Maxton Church January 1996
The Village of Maxton lies on the A699, 1½ miles to the east of St Boswells and 8½ miles to the west of Kelso.
The Village along with 241 others was destroyed during the Hertford purge of 1545. It soon recovered, and was made a Burgh of Barony in 1587, by Ker of Littledean, the major landowner of the time. At one time, it was reputed to have had sufficient houses to have contained 4000 or 5000 inhabitants, and to have been able to furnish 1000 men in times of war.
A Maxton Church has probably existed on the present site for almost 1000 years. It is recorded that the church, dedicated to St Cuthbert, was gifted by the Bishop of Glasgow to Dryburgh Abbey in 1326. The present building, almost completely rebuilt in 1812 and altered in 1866, when a North Aisle was added, contains, at the west end, parts of an earlier building. It is a Historic Building List B with seating for 140. United with Mertoun and linked with St Boswells, services take place in the Maxton building fortnightly - on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Services on the first, third are in Mertoun Church. The fifth Sunday has a United service in one of the churches in the charge.
The War Memorial to those of the Parish who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War 1, is within the church. There is also a framed scroll in the Village Hall recording all those from the Parish who went to the First World War.
People of Note Associated with the Village and the Parish
Adam de Macston, 17th Abbot of Melrose.
Gabriel Wilson, Minister and supporter of the Bostonites.
Dr Andrew Wilson, son of Gabriel, Physician and philosopher.
John Davidson, the Maxton poet.
John Thomson Jnr, newspaper reporter and agriculturalist.
June Swan, shop owner and curler.
Roy Denoon, civil engineer and cyclist.
Bob Grieve, builder and rugby internationalist.
Jake Harvey, sculptor and angler.
Duns Scotus, theologian and philosopher
Right Rev Henry Grey Graham, a Church of Scotland Minister and a Catholic Bishop
The Village Hall which was opened in 1909 as a Library and Reading Room, was built with money gifted by Andrew Carnegie. Newly refurbished for the Millennium, it is managed by a sub-committee of Maxton 21 and it is available for hire by the public.
Maxton Cross and the Smiddy c.1930
Maxton Cross, just off the main street, lies in front of what was the smiddy, on what remains of the village green. Parts of the cross are probably original 13th century, but the main part was replaced in 1881 by Sir William Ramsay Fairfax, Bart.
The Smiddy has probably been in existence for centuries as it is in what was the focus of the village - the Green. The Village Green was unusual as it was triangular. For much of the last one hundred years of its active life, the smiddy was run by the Fairbairn family. Latterly it was an offshoot of the St Boswells smiddy run by the Lawrie family. Today, it continues its use as a centre for metal working, but is now the workshop and studio of Professor Jake Harvey RSA, the sculptor of international renown and Head of Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art.
In front of the Smiddy is what was during the 19th century the Toll House. Built in 1794, it continued in use during the lifetime of toll roads. Thereafter, in 1883, it became the village Post Office. In 1905 the house, shop and Post Office was taken over by the Durie family who ran it until 1969 when it closed.
One couple, John and Jessie Davidson were keepers of the Toll House in the early 1860's. After about five years in Maxton, they moved to St Boswells where in 1869 Jessie's body was found in the well in their garden. Her husband was charged with her murder, but, after trial at Jedburgh, he was found 'not guilty' and acquitted. He died only six years later.
The Post Office and East End Cottages c.1930
Next to the Toll House, in what is now called No1 East End Cottages, the Parish School was held - in the room now used as the living room. The school, with its 'yeard' is clearly shown on a map of 1789. A new school was built more centrally in the Parish, at Broomhouse, in 1820. This school continued in use until 1944, having had only three 'headmasters' during its lifetime. There was also, at Rutherford Mains, in 1851, an 'infants classes school', and, in 1866, a 'female industrial school', both run by Agnes Brotherston. Today, children of primary school age attend St Boswells Primary School, while children of secondary school age go to Kelso High School.
The Old Manse was at the top end of the Glebe at the other side of the Toll House from the school, in what is now the Village Hall car park. A new Manse was built beside the Church in 1806 for the princely sum of £787 12s 7d including the offices and the wall! This continued in use until 1958, when with adjustments and linkages, a new manse was built at Clintmains, and the Maxton manse was sold. It is now known as 'Glebe House'.
The firm of R&J Grieve was for almost 100 years synonymous with the best quality building in the area. Most of the village houses were built or rebuilt by the firm and its stonemasons. St Boswells Village Hall and the former Newtown St Boswells Secondary School are examples of their larger scale works, as is 'Oakendene' in Melrose. The firm left the village not long after the completion of the houses in Grantsfield. The yard and buildings were at the east end of the village. 'Rosedean' now stands in part of the old yard.
Still visible at East End is the frontage of the other village shop. Next to it was one of the two inns which the village had in the 19th century.
The Telephone Exchange was for many years in the room at the back of what is now called Castle Heather Cottage.
Nearby is a last representative of the village wells and pumps.
Many rebuildings of the Main Street have taken place over the years. Originally East End Cottages were the workers' houses for the farm. The farm at West End would have the workers living alongside, too. In between were houses which were used by the other residents of the village such as the joiner, retired foresters etc. During the days when the railways were at their peak, many of the houses were occupied by the workers who maintained the line, as were cottages throughout the parish. An engine driver lived in a cottage at Muirhouselaw!
Maxton, looking West, c.1900
The name Main Street is still in use, but the name Back Row has become redundant. It only applied to the three houses which had no access to the front onto Main Street.
On the west gable wall of Cleveland Cottage, formerly No 5 East End Cottages is carved the builder's mark 'WM 1708 BK'. This would be the original builder of the single storey row of hinds' cottages. The second storey was added just before World War Two.
Car parks are to be found in front of the children's play park next to the Village Hall, and at the foot of the church road. The telephone box and post box are in the main street.
The Village, like Gavinton in Berwickshire, is one after whom the Royal Navy named a 'Ton Class' ship. HMS MAXTON, a Coniston class coastal minesweeper, was launched on May 24th 1956. She was built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast. After service around the world, she was broken up in 1989. The crew visited Maxton on June 5th 1966.
During the Millennium celebrations the Village was visited by a group of 'Maxton Old Hands' who attended the opening of the Maxton Old & New Exhibition, in the Hall, to complete our affiliation with the Ton Class Association. Dover District Council in Kent, home of an area called Maxton, presented our Parish with a framed photograph of HMS MAXTON at the same ceremony. The Affiliation Certificate and the framed photograph are in the Village Hall, along with the ship's crest which was presented in 1966.
Sporting facilities in the area include golf courses at St Boswells, Lilliardsedge, Melrose, Kelso and Galashiels, swimming baths at Kelso, Galashiels and Jedburgh, and fishing permits are available, in season, for trout fishing on the Tweed.
St. Boswells Tennis Club has three floodlit, all-weather courts.
Maxton, today, has little industry, but is a quiet, peaceful little village where community matters.