Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Jedburgh – The Scottish Borders.

Based in the Scottish Borders, Jedburgh is a picturesque village only 10 miles from the English border making it subject to raids and skirmishes back in the day. It has plenty to offer the visitor. Its biggest attraction, other than one of the best-stocked ironmongery shops we have been in for a very long time, is the substantial ruins of Jedburgh Abbey founded in 1147. It was the borders wars with England in the 16th century that left it in its ruined state we see today.
View towards Jedburgh from the Jail.
Another attraction is the Jedburgh Castle/Jail, which includes a museum of local history situated in what was the Jailers House. The prison was built in 1823 on the site of a mediaeval castle that was destroyed in 1409. The prison was far ahead of its time being designed by the British Prison Reformer John Howard to be ‘hygienic and humane’. Each prisoner was weighed, measured and details of his or her appearance were recorded.  Although not very appetising prisoners were put on individual diets to suit there needs, given medical treatment when required, they took part in exercise routines and were given work to do to relieve there boredom. All of which were unheard of at that time and went a long way to improve prison conditions not only in Scotland but in many other countries as well. 

The Jedburgh Jail formally a castle.

Another must see attraction is the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre housed in a fine fortified tower house dating back to the 16th century. It is the house in which the Queen of the Scots stayed in October 1566 overseeing the local district court. A year later she was forced to abdicate and spent the last nineteen years of her life as a prisoner following this she was beheaded by her cousin for being of the wrong religious persuasion.
The front of Mary Queen of Scots Visitors Centre.

The rear of the house. 

The Borders Railway.

After a very long campaign taking around 46 years The Borders Railway was finally opened on the 6th September 2015. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was joined by the Queen and other quests and dignitaries, was there at the official opening. The journey which takes under an hour links Scotland's capital city with Galashiels, where the original railway closed in 1969, the commuter station Tweedbank and passes through various stops including the former mining village of Newcraighall, Eskbank, Newtongrange, which was at one time Scotland biggest mining community and is now the home of Scottish Mining Museum, and Gorebridge which is another village that was on the original railway network but was also closed in the 1960's. A pleasant journey that winds its way through some very beautiful borders countryside and has good links from local bus services, some of which are not too regular. We travelled on a number 68 direct from Jedburgh to the bus station in Gorebridge to catch the train to Edinburgh and returned the same way although on this particular route the buses only run every two hours! One of the highlights of the bus journey is visiting the picturesque village of St Boswell whose village green is said to be the biggest in Scotland and from there you are able to get various connections across the Borders towns from its bus station.

Abbotsford and Gardens.

To gain admittance to the house and grounds, in which one of Scotland's greatest and best known writers had made his family home, you have to pass through an award winning new visitors centre which houses a grand restaurant, you need to try the jam and cream filled scones with your coffee, a very well laid out shop and an exhibition highlighting the life and works of Sir Walter Scott. After paying the entrance fee you enter the world of the author who wrote Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and Waverley to name but a few of the mans prolific output. It was the cost of building Abbotsford  and the debt that was accumulated due to the 1825 UK banking crisis that drove one of Scotland best-known personalities to spend the last six years of his life writing to clear these debts and keep his pride. The house was originally a farmhouse that Scott had purchased for £4000. It was demolished to make way for the first stage of a two-stage building protect with the third section including the Chapel built after Scott’s death by his granddaughter Charlotte Hope-Scott. The house was built in the Scots Baronial Style of Architecture.

The House and its grounds. 

The grounds border the River Tweed and its river walk offered a sight of salmon fish jumping out of its flowing water, the sight of a blue winged Herron and a very large bird of pray eyeing up its lunch. An exceptional day out and a place that deserves subsequent visits, and as long as you keep your entry receipt and you’re within one year of your initial visit is free.

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