“The House by the Mill in the Meadow” by James Cornfield (2004)
Down Pech Brae by Calder’s stream, in autumn is a place so green,
orange, gold and yellow too, all enhanced by old Millheugh,
the place that Blantyre people know, as the House by the Mill in the Meadow
to describe the scene the poets unable, me thinks t’would need, John Constable.
Fact and fiction in this village abound, of tales untold of this ancient ground,
wherein this house of old Millheugh, lived the Millar family everyone knew,
for 400 years they reigned supreme, Laird of all this pleasant scene,
notable house guests came there daily, like Bothwell poetress, Joanne Baillie.
O’er yonder Brig lies Malcolmwood, a farm which straddles this ancient road,
Mary Queen of Scots and her gallant side, on their way to battle at Langside,
crossed the Calder at Pattenholm Ford, this unruly warlike horde,
camped yestreen in Dykesholm dell, and drank of the water, from yonder well.
This army under Mary’s command, were used to living off the land,
partook of Farmer Rocheads cattle, to sustain themselves for morn’s battle,
they ate, drank and made merry, with pillaged beef and mulled sherry,
before they left and made their way to destiny, fame and victory.
This ancient highway that they trod, twas the old stagecoach road,
thru ‘Blantyre from east, with horses changed at the Hoolets Nest,
The Barnhill Tavern its proper name, is indeed a place of fame
Blantyre’s oldest Tavern it maybe, being next to Aggie Bains House of 1563.
‘Twas in this ancient part of town, the rest of Blantir was built around,
a Church stood here in days of yore, built by Monks from a distant shore,
an Iron Age burial urn was found, buried ‘neath the marshy ground,
of Archer’s Croft, where men honed their skills, with bow and arrows with quills.
A Man of vision then came here and damned the Clyde at yonder weir,
David Dale used this stream, for power to drive and fulfil his dream,
of building a model village here, and made houses, school and mills appear.
in Blantyre Works Village, his desire, then called this place, Low Blantyre.
A great wee poem by late historian Jimmy Cornfield with a tour around Blantyre’s history, something he was excellent at putting into words.
A few wee minor corrections though. The Millar property was Milheugh which in the mid 19th Century onwards only has one “l”. Millheugh, with two “l”s is in Larkhall but still appears incorrectly in many places online. There’s actually no evidence in historical documentation to prove that Mary Queen of Scots camped in Blantyre and this should be taken as myth. Aggie Bain’s house has the date ‘1536’ above the door, rather than 1563. David Dale did indeed dam the Clyde more substantially than had been there previously in the 1780’s, but the name “Low Blantyre” was not coined by him, but instead looks to have first appeared in maps when more regimented postal addresses came into effect in the 1920’s and 1930s. Until then, areas in the north of Blantyre were still very much named and referred to as the Village, Stonefield and Coatshill.
Jimmy’s passion for Blantyre was self-evident and infectious. In the few times we met, I bombarded him with questions about Blantyre and of course I’ve dedicated some of my own books to him, noting what a remarkable man he was. How he researched and accumulated so much Blantyre knowledge without the internet is just beyond me!
He remains one of my inspirational figures in life.
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