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Cranston or Cranstoun, Edinburghshire

Historical Description

CRANSTON, or CRANSTOUN, a parish, in the county of EDINBURGH, 1 mile (N. by W.) from Ford; containing, with the villages of Chesterhill, Cowsland, Preston, and Sauchenside, 1128 inhabitants. The name is said to be derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, signifying "the crane's district", and applied on account of the number of cranes that resorted to this part. In the twelfth century, the parish was divided into two manors called Upper and Nether Cranston, in the latter of which the church was situated. Early in the reign of William, Upper Cranston was possessed by Elfrie de Cranestun, who derived his surname from the manor, and whose descendants retained the property till the time of Charles II., when William, the third Lord Cranstoun, sold it to Sir John Fletcher, the king's advocate. Nether Cranston, which was the larger of the two manors, was granted by Earl Henry to Hugh Ridel, from whom it obtained the name of Cranston-Ridel, which it retained till recent times. The church, with its tithes and other pertinents, was bestowed by Hugh Ridel upon the monks of Kelso, for the sake of the soul of David I. and that of Earl Henry; and with them it continued till 1317. During this period they enjoyed the revenues of the rectory, a minister serving the cure, and receiving the vicarial tithes. The manor and chapelry of Cousland were annexed to the parish of Cranston at the Reformation: the chapel was burnt by Somerset, when he invaded Scotland with a large army to coerce Queen Mary into a marriage with the young king of England.

The PARISH, which is entirely agricultural, is five miles in length and three in breadth, and contains an area of about 6000 acres; including the lands of Cakemuir, separated from the main portion of Cranston by the parish of Crichton. The surface is varied by continued inequalities, and the undulations, adorned with fine seats and flourishing woodlands, and the well cultivated and verdant fields, render the general aspect interesting and beautiful. The prospects from the more elevated grounds are commanding; and the picturesque valley through which the Tyne river here pursues its course from south to north, adds greatly to the scenery. The soil, consisting partly of clay and partly of light earth, is generally fertile, and the whole of the land is arable, with the exception of about 300 acres in Cakemuir, and about the same quantity occupied by wood. Every kind of crop is raised, of good quality; but the staple commodity is corn, which is sent to the Dalkeith market, about four miles distant. All the modern improvements in husbandry have been introduced, and the farm-buildings and inclosures are in good order. There are several quarries of freestone and limestone, from which an abundant supply is obtained, and splint-coal is also wrought to a very considerable extent. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6813.

The chief mansions are, Oxenford Castle, the seat of the Earl of Stair, a magnificent building, situated on the west bank of the Tyne, and surrounded by beautiful grounds; and Preston Hall, on the east bank of the river, the splendid residence of W. B. Callender, Esq. The mansion-house of Cakemuir is likewise a remarkable building; the ancient part is of great age, consisting of a square tower, with boldly projecting battlements and walls of extraordinary thickness. An apartment here is called Queen Mary's room, and it is supposed that the name has arisen from the circumstance of that princess having occupied it shortly after her flight from Borthwick, in the vicinity. Chesterhall House, a rather old structure, was lately taken down. The parish is crossed by two good turnpike-roads, and facility of communication is afforded by two new and excellent bridges on one of them. That at Cranston Dean is forty-six feet high, and consists of three arches, each of seventeen feet span: Lothian Bridge is eighty-two feet high, and consists of five arches, each of fifty feet span, surmounted by ten segment arches, each of fifty-four feet span and eight feet rise. On the same line of road an embankment has been formed over the Cotty burn, at the height of fifty-four feet, by which the distance is diminished 1200 yards. For ecclesiastical purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dalkeith, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; patron, the Earl of Stair. The stipend of the minister is about £260, with an elegant manse, built in 1830, at the expense of Mr. Callender, and a glebe let at £29. 10. per annum. Cranston church is a neat edifice of freestone, built in 1825, at the cost of Sir John Dalrymple, and will accommodate about 350 persons. There is a parochial school, where the usual branches of education are taught; the master's salary is £34, with £21. 10. fees, and the allowance of house and garden. A good parish library was instituted in 1830, and the poor have the interest of £357 left by some charitable persons. Many petrifactions are found.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis