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The late Rev. W. Douglas Chisholm was the minister of Monikie Parish for many years until 1983 and wrote regular articles with the above heading which were published in the Church Magazine.  He was well known for the vast amount of research he carried out regarding the parish and it could be said that this culminated in the publication of his book, 'The Monikie Story', copies of which can be ordered online.

The following articles are a selection of those appearing over the years and will hopefully add to the reader's interest in the Monikie Parish.

Generally, the text has been reprinted much as in the original, but a few additions (coloured) are given in order to assist the reader who may not be fully acquaint with the geography and other matters of the area, or which may have changed since the original years of publication.

Although these articles contain some links to other parts of this site, you are recommended to use our Website Search Engine provided to discover other items on this site relating to most of these articles.

W.D.C. outside Hillock Church (now closed) in Drumsturdy Road.

It is important to bear in mind that the following articles
were originally written between 1972 and 1983.

More "Down the Ages articles"

During his time as minister of Monikie Parish Rev. Chisholm also arranged with local proprietors that he could conduct small parties of parishioners around various local points of interest, and these were well attended.


(Nowadays listed as the B961 between Baldovie and Newbigging Tolls)

The heyday of the Coach on the Edinburgh-Aberdeen road that runs through the Parish was around 1800.  To trace its course, go to what was the Stage Coach Inn at Baldovie Toll, the house to which David Ramsay brought his bride, Mary Anderson in 1865, the grandparents of the present owner.  You’ll see the long window through which the innkeeper watched for the horses and coaches coming up from Claypotts and the Tay Ferry.  Until 1920, opposite the Inn there stood the round tollhouse.  From there, the road went along the Lammerton, up Mushroom Hill to the two thatched cottages, Mushroom Cottages that stood until 1912 (now East Pitkerro modernised Cottages).  On the road went to the busy Cotton Hamlet - still one house left - down Drumsturdy Road with its cottages to Newbigging Toll where payment had again to be made, but refreshment could be got at Forbes’ Inn to the north of the road - outside steps?   A muddy, often flooded bit at the Downiemill hollow, led on eastwards to Downieken and Old Downie.  The white gate at the present road end on the Marches (road) marks the line of the road as it continued eastwards through the plantation to Muirdrum.  In 1798, Dr. Maule wrote of it “in bad weather, almost impossible; not in the best condition”. 

Built in 1562, Baldovie Stage Coach Inn must have seen many travellers and heard many tales.  From 1669, the letter carriers between Edinburgh and Aberdeen were often accused of theft.  Letters cost 2 shillings Scots for each sheet, payable by the recipient.  These men went by foot, once a week along our road; only in 1760 were horses given to the postboys - thrice-weekly journeys.  Complaints were constantly made of delays not only at the Ferries, but at Edinburgh where the London mail was not sent off at once.  In 1762, Dundee merchants spoke of “lame horses that scarcely go at a trot”.  By 1798 mail coaches supplied by Vidler, London were in use: 4 minutes allowed to change 4 horses; 3 passengers inside; 14 hours Edinburgh to Aberdeen; the guard had the sealed clock and was armed for fear of French soldiers.  Around 1800 things could not have been easy for the innkeeper, for the Napoleonic wars were on.  Horses were dearer, for good horses were needed for the cavalry; corn and hay prices rocketed (his stables are still there).  Letters and papers from London increased.  The single copy of the newspaper with the latest war news was eagerly read at the Inn as soon as it was left by the Post, while horses were changed.  (It is still, Dundee’s, Sunday Post).  But on our road surely no more colourful coaches have ever been seen than those of Captain Barclay of Ury in Kincardine around 1830.  With 15 passengers, the “coaches were luxurious and handsome, the horses beautifully matched and of the first character, harness in good taste.  The drivers and guards in their uniforms of red coats and yellow collars were steady, respectable men, great favourites on the road, obliging, full or conversation and local knowledge.  Several played with no mean talent on the bugle and cornet”. 

The like was not to be seen again at Baldovie Stage Coach Inn.  Soon, the railways were to take over the London-Edinburgh-Aberdeen run.  Anyway, David Ramsay was not there as innkeeper, but as tailor, busy in that workshop of his that you can still see.

WDC - c.1976

(Photographs of this area and of Newbigging.)




Today very properly we take a global view of things; Christian Aid is one way of helping the poor and needy in all parts of the World, but 200 years ago, poverty and hunger were harsh realities right here in our Parish.  Thus it came about that Rev. William Maule of Monikie called a meeting in 1801 to “Consider the plight of the poor and to consider how grain is to be obtained”.  It was held in the house of David Forbes, Innkeeper at the Temple-Forbes Inn where the turnpike travellers were refreshed and where ale was sold; locally called a “ cheapa house” which, although a term not in the National Scottish Dictionary, would suggest buying, bartering like “chapman”.  It was most probably in the field between Templelands and Templehall where there is a well and some stones, not too far from Newbigging Toll.

Present at the meeting were R. Kerr, farmer, Denfind; George Johnston, farmer, Graystone - on the other side of Toll, alas demolished for roadworks - Ardestie Crossroads used to be called the Graystone Toll; James Webster, Downieken; Alexander Gray, Balhungie; T. Kerr, Hillhead; and -- Bathie, Mill of Smithfield.  It was agreed to take something from the Poor Fund and to ask for subscriptions.  Amongst those who gave were John Smith, Dodd - still Smiths there; Peter Gilruth, tenant, Affleck; David Smith, Denside; George Adamson, tenant, Carlungie; Mary Low, Lochwyllie - between Braedownie and Mains of Panmure, now away; George Patullo, tenant, East Downie - probably old name old Mains of Panmure; Robert Stiven, tenant, Fallaws; James Webster, Downieken; James Anderson, New Downie.  In all £22.0s.0d. was raised, a fine effort in those days.  Give thanks to God that poverty does not stalk our Parish as it did then; give thanks for modern agriculture and food production, but remember those not so fortunate in other lands.

Alas, a century later, there was nothing left of kindly David Forbes’ Inn.  In 1901, when David Gray, the wright who specialised in carts and wheels, walked 144 feet from his pigsty at Templehall - a small building, now demolished, that abutted into a field - he would be able to see just a few stones beside his well.  That well is still there.  When Peter Smith, the joiner, took over Templehall in 1928 - his widow is still there - David Gray moved down the hill a few yards and took up residence in the red-tiled house in the hollow.  It too fell into disrepair and after being occupied from time to time by tinkers, was eventually taken down too.

Now, nothing remains of Forbes Inn but the well, still running, and the memory of charitable Parishioners whose aim was to help those in need.  Their good works follow them and our Father in Heaven is glorified.

WDC - 1976

(Photographs of this area and of Newbigging.)




“The waters of this district are quite incapable of supplying the town without the aid of very extensive reservoirs.  I cannot see any situated where such could be constructed almost at any expense”.  So wrote George Buchanan, water consultant in April 1836 about Monikie.  The need for a proper water supply to Dundee was urgent.  The "Dundee Courier” newspaper of August 1828 has a sorry description of poor mothers carrying infants in rags to draw water at the common wells, “water not fit for a cow to drink!”  Objections to a public water supply grew.  The Trades Guildry and the Nine Trades argued that water should be a “vendible” article, to be bought and sold.  The water caddies feared they would lose their livelihood.  The local millers had doubts to.  In the summer, the corn miller at the Mill near to the Kirk on the Monikie Burn had only one hour’s water out of 24.  The saw-mill at Guildy Den, the spinning mill of Batties’s Den and even Craigmill were affected - Why should they lose their water to Dundee?  On 9th May 1836, in the House of Commons, the Dundee Water Case was heard, the decision being against taking water from Monikie, but soon afterward (22nd October 1836), a Mr. Baxter organised another survey, which was agreed to by the Harbour Trustees by the narrow majority or one.  More opposition arose.  

It was only on 21st July 1845 that the Dundee Water Act was passed by Parliament.  This act made it lawful for the Company to direct or alter the course of, or to take water from, the Monikie Burn, Clearie Burn, Crombie Burn, Hynd Castle Water and the famous King’s Well.  There was a £5.0s.0d. penalty for fouling the reservoir, for causing any dog or animal to go into the waters; throwing any gravel, stone, filth or other offensive thing, washing or cleaning any wool, leather, cloth, skin or wearing apparel [where was the local bleachfield?]; causing filthy water to run into any of the water”.  Construction of the reservoir soon began.  In Skichen House, the home of George Baxter, Water Engineer 1891-1922 [followed by his son 1922-38, still the family is well represented in the Parish] there hung a picture painted before 1845, taken from Denfind and looking up over clear ground to where the Mill is now, and to West Hillhead, a scene you cannot see today.  

In February 1849, the Water Company advertised “a plentiful supply of excellent soft water well adapted for all domestic and other purposes.  The economy in using soft water for tea and in washing is known to be very great, equal to a saying of 20% in tea [a luxury then] and soap.  The convenience and comfort as well as the saving of time and labour to servants of having an abundant supply of water brought to the homes without the necessity of force pumps or of having resource to the public wells can scarcely be overstated.”  But George Baxter told the British Association in 1912 that “the water supply by the Company was far from satisfactory; the service mains were inadequate and practically no use whatever for fire purposes.”  Accordingly, extensions, improvements and changes were made by successive Acts:  the present road from Monikie to Craigton was made; the Company was taken over by the Town Council in 1869; and in 1866 Crombie Reservoir and works was authorised, the work of building it being completed in 1868 by the men who went on to building the railway nearby - but Crombie is another story and must wait.

In 'Beautiful Monikie', McGonagall describes in his inimitable way
“the pond of Monikie
     Which supplies the people with water belonging Dundee.”

WDC - c.1977

(The reservoirs at Monikie and Crombie, together with substantial parklands, now constitute two local Country Parks operated by Angus Council.)




The children gathered in the small playground; the boys playing on one side, the girls on the other.  It was a lovely sunny day and they were all happy and bright; soon they would be called in, have tooth brush drill, and then standing to attention, repeat the Lord’s Prayer before lessons commenced.

Today was Thursday, the girls looked at their frocks to see if they were tidy, the boys made sure their hands were clean for every Thursday, after the midday break, they would be asked into the Schoolhouse.  Miss Helen Petrie, their teacher, lived therewith her sister, Miss Bella Petrie.  How scrumptious the home baking was, despite the Great War, and the tablet and when in season, the apples.  The girls were taught to knit socks, which were sent by Miss Petrie to soldiers and sailors.  One little girl received a poem with a thank-you letter:-

"Next time I come to the shores of bonnie Dundee
   The little girl I would like to see
  Who knitted the handsome socks for me,
       and sent them over the sea."

The Children loved these teas and their school.

How musical and rhythmic was the name list of the farms and cottages from which they came, conjuring up in the old Scots tongue rich pictures of a bygone age.  Listen to them and see them.

̀ The Dodd - bare round hill on whose stones the ponies jolted;

̀ Chirmhill, now West Bankhead, - the hill with the early shoots of grass or maybe   where the birds make low moaning before a storm;

̀ from Mid Bankhead - Willie Bruce at 6 a.m. wakened everyone as he took his float and pony collecting milk for delivery in Dundee;

̀ Ferniefaulds - the distant sheepfold, it was at Ferniefaulds that Mrs. Katie Smith, in that war period (her sister, Helen Bell was a teacher at Bankhead before Miss Petrie) was giving tea one Tuesday to a drover from market - she left him a moment and when she came back, he was gone, out through the front door taking her purse with him.  Her husband chased towards Luckyslap and got the purse back;

̀ Luckyslap - the narrow gap between the hills, i.e. Bankhead/Carrot and Newlandhead/Hillhead, where the old midwife, the lucky lived.  Penny readings used to be held in the house that stood once near the present petrol pumps.  A ventriloquist came to entertain.  A mischievous lad climbed up into the loft before the performance.  Unaware of this, the man began “Who is there?”  The voice from the loft answered and the man packed up and left in a rage;

̀ Husbandtown - the dwellings of those who cared for the land;

̀ Bankhead - the place in a peat bog;

̀ Greenford - where people coming off the Kirk Road at Newlandhead could easily cross the marshy, badly drained above which stood Waterhead;

̀ Bractullo - the hillock with strips of untilled land between two cultivated fields, or perhaps the hillock on which sheep had suffered from the braxie;

̀ and Downiebank and Downiemuir - we find the oldest name in the Parish, . .

. . what a lot of meaningful names.

In November 1918, one boy remembers seeing soldiers marching with full kit from Inverarity to Barry Camp.  Alas, the School closed around 1920.  Later, there was a little shop and the post-woman left every day for her rounds.

In School these children liked so much was quite old, perhaps originally with a connection with the Fotheringham (Fothringham?) family, but maintained by the heritors of Monikie Kirk.  It was there before 1784 because on 12th December of that year, the young minister, William Maule, met there with his elders to inspect the school and schoolhouse.  A lot of repairs were needed.  In March 1794, the Session paid three pence for the repairing of the school seats.  Maybe the boys had been extra wild.  George Henry, the teacher, was given £1.0s.0d. in 1794 as payment and again on 5th January 1798.  After a bad winter, the roof was re-thatched at a cost of three shillings - who was the thatcher? - did he cut his materials locally?  The rooms must have been cosier and drier after that.  Thomas Meek was the next teacher.  On 5th September 1802, he was given one shilling.  Was it for writing slates for the pupils?  He received £1.0s.0d. in 1804 and also in 1805.  John Dargie arrived and for the long period of 52 years taught until he died aged 77 on 12th May 1856.  His tombstone tells us that he and his wife had their full share of sorrows.  They lost four children in infancy and a fifth, little Ann, only nine years old - what happened?  Was it under-nourishment - was the house unhealthy and damp, or was it something like tuberculosis? - a sad tale.

Greedily eating Miss Petrie’s scones on a sunny Thursday afternoon, however, the boys and girls of the Great War years were happy and cheery.  They could not see into the future, of course.  Just as well, for to-day the chestnut tree, under which they vied with each other at conkers, looks down on a building that is fast becoming a desolate ruin.  But every Thursday afternoon, yes, can you imagine them there still..?

WDC - Circa. 1978




I wonder if we fully appreciate the medical knowledge and service of today.  We would do well to give thanks for our Public Health Department, our hospitals and our National Health Service.  This was brought home to me when I was examining the Burial Register for the Parish for the years 1841 - 1854, written in copperplate by William Alexander whose own grave you can see in the churchyard.  At a time of high child mortality, 1848 stands out for it was the year of the worst ever scarlet fever epidemic, which was to claim no less than 21 young lives in ten months.

The Mill family in Newbigging was the first to be struck.  The last fatal case had been that of Elizabeth Miller, aged 5, of Pitairlie in 1841.  On 11th July, 1848, Margaret Mill, 14, was buried.  A fortnight later, her brother, William, 4, died of it.  It then appeared at New Downie where James Stormonth, 2, died of it in the first week of August.  The terrible germ got to the Craigton, a populous village at that time, where lived a family also named Mill, no doubt related to the Newbigging Mills.  At the Craigton, Mary Ann Carrie, 6, was the first victim and was buried on 12th August, to be followed by Margaret Mill, 7, on 15th August.  Three days later, her mourning father was again at the Churchyard to bury his 3-year old David.  Mary Crawford, 9, was buried on the 17th and her sister, Ann, 7, on the 29th, all these children being from the Craigton.  On the same day, the Rev. J. McKie took the funeral of yet another child victim, Margaret Ellis, 8, of Pitairlie.  On 22nd August, Charles Stewart, 6, of Guildy was buried.  The Scotts of the Kirkton were the next family to lose more than one child, David, 2½, being buried on 15th September, and his sister, Margaret, 4, on 7th October.  At the same time, the Smiths of the Craigton lost Ann, 10, and Mary, aged 8.  At the end of October, May Scott, 7, of Downiemuir, maybe a relation of the Kirkton Scotts, was buried, and then Margaret Scott, 2½, of Carlungie, again possibly a relation, was taken.  On 16th December, Susan Wallace, 16, of Backmuir was buried.  Alas, the germ had not yet finished.  Down from Fallaws came two neighbours, each with a dead child.  In January’s blast, James Steele brought his lifeless 5-year old George to the Churchyard and in February’s cold, Andrew Fairlie brought his baby.  Next day, the Minister took the funeral of yet another victim, Elizabeth Myles, 10, of the Craigton.  In May 1849, the last of these pathetic funerals took place, that of Margaret Strachan, 5 years old.

The scourge of scarlet fever was not to strike again fatally in the Parish until 1853, but what a sad and pitiful tale.  Isn’t it a mercy that this does not happen in our country today?

WDC - 1980

(There are records from the Old Parochial Records and Memorial Inscriptions from Monikie Kirkyard available on this website - please use the Search Engine.)




At 10.50 p.m. on Saturday 20th February 1897a special train left Dundee East Station for Monikie, filled with people who had been at the two-day bazaar in Kinnaird Hall, Bank Street, Dundee, in aid of the Craigton Free Church.  Support came from all the Free Churches in the area and as far afield as Glasgow.  It was a big exercise in publicity on the part of the Free Church, anxious to maintain its evangelical witness and its policy of dis-establishment in the face of the Church of Scotland.  The Hon. Charles Ramsay of Brechin Castle opened it, surrounded by ten Free Church ministers, including Rev. R. Scrimgeor of the Craigton.  Each stall, Congregational, Manse, Dundee, country, etc., had its own colours - crimson, red, blue, etc.  Two sheep, a harvester, and a tweed suit were among the articles auctioned.  On both days, treasurer John Nairn, of Lismore, Monikie, received takings at 5 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., the first day’s being £384.0s.0d.  It was to pay for a new floor in the Church, seating, pulpit with cushions, and two oil-lamps and the installation of water heating.  It marked the jubilee of Craigton Church.

The members who left the Monikie Parish Church with their minister, Rev. James Miller, in 1843 to form the Free Church did not have a Church building and used a granary.  In 1849 a successor was inducted to the ageing Mr. Miller.  The 54 years ministry of Rev. Malcolm McIntyre is recorded on the Memorial Tablet now in Monikie Kirk.  Having married his senior minister’s daughter, he got the Church and Manse built on ground given by the Earl of Dalhousie in 1854.

In 1898 the next minister, Rev. Alexander R. Gordon began to preach from the new pulpit.  It is fine to think that this undemanding sphere gave this scholar such time for study that in 1917 he received his Doctorate from Aberdeen University before leaving, first for the Chair of Old Testament in Montreal, and then to the Hebrew Chair in McGill University.  Miss Gordon still lives in Aberdeen.

Rev. John A. Fleming served until 1912 and later was a Naval chaplain.  Rev. Thomas S. Crighton followed.  He also saw war service and was a founder President of Monikie Men’s Club.  He is still in Aberdeen.  The last minister was Rev. Quinton D. Whyte for in 1939 the tiny congregation was re-united with the Parish Church in which you can still see the Old Craigton Bell and one of the Panmure seats with the family crest on it, as well as the bust of possibly Mr. McIntyre.

In 1870, A. J. Warden F.S.A., the historian, called the Church “a very handsome Church with a pretty spire”.  Today, what remains of it as part of a poultry farm, is unsightly and incongruous, a corner that badly needs tidying-up, and that is unworthy, despite the excellent order of the former manse and grounds, of those who worked hard for their cosy little congregation and to whom it meant the House of God.

(The Manse has now been converted to a pub and restaurant; the Church building was demolished and a two-storey modern house now stands on the site.)

WDC - April 1980




Today, it is a level park surrounded by lovely trees, but it has an air of sadness.  On that site there stood, what in 1682 was described by John Ochterlony of the Guynd (the family is still there in Carmyllie) as “except Holyroodhouse, the best house in the Kingdom of Scotland” - Panmure House.

The first house there is recorded as early as the 14th century - called Boisan.  By 1660, it must have been old and the Earl of Panmure decided to build a new house nearby.  In 1622 in this well organised Estate, 1060 young trees had been planted.  Forty years later they would be well grown.  Have a look at one of them, the Spanish Chestnut encased to-day in a wooden fence.

In this sheltered level site, then, with a magnificent view out to see, James Milne, builder, Alexander Nisbet, Freeman of Edinburgh, mason and John Bain, the King’s wright, made their survey and began the work in 1666.  The large workforce brought in was to have lodging with “fire and candle”.  On 4th April 1666, £12.12s.0d. was paid to the masons as drink money.  Stones were brought from Gallowhill Quarry.  Sheds were erected to keep the barrows, tools and shovels.  Lime, sand, iron work and “jeasting2 were brought in.  Slates, furnished by Ochterlony, were set by an Arbroath slater.  Robert Walker and John Tod, locksmiths, Edinburgh, did the iron work.  Nails came from David Fluker, Pathhead of Kirkcaldy.  These materials were brought by sea in “The Rising Sun” of Leith and “The Gud Hope” of Fraserburgh.  They might have used the tiny harbour at Mauleshaven, now Easthaven, but Dundee and Arbroath Harbours were also used.  Timber was brought from Norway, especially for the staircase which, 200 years later, was said to be “as sound and fresh, although overlaid by age, as when it was put up.”

The earl died before it was all completed, but the work continued under the third Earl.  In 1673, Bain, the wright, undertook to “plaster the withdrawing room in rich fruit work”.  Outside, the famous White Gates were erected.  Closed since 1715, until a Stewart king comes into his own, they still stand, magnificent, but solitary.  Mr. Alexander Edward, son of the Minister at Murroes and a leading botanist, made trips to Holland to get trees and plants for the gardens, which he laid out.  Over the present flat area, there extended a great series of ornamental gardens.

This 1666 House remained the same until about 1866, when Fax Maule extensively remodelled and embellished it.  The distinguished architect, David Bryce added two towers and made other changes.  “Under his magical touch,” a guidebook of 1892 tells us, “the previously plain edifice assumed a magnificence truly palatial.”

This stately home was demolished by being blown-up on 5th April 1955 (by the Army engineers).  Yes, there is an air of sadness about that grass park to-day.

WDC - 1982

(There is much more about Panmure House, the Estate and the family history on this website - please use the Search Engine.)




The ancient French town of Avignon in the Rhône Valley with its 12th Century Cathedral and 14th Century walls might not appear at first sight to have any connection with our Angus Parish, yet there are historic links.

It was Avignon that the 14th Century Popes, driven from Rome chose as their residence and where they built their palatial Palace.  There they instituted a mighty administrative organisation, which had complete control over the Church of Rome throughout Europe, a system which modern bureaucrats of the EC and NATO might well envy.  It came about then, that there was much correspondence between Avignon and Scotland.  Every appointment in the Scottish Church, every request to build a new Church, or grant a special marriage licence had to be ratified by the Pope.

In that correspondence, Monikie is mentioned several times.  It was founded in 1190.  On 29th April 1383, exactly 600 years ago, Pope Clement VII signed a letter to the Bishop and Chancellor of Aberdeen, and John Scalpay, Dean of Dunkeld.  It was to “Collate and appoint Robert Burnade, Clerk of St. Andrews Diocese to the perpetual vicarage of the Parish Church of Monikie, Brechin Diocese, vacant because Walter de Leneryk after having obtained peaceful possession neglected to be ordained priest within the prescribed limit of time.”

Robert Burnade would take up residence then in a rough dwelling at the Kirkton.  He would draw water from the Kirkton Well and use the Monikie Burn.  Like all these priests, he would be a skilled farmer and taught the people better methods.  Perhaps he saw the beginning of the Monk’s Mill.  He would keep his little stone-built Church in good repair.  He would visit the ancient St. Andrews Well at East Hillhead and say a prayer.  He would visit Arbroath Abbey on Church business and no doubt, the monks came to visit him.  He would have to ride also to Brechin to see his superiors and on the way maybe stop at Cairncordie Chapel.  Day by day, he would say his Office, read the Psalms and Holy Gospel in Latin and say Mass in the Church, and then go out to care for and serve the Parish.

600 years later, the Parish is vacant again.  Not the Pope in Avignon but the Presbytery of Dundee will have to confirm any appointment chosen by the vacancy committee and members.  The pastoral work is the same (now) in 1983 as it was in 1383 - the offering of worship and sacrament to God on behalf of the people.  And the same merciful God will bless His people in Monikie as He has done in their journey down the ages.

[I cannot finish this, my last Newsletter without saying how grateful we are for all the support and kindness shown to us over the years.  Dorothy (Mrs. Chisholm) and I have been very happy here and we thank you and wish you all every happiness and prosperity.]

WDC - 1983

[Regrettably, Mrs. Chisholm died in 2000.]


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