The History of a House in Townend Kirkcudbright

31 St Mary's Place
31 St Mary’s Place

The 20016/17 programme for Kirkcudbright History Society finished with a talk by Vivien Dania on the history of 31 St Mary’s Place, Kirkcudbright. A borrowed book from the library gave Vivien the inspiration to research the development of the house and the people who had lived there. The title deeds showed the house had been built in the early 1850s but there are documents from 1808.

When Vivien and her husband, Carl, moved into the house in December 1996, they found a rotten skirting board and on trying to fix it, uncovered a fireplace thought to date around 1850. Four layers of wallpaper on the staircase were found one of which had been treated with a thin oil which enabled it to be wiped clean and was marketed at the time (around 1920’s) as ‘sanitary’.

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Chairman’s Report 2017

With attendance still encouragingly high for our monthly talks the Society remains in good fettle. I am most grateful to members for their continued support of the Society and especially to the committee team for their efforts in bringing the annual programme of lectures to fruition. Special thanks are due to our Secretary Marion Garroch for keeping the administrative wheels in motion. As intimated at last year’s AGM we have revamped the website www.kirkcudbrighthistorysociety.org.uk and I am very grateful to Helen Bowick for taking on the bulk of the work in updating and energizing the website. The site has a fresher look and is building up an impressive library of interesting articles and images and links to other local history sources. The club remains in a reasonably healthy financial position thanks to the diligence of Treasurer Donald Cowell and he will be outlining plans to ensure we remain viable in the future. Thanks to Ron McHugh for managing the audio system at all the meetings, a major benefit to our continually aging membership base. Thanks also to David Collin for producing the eye catching posters, David Devereux for running the magazine library and to both for their advice and guidance on all local history matters, and to Tania Gardener and Margaret Scott for providing refreshments and all-round assistance.

We have had a most enjoyable and informative series of lectures and I am very grateful to members of the committee who, as well as delivering the votes of thanks, have taken it in turn to write up reports on the talk for the Galloway News and the website. Thanks, are also due to Donald for lending us the use of his audio visual equipment for our speakers. We are still investigating the possibility of the Society purchasing its own equipment.

The Society is still involved with a project known as ‘Scotland’s Urban Past’ which is a five-year nationwide project about the history of Scotland’s towns and cities.   Kirkcudbright has been nominated as one of the participating towns. Groups and individuals will investigate how their urban environments have changed over time by capturing memories, surveying buildings, gathering information and exploring sources of local knowledge. Funding for projects is going to be available for the next five years.

Society members helped in the geophysical survey of Tongland Abbey carried out as part of Tongland and Ringford Community Council’s ‘Magna Carta 800’ project and subsequently carried out a series of trial excavations in the grounds of Mansewood with the aim of locating more of the Abbey’s buildings. The results of that work became the subject of one of our talks.

The Kirkyard Tours in the summer continued to attract visitors and locals alike. Based on the popularity of the tours we have decided to lay on the same number of evening and afternoon tours this coming year. Research by Donald Cowell, David Devereux and others continues to expand the information available about the kirkyard and enhance the visitor experience.

In previous years, some members of the History Society took part in The European Ethnology Research Project based at Edinburgh University. This involved making recordings of local people. These interviews were then transcribed and the results have been communicated back in a series of presentations by the research team during this past year. There is a link on our website to the project and you can click on the ‘spoken word’ tab to hear parts of the recordings.

I thank you again for your continued support and look forward to another informative and enjoyable session after the summer break.