Monday, 26 September 2016

Dunblane Cathedral Bells




Saturday, 24 September 2016

I'm going bald

I am gradually going bald but I don't think I'll be solving the problem the way this gentleman n Dunblane once did...


Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Leighton Library, Dunblane


The Leighton Library, the oldest purpose-built library in Scotland, was founded on the collection of Robert Leighton, Bishop of Dunblane, 1661-1670, later Archbishop of Glasgow, 1670-1674. In his will, Leighton left a sum of money for the building of the library for use by the clergy of Dunblane diocese.



The library is situated close by Dunblane Cathedral and was built in part from fallen stone from the nearby ruined Bishop's Palace. The total cost of the library was £ 162-2s-6d. Leighton had retired to Sussex, where he died, and his books were transported by horse and cart and by sea before being installed in the completed library. The building is a two storey construction with the books situated in a single room lined with presses on the first floor.  This is accessed by the original external staircase. The lower floor, or undercroft, originally functioned as the living quarters for the first librarian.


The library originally housed the books bequeathed to it by Robert Leighton, numbering around 1400. The original presses, above, hold Leighton’s books.   The third shelf down shows the 'paperbacks' of the time - i.e. books bound in vellum rather than leather.


Still to be seen in the library are 
"Twelve chairs of turkie red lether", 
part of the original bequest.


Leighton's books have been added to over the years so that the library now houses around 4,500 volumes printed in 89 languages, including Greek, Persian, Syrian and Gaelic. 


Polyglot Bible

First Edition of The Lady of the Lake







Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Wallace Monument


The Wallace Monument, immensely impressive on its wooded summit, is one of Scotland's best known landmarks and a national icon. Those who paid for admission at the visitor centre can ascend the tower via a spiral staircase, and see Wallace's enormous broadsword and the superb views from the top.


The Wallace Monument is situated on the top of Abbey Craig, overlooking the river Forth and the Forth Valley. As we approached the mist was still hanging around the top of Abbey Craig.  Only Stirling Castle, a few miles away across the river Forth, makes a bigger impression on the area. Abbey Craig at one time was the site of a hill fort and in 1297 William Wallace camped there before defeating the English attempting to cross the Forth at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

The monument is 220 feet high, 54 square feet at its base, with the tower 36 square feet. The walls are 16/18 feet at their thickest, tapering to 5 feet thick at their thinnest. It is estimated that there were in excess of 30,000 tons of stones used in the construction.
  


The idea for a monument to one of Scotland's National Heroes began in the 1830s on a world-wide tide of Scottish nationalism.  Sir Walter Scott was fanning these flames - he had rediscovered the "Honours of Scotland" (crown, sword and sceptre) in Edinburgh Castle in 1818, 111 years after they had been locked away after the Union of the Parliaments in 1707.   And of course his novels had led to a re-awakening of an interest in Scotland's history.



A group of prominent Scots formed a National Monument Committee in the 1830s. However, in typical committee fashion, it took until the 1850s before serious steps were taken to build a monument. Initially the preferred site was Glasgow Green. However, on the instigation of the Rev Dr Charles Rogers, the chaplain at Stirling Castle, the site at Abbey Craig was selected. Since 1709 the land had been owned by the Patrons of Cowanes Hospital, a charity established in 1637. Cambuskenneth Abbey (founded around 1147 by King David I) sits at the foot of Abbey Craig.

A public subscription was launched and a design competition was organised. The winner was an Edinburgh architect, J T Rochead. When the foundation stone was laid in 1863, a crowd of 70,000 were present. But disputes amongst the National Monument Committee members and financial problems resulted in construction not being completed until 1869.


The design of the monument is in the Scottish "Baronial" style and represented a Scottish Medieval tower, rising from a courtyard, with a representation on the top of the Crown Royal of Scotland. 

One of the coaches visiting the monument when we called here.
  



Monday, 19 September 2016

Sanquhar Post Office


While in Scotland last week we called at Sanquhar (pronounced SANK-er) Post Office, in Dumfries and Galloway  Established in 1712 it is said to be the oldest continuously operating post office in the world. 


Dr Manzoor Alam, 73, a postal historian and stamp collector from Birmingham, took over as postmaster in July 2015 when the post office came up for sale.





We went inside and chatted to the postmaster’s very pleasant wife and daughter.


The post office was refurbished in 1997.  To celebrate the fact the Royal Mail presented it with a replica Victorian Penfold pillar box.


'...The 1711 Act also empowered the establishment of Cross Posts, services between various towns, not on the main route to Edinburgh or London, and Bye Posts, which served as feeders to and from the Post Towns.
The men who carried the mail on foot were known as runners and they received fixed payments that, in many cases, were substantially greater than the salaries of the postmasters – an interesting reflection of relative values.
One of the earliest Cross Posts that was established was between Dumfries and Ayr, up the Nith Valley via Sanquhar ( pronunciation : SANK-er) and Cumnock.
This service was apparently established in 1712 and it would have been at this time that the present post office in Sanquhar started its long career as a change-house, where the runners rested and were refreshed, and exchanged mailbags before starting on their respective return journeys back to Dumfries or on to the next stage at Cumnock.'

Source: "Sanquhar Post Office, The Oldest Working Post Office in the World" (2005) by Ken Thompson, owner and manager of the Sanquhar post office for 17 years.  I bought a copy of this book at the Post Office and it is quite fascinating.


Near the post office is this blue plaque.


 This is Sanquhar’s 18th Century Tolbooth, now a museum. 


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