High Cross Church
A short distance along High Cross Avenue is High Cross Church, designed by the architectural firm of Peddie and Kinnear in 1866. The gable of the church is very broad and is Romanesque in style. There is a large circular stained glass window in the centre of the gable, which is mirrored in the other gable. The large tower with its octagonal spire (which was added in 1892) has elements of Scots Baronial architecture.
The church was built for the United Presbyterian church but is now a Roman Catholic church after being sold by the congregation in 1984. Almost opposite is the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church which was designed in the mid 1840s by the famous architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed Liverpool Cathedral. The building was increased in size in 1900 by the addition of the transepts and a chancel. Next door is Holy Trinity Rectory, which was completed in 1848 on a site that slopes towards Waverley Road. Notice the steeply pitched roofs and original octagonal chimney pots. A further 250 metres along this road is the site of the 'High Cross' where pilgrims coming from the west caught their first sight of the Abbey.
Return to the junction of High Cross Avenue and Waverley Road then turn left. Beside the Rectory is Old Abbey School. Built at the same time as the Rectory, this single storey building was once a school although it was converted into a house some time ago. Continue along the road towards the edge of the town.
On your right, set back from the road, is the imposing manse of Melrose Parish Church, which is painted a cream colour. This was built in 1901 in the Scots Baronial style. The architect, Andrew Haiton, gave the building a contemporary feel by using arts and craft details in red sandstone, which is typical of the period.
The large area of open ground on your left provides grazing for horses and practice pitches for Melrose Rugby Football Club. This area of the town is known as Bleachfield and was formerly associated with the local linen industry. During the heyday of 'Melroseland linen', the Bleachfield was where cloth was laid out and bleached clean with by sun. It was established in 1748 by the local minister, James Brown, who did a great deal to encourage the industry. This was a profitable time for the town and the output was in excess of 33,000 yards by 1755. The traditional linen market was in Priorwood, to the east of Market Square. The weavers operated manual looms but, with the growth of mechanised woollen mills in Galashiels and their greater output and higher wages for the workers, the industry faded away rapidly in Melrose. To compound the linen manufacturers' problems, the price of Dutch flax rose to a level the weavers could not afford. After the decline of the linen industry, the weavers converted to manufacturing cotton and the Bleachfield continued in use.
transepts - transverse portion of a cross shaped church
chancel - part of church containing alter
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