Notes on the wells near the village. The Ninewells plane tree, the church and manse
There are three springs or wells of water, which have curiosity;one of them upon the S. extremity of the East Mains estate, has its issue in a bed of marl. Its taste, and ochre colour of its slime, prove it to be a pretty strong chalybeate,or mineral water; but being impregnated with marly particles, it is Glutinous upon the palate, and therefore not so light upon the stomach. It has been formerly, and is still resorted to, by some of the common people, affected with scorbutic eruptions; but with what benefit is not, to my knowledge, well ascertained.
Some old book is said to report its medicinial virtues and vogue. The other two springs that rise in the place called Spence’s Mains, a little west of the churchyard, deserve notice, not from any singular quality in either, but from the one being soft water, and the other hard, when their distance from each other in not above six or seven steps.
The Ninewells plane tree:
The old plane tree at Ninewells which in the grove a little E of the house, rears its straight stem, and lofty top, is an object that attracts the eye, to such a production in the vegetable system.
It measures, by the girth, 17 feet of solid wood, below the boughs; which although generally strong, and spreading, have at their top a fading, which marks their suffering by the endurance of the blasts of many winter, which cannot be reckoned fewer than 150 revolutions: For the oldest people of the last generation, when asked about its appearance, in their memory, said that they never remembered it but in full growth, and with some marks of its being at the age of declining.
Church, Manse, Stipend, School, Poor etc.
That the church may be two or three centuries old, appears from the architrave, or coarse fluting of the principal door, and also from a stone, of about a foot square, taken down at the rebuilding of the east aile,or old choir, having a few rude and faded characters upon it, which just legible, are these: Help the pvr (poor); and the figures 1573, joined with them. That the church might be older than this signature upon the choir aile,is not improbable, from the appearance its walls have of being much pieced up in the inward side. Its vaulted roof has been, many years since taken down, and converted into the present one of cupples, and blue slate, with ferking of deals. It was, probably, among the first in this country so covered; the advantage of which in point of interest as well as propriety, when compared with the continual repairs, of the thatched roofs, was long and late of being apprehended or admitted by many heritors. It is now in ordinary and tolerable condition, but has not yet received such decent reparations within as are exemplified in several neighbouring churches.
The manse, rebuilt in the year 1757, is well constructed in its walls and roof, but its dimensions are rather narrow for a large family. The office-houses have been, some years since also rebuilt. The glebe, consisting of 8 english acres and a rood (the station of houses being included), is fenced with hedge and ditch, and has a subdivision in the same fashion. The stipend amounts to nearly 39L in money, and 4 chalders of victual, three parts of which are oats, and a third beer.
The salary of the schoolmaster is 100 merks Scots, or which, is near the same, 1 month’s cess of the parish. His house is presently in good repair, and of such length, as affords a large school. To his salary are added the emoluments of session-clerk and precentor and that of an allowance for being collector and distributor of the assessments for the poor upon the parish roll. These are levied, not at fixed meetings of the heritors, but occasional ones.
The one half of the collections made in the church is regularly taken up by the collector, and go in aid of the assessment. The other remains with the session to be distributed in cases of casual distress, to indigent people not admitted upon the poor’s roll.
Ref: Extracts from the 1791-1799 Statistical Account of Scotland
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