Whitsome and Hilton


Whitsome and Hilton
   WHITSOME and HILTON, a parish, in the county of Berwick; containing 622 inhabitants, of whom about 200 are in the village of Whitsome, 7 miles (N. by E.) from Coldstream. These two ancient parishes, which are in the eastern portion of the county, were united in 1735, after the decay of the old church of Hilton, from the situation of which upon an eminence that district derived its name. The incumbents of both the parishes, together with several of the clergy in the vicinity, swore fealty to Edward I. of England, at Berwick, in 1296, upon which occasion their parsonages were restored to them. In 1482, the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. of England, in his progress through the county of Berwick, burnt this place, and laid waste many of the circumjacent lands. The parish is about four and a half miles in length and nearly two miles in breadth, comprising an area of 4900 acres, of which 4720 are arable and pasture, and 180 woodland and plantations: there is no waste. The surface towards the north and east is generally level, but in other parts diversified with rising grounds and hills, of which the highest has an elevation of almost 350 feet above the level of the sea. The only river is the Leet, a small stream which, from its source near the northern boundary, flows southward through the parish, and after receiving various tributaries in its course, falls into the Tweed at Coldstream.
   The soil is highly fertile, and the lands are under excellent cultivation; the crops are, grain of every kind, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. Great improvement has taken place in the system of husbandry, and some tracts of land previously unprofitable have been drained and rendered productive. The farm-houses are substantial and well arranged; on all of the farms are threshing-mills, some of them driven by steam; and the cottages of the labourers have in many instances been rebuilt in a more comfortable style. The lands are inclosed with hedges of thorn, kept in excellent order; and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. Few sheep or cattle are reared in the parish; such as are kept on the pasture lands are generally purchased at the neighbouring markets. The plantations, though not extensive, include firs and the various kinds of forest-trees, which are all in a thriving state, and contribute materially to the beauty of the scenery. The principal substrata are sandstone and whinstone, of which there are extensive quarries in operation; and in 1824 and 1825 an attempt was made to work coal, of which, after boring to a great depth, some seams were discovered, but not sufficiently promising to warrant the opening of a mine. The rateable annual value of the parish is £7639. The village of Whitsome, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, is neatly built, and has a pleasingly rural appearance; it is inhabited chiefly by persons employed in agriculture. Adjoining it, on the east and north, are two portions of the ancient common, used for bleaching, and in each of which is a spring of pure water. Letters are transmitted through the post-office at Horndean, two miles distant; and facility of communication with Dunse, Berwick, Coldstream, and other towns, is maintained by good roads and by bridges over the various streams.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Chirnside and synod of Merse and Teviotdale. The minister's stipend is £233. 17. 11., with a manse, and the glebes of Whitsome and Hilton, together containing thirty acres, and valued at £60 per annum; patron, David Logan, Esq. The church, erected in 1803, is a neat plain structure containing 260 sittings. The parochial school, situated west of the village, is attended by nearly ninety children; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £60 per annum. In a field on the farm of Leetside, called the "Battle Knowes," are the remains of a camp supposed to be of Roman origin; it is of quadrilateral form, each side forty-two yards in length, with the entrance on the southeast, to which was an ascent by a causeway of rough stones recently removed. Near the site, some workmen, draining a field in 1827, discovered a vessel of copper, now preserved in Blackadder House; and in the vicinity were found, more recently, several stone coffins about four and a half feet in length, each composed of six flags, and containing the remains of a skeleton apparently of six feet in stature. In each of the coffins was also an urn of unglazed pottery, of triangular form, containing black dust. In draining some lands near Leetside in 1832, a well, inclosed with hewn stone, was discovered at a considerable depth below the surface of the ground. According to tradition, there were some houses near the well, called Temple Hall from their proprietors, the Knights Templars, who possessed lands in this parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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