four miles in length, and forms an irregular triangular area of eight square miles, containing something more than 5000 acres, of which 4700 are arable, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder waste. The surface is finely varied, the main part rising gradually from the margin of the river, and terminating in a bold ridge, of which the highest point has an elevation of 700 feet above the level of the sea, and commands an extensive and richly diversified prospect over the adjacent country.
   The soil in the lower lands is luxuriantly rich, and of great depth; but in the higher districts, comparatively light and shallow. The system of agriculture is in an improved state, and the rotation plan is prevalent; the crops are, wheat, oats, barley, beans, potatoes, and turnips. The farm-buildings, however, are generally old, and in very indifferent condition, inferior to many in the vicinity; and the few inclosures might be greatly bettered. The woods are under good management, and are regularly thinned and pruned; they consist of oak, ash, elm, beech, plane, and various kinds of fir. The plantations, also, are mostly in a flourishing state. The substrata are chiefly coal and limestone, which are both abundant and of good quality; and the former is wrought to a very great extent by the Marquess of Lothian, whose mines of parrot-coal of the finest description are apparently inexhaustible. The rateable annual value of the parish is £12,706. Newbattle Abbey, the seat of the marquess, is an imposing mansion erected on the site of the ancient monastery, and beautifully situated on the north bank of the South Esk, in a well-wooded park. The mansion contains many stately apartments; an extensive and valuable library, enriched with splendidly illuminated missals and curious manuscripts formerly belonging to the abbey; a large collection of paintings by the first masters, and numerous family portaits. The grounds are tastefully laid out, and embellished with thriving plantations, and with many trees of ancient and majestic growth, among which are some beeches of extraordinary size, planted by the monks. Within the park is an old bridge of one arch over the river, called the Maiden Bridge, said to have been erected by a young lady whose lover was drowned while attempting to ford the stream at this spot, and which, now overgrown with ivy, has a strikingly romantic appearance. In the pavement of the hall of the mansion was once a brass plate, in the form of a foot, inserted to mark out the spot on which His Majesty George IV. first trod on entering the mansion, when he visited the marquess in 1822. Woodburn, late the residence of Mr. Ker, is a handsome modern house on the east bank of the river, pleasantly situated in a well-planted demesne, and commanding some fine views.
   The village consists chiefly of old and irregularlybuilt houses, inhabited by persons engaged in the various handicraft trades requisite for the wants of the neighbourhood, and of cottages for agricultural labourers. Easthouses, in its vicinity, is inhabited by persons employed in the collieries of the Marquess of Lothian, which are very extensive, and from which a line of railway, one mile and a half in length, has been formed at the expense of his lordship, to Dalhousie-Mains, where it joins the Edinburgh and Dalkeith railway, which thence proceeds north-westward. In its progress it is carried across a deep ravine of most romantic appearance, by a spacious bridge of cast-iron, of three arches resting on stone piers, sixty-five feet each in span, and of which the central arch, over the river, is seventy feet high. There are one or two other villages and several rural hamlets. Facility of communication with Dalkeith and the neighbouring towns is afforded by the railway, and by roads kept in tolerable repair. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale: the minister's stipend is £188, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £21 per annum; patron, the Marquess. The church, situated not far from the river, near the principal lodge of Newbattle Abbey, was erected in 1727, and is a plain structure containing 400 sittings, a number that might be considerably increased by the erection of a gallery. There is also a regular minister at Stobhill, where a church has very recently been raised, adequate funds having been subscribed. The parochial school, to the west of Easthouses, is well conducted, and attended by about eighty children; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £25 per annum. A school in the village of Easthouses, an infant school likewise there, and a school for girls at Newton-Grange, are all specially attached to the coalworks; the scholars are numerous, and the teachers partly paid by salaries and partly from the wages of the colliers. There are also some friendly societies, which operate to diminish the number of applicants for parochial relief. On the summit of the ridge rising from the bank of the river, are distinct traces of a Roman camp about three acres in extent, the area of which has been planted with trees; and to the north of the abbey was till lately a conical mount, ninety feet in diameter at the base, and thirty feet high, on the removal of which, for the erection of the present mansion, a stone coffin seven feet long was found, containing a human skull. Archbishop Leighton was for some time minister of this parish, to which he was inducted in 1648.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

Look at other dictionaries:

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