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Stichill Scotland

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Information on the village of Stichill, near Kelso in Scotland.

Royal Horse Farm In Stichill

The Queen's Horse farm began and ended with her six-year reign, beginning in 1561 when she arrived from France.
This passage on Stichill history comes to light because of the French groom and his two sons who came over to Scotland to look after the Queen's horses, late in 1561.

Alexander Depo's elder son, also Alexander, was slaughtered in Stichill in 1564 by James Knox, a fellow worker at the stables. [The records use the word slaughter rather than killed, because they knew who had carried out the deed.] Alexander is lost to the story, but the fact that the Lord Treasurer recorded what was basically a fight between two boys which went wrong, just to be on the safe side when the Queen's property was involved, has meant that the presence of the stables is made known to us.

Mary had had an obsession with horses since her teenage days, and on coming to Scotland, found it difficult to select only thirty horses to bring with her. She was limited by the transport available to her - two ships.
The thirty horses set out from Dieppe in France, but the trip was not without problems; one horse died and the rest took over three weeks to get to these shores, not landing in Scotland at all, but turning up at Tynemouth, impounded by the English. Eventually the groom, his two sons, and some of the horses arrived at Stichill.

We know little else about the facts; we have no idea why the Laird of Stichill was given the doubtful honour of looking after the needs of the horses and their grooms; we do not know what happened to them six years later; but, what we do know, is that the Laird avoided all publicity about his horse farm, and, if the fight had not happened, and young Alexander had not been killed, we would probably have known nothing about the farm at all.

It is not surprising that, with the chaos which accompanied the end of Mary's reign, the farm just seems to have disappeared before most people even knew of its existence.
Somewhere there may be records of where the horses went, and whether any of their blood flows in the veins of the Scottish bloodstock of today.

Who knows?

[With thanks to the Stichill Millennium Project for access to the article upon which this item is based]

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