Melrose Town House
Half-way up Abbey Street on the right is the former Melrose Town House dating from 1822. At roof level of the gable you can see a simple bell. On the front of the building is a memorial tablet, commemorating the fact that the Duke of Buccleuch gifted the Town House to Melrose in 1896. Above this is an armorial panel which probably belonged to Abbot William Turnbull, dating from the 16th century and taken from the Abbey. When it was carved, it was copied from the stamp used to seal the Abbot's documents and consequently its details appear reversed.
In 1813, the Burgh Council provided a new public well and in 1838 when a local water company was established, the people of Melrose were able to request a piped supply. The Burgh Council was late in introducing street lighting in comparison with other Border towns. It was not until 1836 that gas lighting was installed, fully 10 years after Hawick. Sewage removal was rudimentary in 19th century Melrose and there were several open sewers running through the town. Thankfully these have long gone!
Abbey Street was called "The Bow" until 1826, a name derived from the arched entrance gateway to the Abbey precinct which was located here.
At the end of the lane next to Melrose Town House is the site of a Parish School built about 1600. The first school had been located where the Station Hotel now stands, on the Dingleton Road. The Kirk made sure that theirs was the only school in "... Melrose, Daneiltone (Dingleton), Darnick and Newstead...under pain of ten marks". It was decided in 1724 to "...put in windows, timber and glass..." as part of a programme of repairs and it can only be imagined what a miserable time the pupils had before the windows were glazed, especially during winter. The building needed extensive repairs in 1763, so a decision was taken to move the school to a chapel in the south aisle of the Abbey. Continue up Abbey Street and into Market Square.
Next: The Market Square