Thursday, 26 March 2015

St Michael's Church Yard 1972 Survey of Gravestones

Controversy rages over what is to be done  with what is arguably the most historic site in Crieff. Followers of  PerthshireCrieffStrathearn Local History Blogspot will recall I ran four  blogs on the Old St Michaels Church and Graveyard way back in July of 2014 .Since then sadly the building has been  further vandalised both inside and out and as  an entity has now  reached the point of inevitable demolition . The graveyard which ceased  to be the towns principal cemetery in 1853 contains recorded interments from the early 1700s  up until the  end of the 19th century Owners of lairs ( burial plots ) had the right after  formal closure  to lay their loved  ones  to rest and this  continued  for about 50 years from that date . The  general condition of  the cemetery deteriorated after the opening of the new St Michaels in Strathearn Terrace in the 1880s and the well known historian and recorder of information on Scottish burial grounds John MacGregor is recorded as saying " It is in a disgraceful state " after his visit to the Cemetery on the 27th of October 1894 .Things  seemed to improve thereafter and when John and Sheila Mitchell carried out the survey of headstones ( with the aid of Jean Davidson and and  local man Marshall Sloan ) in 1972 it was reported as being well kept . Sadly  the things  thereafter began to deteriorate and in  the 1990s the then local authority took it upon themselves  to remove the vast  majority of the stones ( destination  unknown ) and relocate the  better looking ones in a regimental line  parallel to the west boundary wall . Why ? The reason given at the time was to facilitate the cutting of the grass ! 

I consider it important that we do not forget those local souls who lie in this so ancient of places . A place  where Christian baptisms  were performed by the waters of the Alligan Burn as far back as the 6th Century and  people  were buried down through the centuries . 

The involvement of CUSP in trying to assess public opinion in the  future of  both the building and the grave yard  is important . Who  are CUSP ? I replicate the following  from their web site  ( )  and ask if you have any input regarding  the site do let them know of this . 

The Crieff and Upper Strathearn Partnership (CUSP) was formed in 2005 at the behest of Perth & Kinross Council, who wanted to be sure that proposals they were receiving from a variety of groups were actually representative of what people in the town and surrounding area wanted.
The object of the Partnership is defined in its constitution as being to “… act as an ‘umbrella group’ with the remit to identify social, economic and environmental projects for the benefit of the people of Crieff and Upper Strathearn and to source appropriate funding. This will be achieved by the inclusion of all partners and working together towards a common goal.”
Groups within the Partnership have nominated representatives who attend meetings which, on average, are held eight times each year. The Partnership is not static; it evolves, and other groups who work with or for the benefit of the community will always be welcomed.
At present (March, 2015), the Partnership is made up of the following constituent groups:
  • Crieff Community Council (CCC)
  • Crieff Community Initiative (CCI)
  • Crieff Community Trust (CCT)
  • Crieff in Leaf (CiL)
  • Crieff & Strathearn Tourist Association (CSTA)
  • Crieff & Strathearn Drovers’ Tryst Festival (DTF)
  • Strathearn Building Bridges (SBB)
  • Strathearn Vintage Ploughing Association (SVPA).

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Rise and Fall of Inchbrakie – The Story of the Graemes and Why A Great House Was Demolished and A Family Heritage Threatened

Inchbrakie House

The Inchbrakie story is one of the sad tales of the Strath. This ancient family once were one of the dominant influences in Strathearn and their names appeared with frequent regularity as the centuries unfold. The Graeme family of Inchbrakie are however still around. There is a most excellent web site
which provides a superb source of research and information into not only the family but also their domicile up until the late 19th century at Inchbrakie . Anthony Graeme , a present day descendant and a most charming person , lives in far off Devon but is a frequent visitor here in Strathearn .Interestingly , there are here in Crieff,  a couple of roads bearing that illustrious name .One wonders just how many of the inhabitants of houses in those specific airts know much about the original name !

We are, however ,  most fortunate that the family history of the Graemes was painstakingly recorded in a book Orr and Sable – a book of the Graemes and Grahams written by Louisa G Graeme and published in Edinburgh by William Brown in 1903 . Incredibly Andrew Graeme has managed to transcribe and put on the web site that original gem in collaboration with another of the clan and descendent of the author, Lucy Read. I acknowledge with thanks much of the information provided through these sources . As my own pedigree has a Graham great grandmother of Menteith extraction, I have obviously more than a passing interest in the fortunes of my distant cousins !

According to the Graeme web site the origins of the name come from Gryme , a Scottish leader whose daughter married Fergus ll , King of Scots . Gryme is reputed to have levelled part of Antonine’ s Wall as a response to the Roman’s attempts to pen the natives into that area of their kingdom to the north and that part of the wall became known as Gryme’s Dyke or Graeme’ s Dike . There also is a line of thought that the Grahams were of Norman extraction . This seems to stem from the usage by William Graham of the prefix “ de “ – he was known as William de Graham but it transpired that the name is not known in that part of France and most probably was added purely to add a degree of sophistication at a time when things French were regarded as being of the best .

The first Graeme of Inchbrakie was Patrick Graeme , 1st Baron of Inchbrakie  who was the second son of the First Earl of Montrose who had been killed at Flodden . He was granted lands prior to his father’s death by a Charter dated June 1513 some three months before the battle .He was granted the lands of Inchbrakie or Inchbraco, Pettquelerant and those by Cullard of Foules (sic) as well as the lands of Pyreny in the Stewartship of Strathearn. Patrick also owned the land of Strathbowie forming part of the Barony of Aberuthven. Patrick is attributed with building or restoring and enlarging the Castle of Inchbrakie in 1519. It was a substantial edifice fortified with a moat and with a drawbridge. The Castle was certainly an indication of the power of the Graemes in Strathearn in a somewhat traditional manner for that time. The turbulent times of the seventeenth century, however were to take their toll. The Castle was stormed by none other than Oliver Cromwell 1651 and set alight. It transpired he was after none other than the Marquis of Montrose, a kinsman of Inchbrakie. A large contingent of troops besieged the Castle but Montrose had escaped and , if legend is to be  believed took shelter in the old yew tree in the grounds . The Castle was later rebuilt but the changing pattern of life in Scotland saw change. The mansion house of Inchbrakie was built between 1733 and 1739 and later extended between 1839 and 1842.

If one drives out the back road from Crieff to Perth for about three miles , you pass the entrance to Dollerie House the home of the Murray family of Dollerie. Immediately to the left (due north) across the rolling fields you will spot (if the trees are bare) a small stone building ( a mausoleum ) .This is all that remains of the mansion of Inchbrakie once the home of the Graeme family. 

The tale of the burning of the so called witch Kate McNiven at the crags bearing her name above Gilmerton is appropriate to the story of the demise of the Graeme family . The fortunes of this old Strathearn family gradually fell apart after the warning given by Kate was forgotten. The mansion was bought by the neighbouring Drummond Murray’s of Abercairney and the mansion demolished circa 1880. This exert from the 1860 “Beauties of Strathearn “gives an idea what Inchbrakie was like:

"The mansion of Inchbrakie, enclosed by its fine grounds and plantations is seen at some distance on the right of the turnpike, about three miles distant from Crieff. The estate of Inchbrakie has long been the property of the Graemes, who in the history of the ancient and distinguished House of Graham claim an honourable place. 

The remains of the ancient castle of Inchbrakie, which had been surrounded by a moat, are in the vicinity of the mansion. This structure was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in order to punish the proprietor Patrick Graeme, who was Colonel of the posse connitatus of Perthshire, and an active officer in the army of his cousin, the great Marquis of Montrose. A grandson of Colonel Graeme who was an officer in the army of James ll, having killed a friend in a duel, was induced as a voluntary penance, to become a monk. He joined the mendicant order of Capuchins, and complied with the severe austerities of the monastic rules. At his death, he was superior of the convent at Boulogne. A portrait of Father Graeme in his Capuchin dress is amongst the paintings at Abercairney. There is preserved at Inchbrakie a curious relic; a blueish stone said to ban uncut sapphire which has been set in a gold ring. Kate McNiven, the supposed witch, who was executed at Monzie Crag, is said at he stake to have cast it from her mouth to the Laird of Inchbrakie, a near relative was then proprietor of the estate of Monzie – at the same time uttering that prediction that so long as it was preserved by his family, his race would continue to prosper. A yew tree in the park is said to be the second largest in Scotland. During a season of peril, it afforded concealment by its thick foliage to the great Marquis of Montrose. A musical air, by Niel Gow, is known as the “Miss Graeme of Inchbrakie “.  

When Abercairney took possession of Inchbrakie he is said to have driven over the demolished remains in his carriage and horses to signify his new ownership of these adjoining lands .

Sales Particulars 1878

Inchbrakie House

Perthshire – Estate of Inchbrakie – This beautiful RESIDENTIAL ESTATE , about two miles from Crieff will be exposed to SALE by Public Roup within Dowell’s Sale Rooms , No 18 George Street Edinburgh on Thursday , the Eleventh Day of July 1878 at 2 o’clock afternoon . The Estate is situate in the district of Strathearn and contains about 361 acres of which 275 are arable and 76 woodlands, the remainder consisting of houses , roads , gardens &c . The mansion house contains ample accommodation for a family and is situate in the midst of  admirably laid out grounds . There is a court of  offices adjoining the house , with laundry , stable of five stalls and two loose- boxes , coach houses &c . The house is about two miles from Crieff by road and is distant two miles from each of the following stations Innerpeffray on the Perth and Crieff Railway and Highlandman , on the Crieff Junction Railway, thus placing the property between easy reach of all parts of the country. A post messenger passes the lodge daily . There is beautiful flower garden near the mansion house and also a kitchen garden not too far distant , of about two acres in extent , with ample accommodation for gardeners, &c . The productive farm of Pittencleroch , and several pendicles , and also  the delightful residence of Arnbank Cottage  and grounds are on the property .There is a complete system of irrigation in excellent order on the water meadow . About 250 yards from the mansion – house there is a commodious farm steading , suitable for the cultivation of the whole or part of the property  by the proprietor . The shootings are very good, and yield excellent sport , embracing pheasants , partridges , wood cock , wild duck , and rabbits . The grounds are well stocked , and the woods afford excellent cover . The timber on the property is valuable and has been judiciously and tastefully planted. The salubrity of the climate of the district is well known . It is seldom so desirable a residential property comes into the market.. Full particulars with rental , acreage , plans of the estate , and all information as to the terms of the sale , will be supplied by Messrs Haldanes and Brookman , WS , 17 Charlotte –square , Edinburgh ; of Henry Gordon , Esq., Bank of Scotland , Pitlochry . Messrs Haldanes and Brookman are in possession of the title deeds . –Edinburgh , 17 Charlotte – square , 8th February , 1878 .

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Crieff at the time of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1897

Victoria reigned  from 1837  to 1901 – an incredible 64  years . She  celebrated  her Diamond Jubilee of  60 years  upon the throne in 1897 .

Crieff as a centre of population has  been  around  a long time . Recent  discoveries have revealed a Neolithic past when this  part of Strathearn was emerging as a place of importance The present  town however is  solidly Victorian with a smattering remnant of the Georgian  in  places like Burrell Square ( The Octagon of yesteryear ) and Ruberslaw House . The following  little  essay is yet another  plucked  from  my tattered little copy of Dixons “ Crieff in the Victorian Era “ and was written in the year of the Jubilee in 1897 so reflects  what  our town was like in the pre motor car era !

Burrell Square formerly The Octagon

“To know and understand Crieff as it exists in the year  of the Diamond Jubilee of her Majesty Queen Victoria , it is necessary  in the first place  to have some years experience in the town , and in the second place  to have some sense of observation . There are casts , sets ,cliques and circles  , sufficient to make India hide its face  in very shame ; and there are more public houses , doctors , lawyers , ministers , billiard rooms  and churches than  in almost  any town  in either Scotland , England or Ireland. If you are in one set , you are not in the other , your principal duty is to stick to it . You know  the sets by their unfailing attachment ; you know  the circles  by their  consequential airs ; you distinguish the casts by the way  they carry  their heads ; and you can easily discover the cliques   by their  unflagging attention  to everybodies tourist   affairs  but their own .

In the summer  time , Crieff life  actually  begins  to be of interest  about 10 am . The prosperous  business man charges  along the High Street  shouldering  his morning newspaper, and tells  everybody “it’s a good “ , or  a “ better day “ ; all the tradesmen  hanging about James Square , scatter like birds  in a thunderstorm ; the legal  men break  into a professional trot , and shortly disappear  into their offices ; all the budding doctors  on the hunt for broken legs , flutter about at every corner ; the matron seeks out the cheapest dinner , and stows  it away in an arrangement like a poacher’s net ; the early rising  visitors swagger   about in skirts , blouses and ties , suggesting  everything that is Jubilee ; the tourist , in the garb of the northern landlord  , shoulders  his knapsack , and strides away ; and the local  press men chase  one another to along to the Police Court  wondering if the weather is likely to be suitable  for a Comrie Earthquake . As time  wears on  to noonday , the streets are thronged  by another population . Where they come out of is hard  to say but they are all there . Stout ladies with delicate  looking husbands  step slowly  along the centre of the pavement and stop  and stare in every shop window . Behind come their beaming but sorely oppressed daughters, watching every thing and everybody , and behind them again comes the confounded  little brother   who swears  he will tell “ all about it “ if they don’t buy  him something  at the nearest sweetie shop . Mixed  among this crowd are the visitors who  imagine they know all  about everything . When they reach  the Murray fountain  , they stop  for a minute  and criticise the architecture  . “ Gothic “ , says one , “ Grecian “ , says  another . “ Both wrong “ remarks  another - “ Corinthian “ , and there  they stand pointing out  with their walking sticks  defects in  balance , and generally  condemning the  style of architecture . “ Who’s Murray ? “ asks  some one . “ Oh a Waterloo hero “, answers some one else. “ Correct “, says another , not to be behind in his  historical information , and away they walk congratulating themselves  on their knowledge  of everything that is  useful .  Then there is a multifarious  collection of visitors whose chief ideas  of a quiet holiday are a parade  about the streets  before dinner , and  a short walk in the afternoon . You can see them  any day in the summer mashing  about  with white parasols , and last year’s ball dresses improved at the neck , and all looking  supernaturally grand .

It is not till the afternoon that Crieff people  themselves are seen  at their best . Round the shops  the older people  roam , admiring everything that is new, and buying  everything that is useless . A carriage draws up ; the head shop man  rushes to open the door ; the lady steps on to the pavement  with the airs   of an eastern princess , he orders  half a pound of cheese  and a pound of butter  , and pays  the account a  year hence .Later on there put in n appearance  the people  who have reduced   afternoon calling  to a fine  art  , and whose sole work  at home is dusting  the drawing - room  mantle shelf , and looking out  for new  and reliable  servants .Thy skip along  the High street  , and omit to recognise  all their old friends  , and practice  afternoon tea  in the back garden , in prospect of the  county gatherings  in the Autumn . About four o’clock stylish Crieff is afloat on bicycles . Like the new telegraph boys , they believe , because they are in a hurry , they can knock  everybody over , and never say “  Sorry “ .  Away they fly , all laughing  and gay , and when the chivalrous youths  round the corner   observe their approach , they raise their caps  , and shortly follow in their wake . Two hours thereafter the daughters of  the wheel return , tired and jaded , and next morning they get breakfast in bed . It is about  seven o’clock in the evening  that the male population  is most in evidence . Newmarket coats  , sticks, canes , cigarettes  and silk handkerchiefs  follow their masters  out to Ochtertyre   or round the Knock  , or oftener  to the nearest billiard table . The actual working population gathers in James Square  with the regularity  of an eight - day clock and the pavement swells with an interesting variety  of people of all castes and classes , trying to impress the population  with their outstanding importance . In the evening, too , golf  and bowling are in full swing , and there are   the usual spooning  and flirting at the tennis court . All are enjoyable games, - particularly th tennis. The patrons  become attached  to the game  , sometimes in the interests of  sport , but too often from a business point of view , and there the  fly about  till after sundown , while their mammas are slaving at home  with lodgers  to raise the rent  - Sic vita  est  .

Life in Crieff is an interesting study, and the subject gives ample scope in itself for a book which has yet to be written , In a short sketch , such as this , only the principal features can be  touched upon . To deal  with the subject in a complete  form , one would require to start  with the men whose work is a profession , and the men whose profession  is doing nothing ; joining  in the same chapter  , the class who mix up their profession  with labour , by sweeping out the shop  on the Saturday morning . Then there would come the working classes  , for whom we hold the  highest respect , and then all the other  sections of the people  in the town which go to make up a highly intelligent community . Crieff is worth  seeing and knowing , and those who find nothing about it to interest and amuse , must walk with their eyes closed , or be in love  with their own shadow .”

Murray Fountain in 1893 , some four years  prior to the Jubilee