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Stichill Scotland

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

Fact or Fiction - Stories from Stichill

Stichill Mansion House

In the school at Stichill, there was a lifesize portrait of George Baird on a horse. This survived as long as the school, but disappeared soon after the school closed. Nobody seems to know what happened to the portrait!

A pub used to stand in Stichill prior to 1865 at the point where the Runningburn road meets the Stichill to Hume road on the south side of the junction!

There was a well between the 'Roundel Wood', where Mrs Peddie lives, and the row of houses at the 'Meadow'. It was called 'Ellen Donaldson's Well' and a bucket of water cost a halfpenny!

With all the troubles in Lanarkshire where George Baird made his fortune, he insisted on there being a resident policeman in Stichill. In 1883, PC Andrew Skinner paid 12 as rent for his house which was also the Police Station. The house is now called 'Rosemount Cottage' and the one-man cell is a bathroom!

There was a corn mill and house beside Stichill Linn. Mark Halliewell was the last resident miller. His house was still roofed but lacking windows in 1945. The corn mill was still working when George Baird came to Stichill in the 1860's!

A mobile threshing machine used to come regularly during the Autumn and Spring. It was sited near the pond at Baillieknowe, and also behind what is now 4 Ednam Road, before going on to Runningburn Farm!

There was a sectional wooden hut brought from Dreghorn Barracks on the back of a lorry. It was erected behind the 'Free Church' on a series of brick piles. This created a 'sprung floor' which made the Hall very popular for dances, at which locals can recall the many eightsome reels which made the floor bounce up and down to meet the pounding feet. They can also remember the 'stoor' (dust)!

In 1930, Mr George Anderson, mason and builder of Stichill, built 'Currview' and 'Sunnyside'. At that time, opposite the 'Bottom Row' was a byre for the crofters. After the Second World War, he built a house on the base of the former byre. As building material was in short supply, some of the materials may have come from the former Mansion House which had been demolished in 1938. He named this house 'Portsoy', which was the name of the kind of pebbledash with which it was finished!

In times past, the road used to go through the Baillieknowe steading, below the U.P.C. Manse (now Hill House) and down to Newtonlees. This avoided the steep braes in the village for the horse and cart carrying stone from Baillieknowe quarry for the road works!

When Stichill Mansion House was demolished in 1938, the main staircase went down to England. There were four staircases, and the local joiner, Black of Stichill, removed them all. One is known to be still in the area, in a house in Chirnside. All the main rooms in the Mansion House were made of different timbers. There was an Oak Room, an Ash Room, a Pine Room etc. All the fittings in each room were made from the one timber - doors, shutters, floor and so on!

During the 1930's, Stichill Mansion House was used as a school for Leith Holiday Homes. The boys, mostly orphans, from Leith (near Edinburgh) used to come 'on holiday' for three weeks. A regular job each day, for selected boys, was to go down the drive to the 'Home Farm' which was owned by the Darling family to collect the milk in buckets. On the way back, the boys used to 'take their fill' and top up the buckets again from the pump on the driveway. How many realised that, on some days, the milk was somewhat weaker than on others!

Cheviot View was built for George Baird's factor at the same time as the top row of houses was built. It has a narrow servants' stair at the back of the house. At one time, a schoolteacher, Mr Smith, lived there with his wealthy wife!

George Baird, together with his factor, walked round the estate when he took over, hitting buildings with his walking stick. He then issued the instructions on what was needing done to each building - demolish and rebuild, reroof and alter. The only building left intact was Runningburn. Money seemed to be no problem!

George Hermiston, the Blacksmith, said that George Baird's son was always a wild lad when young, and, in many ways, to be pitied. Young George had many horses and used to race them in England; indeed, he used to ride many himself until he was warned off! He owned the 1887 Derby winner 'Merry Hampton'. He had a one-mile all weather track constructed on which to train his 250 horses. It was below the house on the 'Sourlands' just above where the new nature reserve is today. The remains of the icehouse are close by!

George Anderson, the builder, and Black, the joiner, helped to demolish the Mansion House. Other mansion houses, at Lanton, near Duns, and at Spottiswood, near Westruther, were demolished about the same time. Timbers from Stichill went to Sir John Swinton's house at Kimmerghame to help replace the fire-damaged roof; doors went to Legars; glass to Queenscairn; stone to build the Garden House; and even the rubble was used as part of the runway at Charterhall Airfield!

When George Baird died in America in 1893, his body was shipped back to Britain in a lead coffin. That coffin came, by train, to Kelso where it was collected by Mr Fairley from the 'Home Farm'. Having brought the body to Stichill on a cart, he removed the body from the lead coffin, and laid him to rest in a wooden coffin for burial. The lead coffin is supposed to have been buried near the 'Home Farm' but no trace of it has ever been found, although many have looked!

The driveway to Stichill Mansion House was lined by woods on both sides. These were the 'Fairoaks', and some of the wood from these trees went on to line the 'Queen Mary' of Cunard fame!

Along the Mill road, which leads to Nenthorn, there used to be a snuff mill, where the tobacco was turned into snuff. It was on the right hand side of the road before the bridge over the Eden!

The last of the witches were reputedly drowned in the 1300's in a pond on the Mill road, just as it leaves the village!

In the 1920's, a soup kitchen was set up in the village school to enable the children to get something substantial to eat, which was also hot. Local farmers donated the vegetables!

'Craigend' which sits on the roadside on the north side of Queenscairn Hill, was built by George Baird to house his kennel master, the dogs and the lad who lived above the actual kennels!

'Brae Cottage' which stands in front of the old school, and behind the War Memorial, was the actual school for over a hundred years. Three generations of the Douglas family taught there!

'Netherlea' was probably built in the 1700's. The long low building to the east of the house was the joiner's shop!

The silo at Baillieknowe was built in 1928 at the same time as another two - one at Courthill and one at Eccles. The Baillieknowe one was used until the 1970's when it was declared too dangerous to use. All three now stand idle!

West Lodge, near Sweethope Farm, which was the lodge for the Mansion House, was previously known as 'Daisy's House'. It has now crumbled away!

Where the Village Hall now stands, there was a large wet hole containing bullrushes, marsh marigolds and frogs and young boys trying to catch them. It was filled in when the Hall was built!

Going up the drive from the 'gates' there used to be a sawmill on the left hand side. It was still there in the late thirties!

When cottages lined the road through Stichill, in the pre-Baird days, there was a 'gate' or entry between where the War Memorial and 'Cheviot View' now stand. The gate was known as 'Stichill Town Gate' and was there to keep the stock in at night!

There was an Ushers Brewery in Ednam where houses now stand. Farm hands, from Stichill, would be sent to the brewery at harvest time to collect a bucket of beer. It cost the equivalent of one new penny, in 1888!

Stichill Estate in its heyday was a very large estate - more than 5740 acres, when it changed hands at the end of the 19th century, and was taken over from the Baird family by the Deuchars!

Richard Scott, who was eight years old, was killed by a steam engine at Baillieknowe Quarry in 1927-28. He fell off the draw bar between the engine and the wagon and was run over!

All of these tales have some fact behind them, but it is up to you to work out the fact from fiction, if any!

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