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Manor (parish)

The following lengthy account of the parish was printed in the Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by John Marius Wilson and published by A. Fullarton & Co. in 1868.

MANOR, or MANNER, a parish, containing a post-office station of its own name, Peebles-shire.  It is bounded by Selkirkshire, and by Megget, Drummelzier, Stobo, and Peebles.  Its length northward is 8 3/4 miles; and its breadth varies from 1 mile to 5 3/4 miles.  The Tweed traces the boundary from 3 1/2 miles on the north-west and the north.  Manor-water, rising close on the southern boundary, and uniformly pursuing a northerly course, traverses the parish for 6 1/2 miles nearly along the middle, and then runs wendingly 2 3/4 miles near or along the eastern boundary to the Tweed, 1 3/4 mile above the town of Peebles.  About 16 streamlets, most of them tiny mountain-rills, and the chief of them Newholmhope-burn, Glenrath-burn, and Haddleshope-burn, not more than 3 1/4 miles in length, comes transversely down upon the Manor, ploughing their way along ravines and glens.  The boundary-line, except over the northern narrow third of the parish, is formed by water-shedding mountain-ridges; and all the interior, except a narrow vale along the Manor, and some beautiful haugh-ground upon the Tweed, is strictly and wildly upland.  Excepting two heights, one in the interior, and one on the boundary, all the elevations constitute an elliptical range, narrow on the south, broad along the sides, and shorn down into plain or cut away on the north.  The acclivities are in general rapid; and toward the source of the Manor, or the head of its vale, they closely approach, and are mural and towering.  Many of them are scarred, or, in local phrase, sclentered, and reflect the sun's rays with a brilliance which gives warmth to the tillage in the vale.  All appear, at least wherever the rock looks out from the surface, to consist of greywacke, the strata running north and south, and dipping to the west; and on their higher acclivities are heathy, but on their sides and their lower acclivities are in general more or less grassy.  The loftiest summit is DOLLAR-LAW: which see.  Scrape, on the boundary with Drummelzier, has an elevation of 2,800 feet; and nearly all the summits rise from between 1,600 to 1,900 feet above sea-level.  The valley grounds, the haughs, and the arable heights, amounting in the aggregate to about 1,700 acres, are drained, fully enclosed, and in excellent cultivation; and though carpeted with clay and loam of no great depth, are fertile to a degree surpassing theory in so bleak a region.  Wood, in belts and clumps on the lower grounds, and in straggling detachments up the narrow basins of the minor streams, occupies an aggregate area of about 400 acres.  There are seven principal landowners.  The estimated value of raw produce in 1834, exclusive of live stock, was £4,201.  Assessed property in 1860, £4,201.

In the vale of the Manor, about 1 1/4 mile north of the church, between two mountainous and boldly ascending heights, and in the midst of a morass, is a British or Danish camp.  On an acclivitous conical height called Chesters, a mile distant, are fortifications of loose stones from 26 to 32 feet wide, with an exterior elliptical wall upwards of 650 feet in circumference, usually pronounced Roman on the evidence chiefly of the name of their site, and in defiance of that furnished by their form.  Coins not long ago found in or near the fortifications were English, and some of them comparatively modern; yet others reported to have been formerly found in it were--hastily perhaps--pronounced Roman.  Castles, towers, and peel-houses--or buildings of one or other of these classes according to the power and resources of the proprietors--were anciently so numerous in the parish as to prove it one of the most stirring arenas of the Border feuds and forays.  They stood in sight of each other, crowned with means of raising alarm fires, and formed at once individual fortalices able to resist attacks, and a lain of beacons sending suddenly up at need signals of fire by night and of smoke by day.  Connected with these and other memorials of a freebooting age, is the remarkable path called the THIEF ROAD: which see.  On the summit of Woodhill, an eminence rising in the midst of a plain, there is, says Armstrong, "some appearance of a building called Macbeth's castle, but probably a place for the worship of the Druids to the heathen god Woden (!)"  "Standing-stone," says the same writer, "is a large rude monument which, from its situation on Bellum or War-rig, may have been erected to commemorate some remarkable event.  From the appearance of the impression of several horses' feet having been out on the stone, it is thought to have been the site of a fair."  But the object in the parish which now excites the greatest interest is the cottage of 'the Black dwarf,' situated on Woodhouse farm in the vale of the Manor.  The deformed and eccentric creature, David Ritchie by name, built the cottage and garden walls, lived as a recluse in the cottage, and was buried in Manor churchyard.  Sir Walter Scott became acquainted with him, and had opportunities of marking those physical and moral features which are so boldly limned in his tale, while on visits to Professor Ferguson at his mansion of Hallyards.  A monument to the memory of David Ritchie was erected in Manor churchyard, in 1845, by Messrs. W. & R. Chambers.  The parish possesses pretty good facility of communication in its nearness to the town of Peebles.  Population in 1831, 254; in 1861, 247.  Houses, 49.

This parish is in the presbytery of Peebles, and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale.  Patron, the Earl of Wemyss.  Stipend, £175 5s. 8d.; glebe, £42.  Schoolmaster's salary, £50, with £16 fees, and about £5 other emoluments.  Manor was anciently a mere chaplainry, under the rectory of Peebles, and formed jointly with it the prebend of the archdeacon of Glasgow.  The present parish-church, situated on the Manor 1 1/2 mile above its confluence with the Tweed, was built about the middle of the 17th century, and contains 200 sittings.  Its predecessor, the place of worship of the chaplainry, seems to have stood at Manorton, 1 3/4 mile farther up the river.  A chapel dedicated to St. Gordian, who was martyred by Julian the apostate, and whose fame seems to have travelled in some unusual way to the recesses of Tweeddale, anciently stood in the vale of Newhope-burn, 4 miles south of Manorton, and is commemorated by some slight vestiges.  Not far south-west of the present parish-church is a pedestal called 'the font stone,' which of old supported the font of Manor chapel.

Annette Peebles
Last updated Monday, 17-Jul-2000 22:12:59 MDT