Dunblane

   DUNBLANE, an ancient episcopal town and parish, and now the seat of a presbytery, in the county of Perth; containing, with the village of Kinbuck, 3361 inhabitants, of whom 1911 are in the town, 6 miles (N.) from Stirling, and 41½ (W. N. W.) from Edinburgh. This place derives its name from an eminence on which was an ancient convent of Culdees founded by St. Blaan in the reign of Kenneth III., and subsequently erected into a bishopric by David I., who built the cathedral church about the year 1142. The diocese comprised part of the counties of Perth and Stirling, and continued to flourish under a succession of twenty-five Roman Catholic prelates till the Reformation, when its revenues were valued at £315 in money, exclusively of certain payments in wheat and other grain. Among the Protestant bishops who presided over the see after that period, was the venerable Leighton, who was consecrated in 1662, and in 1669 was translated to the archiepiscopal see of Glasgow, in which he continued till 1675. At his death he bequeathed his valuable library for the use of the clergy of the diocese of Dunblane; and he has left behind him a series of works which display the sound learning he possessed, and the fervour of his piety. In 1715, a sanguinary battle took place on the plains of Sheriff Muir, to the north-east of the town, between the forces under the command of the Duke of Argyll and those of the Pretender led by the Earl of Mar, in which both parties claimed the victory, and quietly left the field. The town is pleasantly situated on the road from Stirling to Perth, and on the east bank of the river Allan, over which is an old narrow bridge. There are still slight remains of the episcopal palace to the south of the cathedral, on the margin of the river, and that part of the town yet retains some faint resemblance to its ancient character. The building erected for the library of Archbishop Leighton was endowed under his will with £300 for keeping it in repair and as a salary for the librarian, and has been recently fitted up by subscription as a public reading and news room; the library has received various additions by bequests and donations. There are also two libraries, chiefly of religious books, supported by subscription. Close to the town is a neat lodge, to which, during the summer months, a supply of mineral water is brought from a spring called the Well of Dunblane, about two miles distant. It was proposed to bring the water into the town by pipes; but this purpose not being carried into effect, a village has been built near the spot, called Bridge of Allan, which is described under its own head.
   The inhabitants are principally engaged in the woollen manufacture, of which there are three establishments in the parish; one in the town, in which 215 persons are employed; one in the small village of Kinbuck, and the third at the mill of Keir, each of the two latter affording occupation to about forty persons. A considerable number in the town, likewise, are employed in handloom weaving. There is a general post-office, and two mails pass daily through the place: fairs are held on the first Wednesday in March, the first Tuesday after the 26th of May, the 21st of August, and the first Tuesday in November. The town, being within the barony of Cromlix, was formerly governed by a bailie, appointed by the Earl of Kinnoull as superior, and who held courts in a house a little to the east of the cathedral. The old gaol has been taken down; and a new prison, containing eight cells and a house for the gaoler, has been recently erected for the western district, upon the site once occupied by the mansion of Viscount Strathallan.
   The parish, which is situated at the western extremity of the Ochill range, is about nine miles in length, and nearly six in breadth; a considerable part consists of arable land, but the greater portion is moor, heath, and pasture. The surface is much diversified with hills of various elevation, of which the declivities slope gradually towards Strathallan, a fertile vale through which the river Allan flows with a rapid current, between banks in some parts steep and richly wooded, and pursues a winding course till it falls into the Forth near Stirling bridge. The rivulet Ardoch intersects the western part of the parish, and in both streams are found trout of good quality. The soil is various, in some parts fertile, in others affording only indifferent pasture for sheep and black-cattle; the farms are generally of small extent, the buildings substantial and commodious, and a considerable portion of waste land has been brought into cultivation. The rateable annual value of the parish is £14,300. The substratum is mostly red sandstone; there are pits of shell marl, and lime is obtained with facility at the distance of a few miles, by the river Forth, and has been plentifully applied to the improvement of the land. Kilbryde Castle, the seat of Sir James Campbell, of Aberuchill, Bart., is an ancient structure finely situated; Keir House is a spacious mansion, and Kippenross a handsome building of modern erection.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunblane and synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is £289, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £15 per annum; patron, the Crown. The church is the choir of the ancient cathedral, originally a venerable structure combining elegant details of the Norman, and early and decorated English styles, 216 feet in length and 58 feet in breadth within the walls, which rise to the height of fifty feet, and are crowned with battlements. The tower, 128 feet in height, appears to be of later date than the rest of the cathedral in the upper part; but the three lower of the five stories of which the tower consists seem to be older, and to have been erected by the ancient Culdees. The choir is almost entire; the lofty vaulted roof is in good preservation, and the windows, which were of beautiful design, were restored in 1819, and the whole of the interior repaired. The prebendal stalls, several of which are elaborately carved, are preserved in the avenues leading into the choir, which contains about 500 sittings, the whole free. The Episcopalians have just erected a chapel; the members of the Free Church have a place of worship, and there are three meeting-houses for the United Secession. The parochial school is conducted by a master who has a salary of £34, with £10. 10. per annum granted by the crown from the church lands; also a house and garden, and fees averaging about £50, out of which he pays an assistant. There are several other schools in the parish, including two partly supported by subscription. Archbishop Leighton bequeathed £1024 Scotch to the poor of the parish; and a sequestered walk in the neighbourhood of the town, to which that prelate frequently resorted, is still called the Bishop's Walk. Dunblane gives the title of Viscount to the Duke of Leeds.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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