Allanton, Scottish Borders
infobox UK place
country = Scotland
Allanton is a small village in the pre-1975 ancient county of
Berwickshire, now an administrative area of the Scottish Bordersregion of Scotland.
Allanton lies one mile south of
Chirnsideand six miles east of the border with Northumberland. Its closest market towns are Dunsand Berwick-upon-Tweed. The village stands high above the confluence of the Whiteadder and Blackadder Waters, the site of two bridges.
Allanton Bridge forms two spans over the
Whiteadder Water, dated 1841, by Robert Stevenson and Sons. Blackadder Bridge spans the Blackadder Water, dated 1851. In a copse between the two bridges is an early 19th Century Ferryman's Cottage (ruined).
‘Adder’ is from the old English word ‘awedur’, meaning ‘running water’ or ‘stream’. There is mention of Blakadir de Eodem (of that ilk) holding lands in the earldom of March in 1426.
Allanton is a single street, mostly lined with single storey terraced cottages. The earliest were built in the late 18th to early 19th Century with gardens, on feus granted by Steuart of Allanbank. In the 20th Century the village was notable as a village of Tailor's shops, having three, the last of which closed in the 1960's. All three are now private residences. The village contains a Public House and Restaurant, a Village Hall, a Children's Playground and a Public Telephone Booth. The Village Post Office closed in 2006.
John Lessels1854), at the Northwest of the village overlooking the confluence of the Whiteadder and Blackadder Waters, was formerly a school for the daughters of senior staff on the Blackadder Estate.
The Old Bakehouse, at the southern end of the western terrace, is a stone built end terraced cottage dating back to the early Nineteenth Century, and formerly the Bakehouse to the Blackadder Estate
Allanton Village Hall, the former schoolroom, breaks the western terrace of cottages in the middle of the village.
Opposite the hall is Holmeknowe, a two story stone house notable for tripartite segmental-arched windows - the centre one originally forming the doorway to the Tailor's shop. A single storey workroom was situated to the rear, with an exterior stable-block. It has feu dating back to 1764.
Brunton House is a large stone built Victorian villa, with the remants of workshops behind the main building. The Brunton family were renowned tailors in Edinburgh and moved the business to Allanton in 1873 and had the present property built in 1897. It is now a family home, upon two floors, though retains many features of the Tailor's shop.
The Allanton Inn forms the southern end of the eastern terrace, formerly two cottages joined in the 1830's. It is joined to the Old Fire Station (originally a stable and hayloft for the Inn).
The village also contains several other buildings relating to the Blackadder Estate: the Smiddy House, the two entrance lodges - Lydd Cottage and Westside Cottage (south west), and the Carter's House (east terrace).
Several houses in Allanton and on the Blackadder Estate use a common motif in their architecture: Tudor Style hood moulds, and fishscale bands of green, red and grey roof slating. This motif is seen on the Smiddy House, Sheaf House, North Lodge and Ardsheil among others.
Within Allanton's main street still stand a pair of splay-fronted lodges (Lydd Cottage and Westside Cottage), defining the entrance to the former Blackadder House, a magnificent classical house built in
Palladianstyle around an earlier tower housewhich possibly had circular towers at angles. James Playfairdrew up plans for substantial rebuilding and remodelling of the earlier house (but unexecuted), which were superseded by Robert Adam's castellatedproposals which gave the house its final profile. That was in turn remodelled and extended by John Lessels, circa 1853, who ballastraded the terraces and wallheads, built a large asymmetrical wing, and other improvements.
The farm of Blackadder Mains along with Blackadder Bank, Blackadder West and Blackadder Mount and the nearby village of Allanton were all originally part of the Blackadder Estate which surrounded Blackadder House.
While the house is gone, impressive ruins remain that make a walk through the estate worthwhile. Little remains of the house other than a folly walkway with stone balustrade which was at the back of the house below ground level, cut into the rock of a cliff face that overlooks the river Blackadder below. Where the house was a wood was planted. Below the folly on the bank of the river the remains of the hydro electric power house is still visible (Blackadder House was reputedly the first in Berwickshire to have electric lighting).
Other buildings built to service the estate remain. Blackadder Cottage (or the 'Butler's House')with an impressive pair of lions on the parapet, sits on a high bank above the
Blackadder Water. Allanbank Courtyard is a U-planned steading begun c. 1780. There is also a Walled Garden with a Summerhouse, and several bridges over the Blackadder Water. An impressive stable range with tower and obelisk steeple survive the destruction of the house, attributed to architect Alexander Boswell in 1785.
Demise of the Estate
The house was serviced by a small army of servants, many of whom were housed in the village. Berwickshire was once described as “The Home of the Stately Home” and within a mile of Blackadder House lay Allanbank House (which was the Dower House to Blackadder) and Kelloe House, both of which are no more.
During the nineteenth century the Estate was owned by the Boswall family and a Robert Boswall was chosen by a childless relative, Dr. Alexander Boswall, to be heir to the estate of Blackadder. To prepare him for this responsibility, Robert was placed in the Royal Navy and a fiance, Lady Lucy Ann Preston, was chosen for him. However, Robert did well at sea aboard the H.M. Queen Charlotte, and when his captain died at sea he was bidden to take care of the widow and her daughter. He was stationed at the Royal Navy Garrison in Gibraltar, in command of the British Gunship Cacafogo during English hostilities with Spain, when he married his former Captain's daughter. Dr Boswall disinherited him for disobeying his wishes and marrying someone other than Lady Lucy, and Lady Lucy was given to another cousin, Thomas Boswall, who did inherit. Although the Blackadder estate was sold finally by his descendants, when Euphemia Boswall inherited it in 1830 she was considered to be one of the richest heiresses in Britain.
World War Ithe mansion was requisitioned by the government as accommodation for troops, who vandalised the building, using parts of the grand staircase bannisters for firewood. The post-war government refused to pay for the restitution of the house to its former state and with the agricultural depression it was closed up. It was demolished circa 1925.
Early History of the Blackadder Estate
The Blackadder family were an integral part of the constant Borders’ feuds, and opportunistically extended their lands by grants from James II. These were bestowed as a reward for repelling English raids, with great ferocity. The Borders holdings of Blackadder of that Ilk were taken into the family of Home (now the Home Robertson family) by the marriage of Beatrix and her younger sister, the only heirs of their father Robert, to younger sons of Home of Wedderburn in 1518 (Wedderburn Castle is still owned by his descendent, Georgina Home-Robertson).
According to Anderson, this was achieved in the following manner: ‘Andrew Blackadder followed the standard of Douglas at Flodden in 1513 and was slain along with two hundred gentlemen of that name on that disastrous field leaving a widow and two daughters, Beatrix and Margaret, who at the time were mere children. From the unprotected state of Robert’s daughters, the Homes of Wedderburn formed a design of seizing the lands of Blackadder. They began by cutting off all within their reach whose affinity was dreaded as an hereditary obstacle. They attacked Robert Blackadder, the Prior of Coldingham, and assassinated him. His brother, the Dean of Dunblane, shared the same fate. Various others were dispatched in like manner.
They now assaulted the Castle of Blackadder (which was sited somewhere on the land that is now Blackadder Mains and was destroyed in the early 1500's when the English, under the command of Surrey, invaded Scotland) where the widow and her two young daughters resided....
The garrison refused to surrender but the Homes succeeded in obtaining possession of the fortress, seized the widow and her children, compelling them to the marriage by force. The two daughters were contracted to younger sons, John and Robert in 1518 and as they were only in their eighth year, they were confined in the Castle of Blackadder until they became of age.
Whatever the truth of this story, the Home possession of the estates was challenged by a cousin, Sir John Blackadder, who held the lands of Tulliallan. Sir John sought assistance from Parliament but, as was so often the case at that time, the matter was ultimately resolved by steel. Sir John Blackadder was beheaded in March 1531 for the murder of the Abbot of Culross in a dispute over land. He was succeeded in the barony of Tulliallan by his brother Patrick, who again renewed his dispute against the Homes for the family lands. Again, Anderson accused the Homes of treachery in the story of Patrick’s murder in an ambush near Edinburgh, where he was to meet the Homes to try to resolve their differences. The Blackadders thereafter relinquished their claim to the Borders lands, and Sir John Home was created, Baronet, of Blackadder in 1671.
* "Lost Houses of Scotland", by Marcus Biney, John Harris, & Emma Winnington, for SAVE Britain's Heritage, London, July 1980, ISBN 0-905978-05-6
* "Borders and Berwick" by Charles Alexander Strang, The Rutland Press, 1994, ISBN 1-873190-10-7
* "The Buildings of Scotland - Borders", by Kitty Cruft, John Dunbar and Richard Fawcett, Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 0 300 10702 1
* "The Scottish Nation - Or the Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours and Biographical History of The People of Scotland", By William Anderson 1863
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