THE STOW LODGE OF FREEMASONS
The village of Stow lies on the A7 a few miles north of
Galashiels Its seldom used full name is The Stow of
Wedale. Local folklore interprets "Wedale" as "Dale of
Woe", commemorating, it is said, a battle fought here by King Arthur.
Although little remains today, Our Lady's
Chapel is probably the oldest site associated with the Blessed
Virgin Mary, in Scotland.
The name Stow is thought to be from the Old English for "Place"
Place", and Wedale from the Old English "Wiche" meaning shrine
and "Dahl" meaning valley. So we have Valley of the Shrine.
The first written mention of Wedale comes in
the Historia Britonum" written by the Welsh monk Nemius in
According to Nemius, King Arthur had, in gratitude to Our Lady
for a vision in which she assured him of victory over the
invading Angles, caused an image of Our Lady to be brought from
Cappadocia and placed in "Our Lady's House at Wedale".
At the heart of Stow is its Town
Hall, built in 1855 on a grand scale suggesting the expansion
and importance of Stow at that era. Today it provides
accommodation for a wide range of community uses including the
Stow and Haughfoot Lodges.
This magnificent Hall was built by the Owner of the then vast
Stow Estates - Brother Captain Mitchell of Stow. After his death his
widow who inherited the Estate married the Chief of Clan MacKay - Lord Reay
- becoming Lady Reay of Stow. She was well known for her generosity. The Town
Hall remained in the ownership of Stow Estate until around 1940
when it was gifted to the Local Authority
Stow has been known as religious
centre for many centuries. A church was founded in here as
early as the 600s. The earliest you can see on the ground today is the Old Kirk,
built in the late 1400s on the site of the Church of St Mary, which was
consecrated on 3 November 1242 by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews. The Old
Kirk was in turn repaired and rebuilt in the 1700s and early 1800s, before being
abandoned in favour of a new church on a nearby site. It is now an attractive
and intriguing ruin.
In the south east corner of the Old Kirkyard you can
still see the remains of the Bishop's Palace, believed to have been an occasional
residence of the Bishop of St Andrews who owned considerable estates in the Borders.
St Mary of Wedale Church was built
in 1876 and has an impressive tower standing some 140ft tall.
The church clock has a particular reputation for accuracy and in
the days when Stow had a Railway Station on the Edinburgh Hawick Railway Line, train drivers would set their watches by it.
Opposite the church is the pack
horse bridge built to cross the Gala Water in 1655, using stone
from the choir of the Old Kirk which at the time was in ruins.
This was the first bridge over the Gala Water (until then
everyone used fords) and it linked Stow to the main route between Edinburgh and Gala which unlike the modern A7 followed the west bank of this
stretch of the river.
Well and Our Lady's Chapel were also just a short distance South
of Stow. Not much remains of the Chapel.
The well was rebuilt by Ralph
Parker a local "dry stone dyker" as part of the local
millennium project to celebrate the year 2000 and copies the
previous one which is thought to have been constructed around
All Meetings held in the Town Hall -
Earlston Road Stow