The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Northern England and Southern Scotland in 1841

Buccleugh Estate Cottages

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To show that the cottages on some part of the Duke of Buccleugh's estates require his interference, or did so in 1831, we refer the reader to a passage in our eighth Volume; but, as this volume is now out of print, we shall quote it in a note ("We are persuaded that many absentee landlords are ignorant of the sort of cottages which already exist, and still continue to be erected, on their estates. It is difficult for us to persuade ourselves that the wives, who are perhaps mothers, of these men of wealth are aware of the large families that are born and live together in one square room, open to the roof, with no division but that formed by wooden bedsteads, and with no floor but the earth. We cannot believe, for example, that the Duchess of Buccleugh, whom we know to be highly cultivated, and who has the reputation of being kind-hearted and charitable, ever entered any one of the fourteen cottages lately erected on one of her husband's estates, not far from his magnificent palace of Drumlanrig, in Dumfriesshire. On crossing the country from Jardine Hall to Closeburn, Aug. 9. 1831, we passed the farm of Cumroo. The farm-house and farmery are ample and most substantial-looking buildings. The dwelling-house is more than usually large, with two rooms in its width; a part of its exterior wall is covered with large well-trained fruit trees; and there is an excellent kitchen-garden, well stocked, and apparently in good order, in which a professed gardener (judging from his blue apron) was at work; so that the whole, had it not been for the farmyard behind, might very easily have been taken for a mansion residence. Passing this house, and advancing about a furlong, we came to a row of fourteen cottages occupied by yearly servants of the farmer and occupant of the large house, who, we were told, came from the best cultivated district in Scotland, East Lothian. Observing that to every door in the row of cottages there was but one window, we entered one of them, and found a woman sitting at a table, writing a letter (which seemed in a very good hand for a person in her rank of life), while she rocked the cradle with her foot. The room, which comprised the whole cottage, was about 14 ft. square, without a ceiling, and open to the roof; the floor was of earth, and the walls were left rough, just as the stones were put together in building, but whitewashed; there was a fire-place, but only one fixed window of four small panes. In this room there were two box beds, placed end to end, and behind them a space of about 2 ft. in width for fuel and lumber. The furniture and utensils, though scanty, were clean and neat; more especially when contrasted with the floor, which, underneath the beds, was of earth, qufte loose; though, near the fire, were laid some flat stones, which the woman said her husband had picked up and put down himself. The cottage window, as already observed, was fixed, and incapable of opening to give air. There was no back door, and no opening either in the roof or walls for ventilation, except the entrance door and the chimney. There was no appendage, or garden ground of any sort, behind these cottages; but, across the road, in front of them was a narrow strip of ground, divided so as to allow one fall (36 yds. square) to each cottage. In these gardens there was no structure of any kind.").