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Yetholm Scotland

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

Kirk Yetholm in the Nineteenth Century


Kirk Yetholm Main Street 1915

There was a baron baillie, appointed by the Marquis of Tweeddale, with the resulting right to a market and to fairs - one in July and one in October for the sale of sheep and cattle.

The base of the market cross, a large block of sandstone, used to be visible in front of where the Cross Keys Inn used to be. Unfortunately only the site remains as there is no cross and now no base either, with the road having been 'improved' in 1937. The Cross Keys Inn is now a house.

In 1866, the 'post' of Baron Baillie of Kirk Yetholm seems to have been vacant, while the resident Justice of the Peace was J B Boyd, Esq. of Cherrytrees, and the Police Officer was James Jackson of Yetholm.

Bailie Smith writing in 1817, described Kirk Yetholm as follows:

'The church, low, and covered with thatch, beyond which appears the straggled houses built in the old Scottish style, many of them with their gable ends, backs, or corners turned to the street; and still further up the Tinkler Row, with its low unequal, straw-covered roofs, and chimneys bound with rushes and hay-ropes. men and women loitering at their doors or lazily busied amongst their carts and panniers, and ragged children scrambling on the midden-steads (which rise before every cottage), in intimate and equal fellowship with pigs, poultry, dogs, and cuddies.'

In 1835, Kirk Yetholm had three inns, Town Yetholm had three or four, and there were seven houses where ale and spirits were sold.


Kirk Yetholm Gypsy Palace c 1945

Jeffrey describes the town in 1836 as follows:

'The town of the manor stands on the right bank of the Beaumont River, on the base of one of the Cheviot mountains. The inhabitants are all rentallers, under the family of Tweeddale. The feu consists of a house, garden, about a quarter of an acre of land in the loaning, privilege of turf and peat, and pasture for a horse and cow on an extensive common that runs into the heart of the mountains. A number of the rentallers farm each a few acres of land in the vicinity of the town, at rents from 2 to 3 10s per acre, which is considered extremely high; but as the occupiers are mostly tradesmen and day labourers, who work the land at leisure hours or when unemployed, they manage to make the land pay and prove a source of wealth to themselves and families. The town has been greatly improved within the last twenty-five years. The houses look better, the streets are cleaner, and last year an abundant supply of the purest water was introduced from the springs on the sides of the mountain above the town.'

'For some years past a number of Irish have taken up their abode in the town contrary to the wishes of the native population, and are employed generally in labouring on the farms around.'


Gypsy Row

Lucas, writing in 1882, , describes Yetholm:

'The village of Kirk Yetholm consists of one street of thatched and white-washed cabins or cottages of the poorer sort, freely interspersed with slated two-storeyed structures of a more modern character. At the western end of this street, which is of irregular width, fairly secluded amongst its own trees, stands the comfortable Manse; and opposite to this, on the north side of the street, is the singular-looking black Kirk, which is built of an igneous rock, as black as any coal.
At the other end, the street opens into a square, or green, on the eastern side of which there may be seen the remains of a row of thatched cabins. The highest of these, still inhabited, is dignified by the name of 'The Old Palace'. In it resides 'Princess Helen', the younger sister of the present venerable 'Queen of the Gypsies'. From this green the road to Wooler turns sharply up the hill to the south, having a row of cottages on the western side. The highest but one of these, a detached cabin was lately the residence of Queen Esther Faa-Blythe, the present Queen of the Gypsies.'

The Cross Keys is described by Charles Strang in his book 'Borders and Berwick' as:

'two-storey three-bay harled, with painted stone dressings, slated roof with rolled skews. Sundial on corner.'

Opposite the Border Hotel, and below the Gypsy Palace is the row of cottages known as Gypsy Row or Tinkers' Raw.

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