Smailholm

   SMAILHOLM, a parish, in the county of Roxburgh, 6 miles (W. N. W.) from Kelso; containing 592 inhabitants, of whom 304 are in the village. This place, of which the name is variously written Smalham, Smalholm, and Smailholm, is chiefly distinguished for its tower, a spacious square building supposed to have been a border fortress, and the remains of which still exist on the farm of Sandyknow, in the south-west portion of the parish, now the property of Lord Polwarth, and formerly tenanted by the grandfather of Sir Walter Scott. Sir Walter has celebrated this resort of his childhood in his border tale The Eve of St. John, in which he describes the tower of Smailholm and its surrounding rocks; and in his Marmion he alludes to his early residence here, as having exerted a peculiar influence in predisposing his mind to that style of poetry in which he so much excelled. The parish, which is bounded on the east by the river Eden, is situated at the north-eastern extremity of the county, and extends for nearly four miles in length, varying in breadth, which in the widest part is rather more than three miles; it comprises 4057 acres, of which 3450 are arable, 450 meadow and pasture, and about sixty woodland and plantations. The surface, which is of very irregular form, is diversified with flat and rising grounds, the latter in some parts having an elevation of more than 500 feet above the level of the sea; and the scenery, which in many places is picturesque, is pleasingly embellished with plantations. The soil is in general good, and the system of agriculture advanced: the plantations, which are managed with great care, consist of firs and various kinds of hard-wood, and are in a thriving and healthy condition. The land has been much improved by draining and by the introduction of lime as manure; the crops are now usually favourable, the farm-buildings substantial and well arranged, the lands inclosed, and the fences, which are chiefly of thorn, neatly kept. Limestone is found in the parish, but, from the scarcity of coal, it is not worked; coal brought from Lothian and Northumberland is the principal fuel, and the thinnings of the plantations afford also a partial supply. The substratum is principally whinstone rock of a very hard quality, which abounds in the southern parts, and is procured for making and repairing the roads; there is also a considerable quantity of rotten-rock, used for the farm-roads. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3092. The village consists of three divisions, called respectively the East Third, the West Third, and Overtown: in the first, through which passes the turnpike-road from Lauder, are situated the parish church, the manse, and the parochial school. A savings' bank was established some time ago, but it has been discontinued since the year 1830. The parish is in the presbytery of Lauder, synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of George Baillie, Esq.: the minister's stipend is £205. 12. 9., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £17. 5. per annum. The church, which is conveniently situated, appears to have been erected about the year 1632, as a stone removed from the building while undergoing repairs bore that date, with the inscription Soli. Deo. Gloria; it has accommodation for 300 persons. The parochial school affords a liberal education; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with £30 fees, and a house and garden. There was once also a school at Sandyknow, the master of which was supplied with board and lodging by the tenant of the farm in consideration of his teaching his children, and by school fees of other pupils.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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