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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A-Z Challenge - J is for : Jedburgh, Jethart Justice and Jathart Snails

Join me on this journey  into  A SENSE OF PLACE where I will be:

  • Featuring places connected with my own family history
  • Highlighting places with happy memories
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal
  • Linking my interests in history, travel and photography

J is for:

JEDBURGH  - The small historic burgh   (known locally as Jethart)  lies on the banks of the Jed Water, 10 miles north of the English-Scottish Borders.  It is most famous for its ruined 12th century Augustinian  Abbey, founded by King  David in 1138.  

I worked for five years in the local tourist information centre, where we got used to such quirky queries as " Was the Abbey bombed during the war?" and "When are they going to rebuild the Abbey."   A straight face was called for on occasions! 

The truth was the abbey was repeatedly attacked by English armies throughout the middle ages.  In the 1540's it suffered particularly at the hands of the Earl of Hertford's military campaign known as the "Rough Wooing" when Henry VIIII sought  to enforce a marriage between his son Edward and the young Mary,  Queen of Scots.   Mary was, instead, sent to France into the care of her mother's relations.  Scotland turned to    Presbyterianism with the Reformation, and the abbey, almost intact except for its roof, was used for services until the building of a new parish church in 1875.  

In 1566, Mary Queen of Scots  went to Jedburgh staying  in a bastel (fortified) house belonging to the local Kerr family.  Hearing that Lord Bothwell lay wounded at Hermitage Castle, Mary set out on an arduous return journey of 40 miles to visit him. She arrived back from a dreich moorland ride, ill and close to death and is later said to have remarked "Would that I had died in Jethart", as her troubles crowded upon her.

Jethart Justice - was the term given to the medieval practice of "hang first and try later". 
Jethart Snails are a delicacy of the town that can still be enjoyed.  During the Napoleonic Wars, Jedburgh housed French prisoners of war  who were said to have left a legacy in the form of their recipe for this  brown mint flavoured boiled sweet.   

Famous Borderers born in Jedburgh:  

David Brewster (1781-1868)  became  a leading physicist renowned for his work on optics and polarisation. Did you know he invented the children's toy - the kaleidoscope? .  

Mary Somerville, nee Fairfax (1780-1872)  was born in Jedburgh.    She became   a astronomer, mathematician and science writer  and a staunch supporter of education for women and the right to vote. She was the first woman to be accepted as a member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835.   Somerville College in Oxford University is named after her.  She died at the age of 92.

It helped to have a good knowledge of history and a liking for trivia facts  when working in a tourist information centre such as Jedburgh!

In my uniform of Douglas tartan kilt.

Join in the  next stage of my A-Z journey with K

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