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BRECHIN - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]

"BRECHIN, a parish and market town, royal and parliamentary burgh, in the county of Forfar, Scotland, 11 miles to the N.E. of Forfar, and 70 miles to the N. of Edinburgh. The town is connected with the Scottish North-Eastern railway by a branch line of 4 miles from the Bridge-of-Dun junction. It is situated in a fertile district, on the N. bank of the South Esk, about 8 miles above its mouth, and includes the villages of Little Brechin and Trinity Muir. Brechin is a place of considerable antiquity, and the seat of a diocese founded by David I. in 1150. At an earlier period a house of the Culdees was established here. The town was formerly defended by walls and by a castle of great strength, which stood a siege of three weeks by the English, under Edward I., in 1303, and was only surrendered after its proprietor, Sir Thomas Maule, had been slain by a stone cast from an engine. The town was burnt by the Danes early in the 11th century, and by Montrose during the civil war of the reign of Charles I. On the 18th May, 1462, a battle was fought near Brechin, in which the Earl of Crawford was defeated by the forces of James II. of Scotland, under the Earl of Huntly. The town, which has a clean and pleasant appearance, consists of two principal streets, one of which runs northward from the old bridge for about a mile, and the other meets it about midway. The ground rises steeply in some parts of the town. The manufacture of linens, sailcloths, and osnaburghs is carried on, employing many hands. Good building stone is quarried, and there are spinning-mills, lime-works, two distilleries, two tobacco manufactories, and a brewery. In the middle of the town is the market-place, or cross, and the townhouse. The principal public building is the mechanics' institution, erected and endowed by Lord Panmure in 1838. It is in the Tudor style of architecture, with a tower about 80 feet high. There are also an academy connected with the Maison Dieu (an ancient hospital), a dispensary, and a savings-bank. Brechin has been a royal burgh from a remote antiquity. Under the Municipal Reform Act the government is vested in a provost; two bailies, and 11 councillors. It is also a parliamentary burgh, contributing with Montrose, Arbroath, Forfar, and Inverbervie to return one representative to parliament. This place was formerly the county town, and comprises within the limits of the borough 773 houses, inhabited by 1,869 separate families, or 7,180 individuals, of whom 1,118 were children between the ages of five and fifteen, attending school. Brechin is the seat of a presbytery in the synod of Angus and Mearns. The living is a collegiate charge, the stipend of the first minister being £292, and of the second £340. The parish church is part of the cathedral, dedicated to St. Ninian, which was built by David I. on the site of the ancient Culdee abbey: It was originally a handsome Gothic edifice, but has been disfigured and defaced by time and modern alterations. It stands on the edge of a ravine, opposite the castle. The Bishop of Brechin, in the reign of Charles I., is said to have distinguished himself by his determined conformity to the royal decree establishing the liturgy, and to have carried firearms with him into the pulpit. There are a chapel of ease, three Free churches, three belonging to the United Presbyterians, a Congregational chapel, and an Episcopal church. Part of the ancient chapel of Maison Dieu still remains, and has been occupied as a slaughterhouse and a stable. Near the cathedral is a "round tower," one of the only two found in Scotland, the other being at Abernethy. The tower of Brechin is built of freestone, well wrought; it is 80 feet high, with a spire or conical roof 23 feet more, and is 16 feet in diameter at the base. There are curious carvings about the doorway. The tower is said to lean slightly, and to be shaken by high winds. Brechin Castle, now the seat of Lord Panmure, is built on the site of an ancient castle. It stands on a precipitous rock by the river, and is separated from the town by a deep ravine. Towards the W. it presents a handsome and regular front, but towards the S. a confused mass of ancient remains and modern additions. The picturesque aspect of the place has been injured by the destruction of old woods and trees which formerly adorned it. Maitland, author of the histories of Edinburgh and London; Gillies, author of a history of Greece; and James Tytler, a contributor to the first edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," were natives of this town. Brechin supports a weekly newspaper, called the Brechin Advertiser. Tuesday is the market-day. Cattle fairs are held on Trinity Muir, 1 mile to the N. of the town, on the third Wednesday in April, the second Wednesday in June and two following days, the second Thursday in August, and the Tuesday before the last Wednesday of September. The June fair, for cattle, horses, and sheep, is one of the most important in Scotland, and has been held from time immemorial."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]