LASSWADE - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"LASSWADE, a parish in the county of Edinburgh, Scotland. It comprises the villages of Lasswade, Loanhead, Roslin, and Rosewell. The size of the parish is about 8 miles by 3. Its surface consists of a fertile plain situated under the Pentland hills, which occupy the N.W. extremity of the parish. Here are abundant supplies of sandstone, limestone, and coal, the last being principally worked in the neighbourhood of Rosewell and Loanhead. The river North Esk runs through the whole length of the parish, and on its banks is a continuous succession of seats; the principal are Dryden, Rosebank, Goston, Auchindinny, Mavisbank, Springfield, Polton, Elden, and Glenesk.

The ruins of Roslin Castle and its chapel stand on a rock overhanging the glen of the Esk. Hawthornden, the classical habitation of the poet Drummond, the friend of Shakspeare and Jonson, and now the property of Sir James Walker Drummond, is situated on the S. bank of the Esk, on the edge of a cliff, beneath which are three artificial caves, said to have afforded shelter to the Scots in turbulent times. Melville Castle, built at the latter end of last century, is the seat of Viscount Melville.

The parish is in the presbytery of Dalkeith, and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The minister's stipend is £180. The parish church, which stands on an eminence, is a commodious structure, erected in 1793. There is a chapel-of-ease at Roslin (under the patronage of the male communicants), and also a Free church. At Loanhead is a Free Church preaching station, and a Reformed Presbyterian church. There are two United Presbyterian churches, one at Bridgend, and the other at Lasswade. There are twelve non-parochial schools throughout the parish.

The present parish of Lasswade includes the ancient parish of Lasswade, and the greater portion of the ancient parishes of Pentland and Melville. The ancient church, the burial-place of the Melville family, is now in ruins, and contains the ashes of the first viscount of that title, distinguished during the ministry of Mr. Pitt. On Roslin Moor a battle was fought in 1302, in which the Scots, under Comyn, then guardian of the kingdom, and Simon Fraser, attacked and defeated three divisions of English on the same day.

The parish contains carpet, damask, paper, gunpowder, and other manufactories. The village of Lasswade is 6 miles from Edinburgh, and 2 from Dalkeith. The neighbourhood is much frequented by visitors from Edinburgh and other places during the summer months. The parish is intersected by the Peebles railway, which has stations at Roslin and Hawthornden. Coaches run between this place and Edinburgh. Some of Sir Walter Scott's happiest years were here spent. Near Mavisbank House is a supposed Roman station. Urns and antique weapons have been found in the neighbourhood."

"DRYDEN, a village in the parish of Lasswade, in the county of Edinburgh, Scotland, 4 miles S.W. of Dalkeith."

"MELVILLE, an ancient parish in county Edinburgh, Scotland, now joined to Lasswade."

"ROSEWELL, a village in the parish of Lasswade, county Edinburgh, Scotland, 3 miles S. of Lasswade."

"ROSLIN, a village in the parish of Lasswade, county Edinburgh, Scotland, 4 miles S.W. of Dalkeith, and 12½ from Edinburgh by the Peebles branch of the North British railway, on which it is a station. It was anciently a place of considerable consequence, and was erected into a burgh of barony by James II. of Scotland, at Stirling, in 1456. Near this place the English, under John de Segrave, Regent of Scotland, were thrice defeated on the same day, 24th February, 1302, by the Scots, under their chiefs, Sir Simon Fraser and Sir John Coming. On 21st April, 1801, Roslin was created an earldom in the ancient and noble family of Erskine.

The chapel, which was erected in 1446 by William St. Clair, or Sinclair, Prince of Orkney, is of ancient Gothic architecture, decorated with sculpture, and the capitals of the pillars enriched with foliage. On 11th December, 1681, it suffered some injury from the fury of the mob, but was restored in the beginning of the present century by General Sinclair, the then proprietor, at a considerable outlay. Within the chapel, which is only 68 feet long by 35 broad, is the family vault of the lairds of Roslin, who were buried of old in their armour, without any coffins, and owing to the dryness of the soil the bodies were preserved entire for upwards of 80 years.

There are also ruins of the old parish church, the burial ground of which is still used, at a short distance N.W. of the castle, so well known by the pleasing song of Macneill which bears its name. This ancient fortress is said to have been the palace of William St. Clair, Prince of Orkney, who lived here in great state, but was burnt, together with the castle of Craig-Millar, by the forces of Henry VIII. It was subsequently rebuilt on an almost insulated rock, in the glen on the N. side of the river North Esk, which is wooded down to the water edge, and is surrounded by overhanging hills. In the village is a market cross, where a weekly market, on Saturday, and an annual fair on the feast of SS. Simon and Jude, have been held since the reign of James II. of Scotland."

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

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