Kelso Abbey, Rennie's Bridge and Beyond
As you head out along Bridge Street, the Bridge itself is not in view. On the right, at 3 Bridge Street, Cobblers of Melrose, you are at the corner of Havannah Court, at the back of which were the stables for Ednam House. Havannah Court is named after Havannah House, the earlier name for Ednam House, home of James Dickson, who had made much of his wealth as a naval agent during the British campaign at Havannah in Cuba.
At 5-7 Bridge Street, in what are now the premises of Glendale Paints and Attitude, there was formerly another fine Georgian house, built for the Ormistons of Hendersyde. Ormiston was a Quaker merchant and banker during the 17th century. From the 1930's until the early 1970's it was 'Stempels' tearoom and coffee house where many of the men and ladies of the town met their friends for morning coffee and afternoon tea.
In 9-11 Bridge Street, now Swans shoeshop, there used to be the premises of William Muir, a coppersmith, into whose house was fitted the first practical gas lighting system in Scotland. Invented by William Murdock, this innovation was soon in houses all over the country.
Next door, are the gates to Ednam House.
Ednam House was built for Dickson in 1760, having been designed by James Nisbet, a local architect. Previously on the site was the Chatto Lodging House, in which, reputedly, Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed in November 1745, before Culloden.
Bought by the Brooks family in 1928, the Hotel is still in the family, who have retained many of the original features, including Dickson's crest above the main door, and his portrait inside. With its lawns which sweep down to the riverside, it is in an exquisite spot.
Beyond the Ednam House gates, is a row of shops which are on what used to be the site of the Weigh House, where carts and their loads were weighed. Later converted to a public house, named the Weigh-House Inn, it is now 'The Cloisters'.
Facing you, at the corner of Abbey Court is Abbey House. Abbey Court led to the old Kelso Bridge which was destroyed, to be replaced by Rennie's Bridge. On the left of Abbey Court is Turret House, one of the few really old houses left in the town. Built in 1678, for James Palmer, who was a boatman, it remained as a house, albeit with different families on the various floors, and fairly recently with a sweet shop at street level. The premises were bought by the National Trust in 1964, and were used to house the Kelso Museum, during its all too brief existence from 1985 till 1998.
To the right are the ornate wrought iron gates which were once guarding the main entrance to Ednam House.
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