Gorton House - History all around
We went looking for Wallace’s cave but the slope down to the river proved too much for us. On the way back we encountered a Mr Quintin Young of Gorton House who showed us the best of civility.
Gorton House where he resides is placed ideally on the brow of Hawthornden Valley that slopes towards a range of trees inhabiting the Esk river bed.
Over the valley the panicle of Roslyn Chapel with its mysteries rises above the tree line. The much loved Pentland hills smooth and majestic linked to the horizon catch the eye. The house has that old look and sets the mind wondering through history.
It supplies some of the answer with a date of 1701 above the upper window and inscribed W.P. And M.R, apparently for William Preston and Mary Ramsey. It is only part of the remedy as the house is built on an older and larger deportment.
Winding down thought fields a path leads on twisting and falling to the Caves where William Wallace and his five companions hid from the English soldiers for five days without food.
Alexander Ramsey and his friends in 1388 also concealed themselves in these caves in the same year as a battle won by a dead man. We felt we were being watched!
William de Preston was summoned to Northampton Castle by King Edward I to assist in the competition between Balliol and Robert de Bruce for the Scottish Crown.
After the battle of Durham in 1346 Sir John de Preston was taken prisoner along with King David II, he had gained from him the Charter for the Barony of Gorton that included Priest’s town from which the name Preston is derived. Sir Johns son Simon added the land of Craigmillar to his estates. On this soil the Preston Family made their home for three hundred years.
On the walls of Craigmillar Castle you can see the coat of arms of the Preston Family. And the initials S.P. representing Simon Preston a friend of Mary Queen of Scots. The Coat of Arms is a shield bearing the head of three unicorns which can also be seen in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
Sir William Preston in 1454 delivered the Arm-Bone of St Giles to the Cathedral unconditionally.
The annals of the time say “ that William Preston, the father, whom God assails, made diligent labour, by a high and might prince, The King of France, Charles VII and many other Lords of France, for getting the arm bone of St Giles, the bone he freely left to our mother Kirk of St Giles.
St Giles was a seventeenth century hermit who lived in France and due to historic ties became the Patron of the church and town of Edinburgh. The arm of St Giles disappeared during the reformation never to be recovered. While Craigmillar passed from their control in 1661, Gorton house remained theirs till the end of the eighteenth century. Thereafter, the Preston’s of Gorton merged with the Valleyfield Preston’s.
The area has been the dwelling place of many a famous person, such as Sir Walter Scott who began his career as a writer in his romantic cottage, it was said that Jane Austen’s star burned not half so bright as that of Sir Walter Scott.
James Hepburn Earl of Bothwell one of the most powerful men in Scotland who became Mary Queen of Scots third husband. A man of good education and an adventurer. After the capture of Mary he travelled to Scandinavia in the hope of raising an army to put Mary back on the throne, but was imprisoned in a Castle in Denmark, where he was kept in appalling conditions and eventually died, insane. His mummified body can be seen in a church near by.
Christopher North whose real name was John Wilson a Slashing Reviewer and Essayist of renown 1785- 1854. He had long flowing blond hair and known for his significant athletic powers.
North was author of the poems The City of the Plague and Magic Mirror. He also wrote the story the Trails of Margaret Lyndsay a popular fiction of the time.
The lovely views and walks would challenge an artist. Those who like to climb steep banks and meander by sweet rivers will find an appropriate satisfaction. Hill walkers can roam the Pentland Hills a favourite of Scotland’s finest talents. Hawthornden near the main house is one of the places that conjures up pictures of School history in a real surround, one that opens the mind to the continuity of time and people.
With the Scottish kindness shown on our visits we would call the owner of such a property a Baron.
Gorton House and Cottages (above) are now a pleasant place for a self-catering holiday. At present so popular for those who wish to get away from the dim and pressures of town or city.
Most of this information was supplied by Gorton House.
Bright and Early by J.B. Cairns.
Mary Queen of Scots and the Scottish Reformation by W.K. Ritchie.
http://www.lordbothwell.co.uk/roslinglen.html has a picture of the cave used by William Wallace