Lodge St John Stow No 216  


No 216

The Stow Lodge St John

(chartered 8th December 1806)





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" or "Holy 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 AD826. 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.

Our Lady's Well - Stow

Our Lady's 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 1863.

All Meetings held in the Town Hall - Earlston Road Stow


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