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History of Polwarth

is a small village and parish to the west of Gavinton, on the A6105 between Greenlaw and Duns.  There has been a parish church here since the 1400s but the present building dates from 1703 and is located around half a mile south of Polwarth village.   Polwarth Castle was once situated halfway between the two.   Most of the village of Polwarth served the Marchmont estate, which now falls into the Greenlaw & Hume Community Council area but occupies most of the parish.  Polwarth is situated on the edge of hillier terrain, and the around a third of the parish consisted formerly of heathland.

undated, probably mid 1800s

This parish is, in area, the second smallest in Berwickshire. It has always been an agricultural area, though in 1866 it was reported that approximately one third of the total was hilly and covered in heath. The Marchmont estate occupies a substantial part of the parish and estate workers accounted for many of the residents of Polwarth.

The exact population prior to the 18th century is unknown though, in 1811, it is believed that Polwarth was home to over 300 people most of whom relied upon the estate for their living. The village must have been of importance because it hosted an annual fair, St Mungo’s Fair, attended by people from all over the area. It has even been said that the Scottish king, James V, attended the fair one year.

Technically, Polwarth was the County Town of Berwickshire, but only for one night! At the end of the 19th century, the County Town changed from Greenlaw to Duns and the coach carrying the documents investing that status made an overnight stop at Polwarth.

As happened with many great estates, the needs of the First World War began a decline in the number of people employed at Marchmont. A decline which progressed with the coming of mechanised farming and the Second World War. In addition, improved transport meant individual villages no longer needed to be self-sufficient for trades and services. By the early 21st century, the population of the parish was in single figures and, though some new houses have been built, it is not expected that numbers will rise enough to merit the designation of ‘village’

Today, the two places which define Polwarth are the Kirk and the Polwarth Thorn

See old maps of Polwarth and the area here, and further information on Polwarth here

Some images in and around Polwarth are presented here (from the Gallery section)

Listed Buildings

Details of listed buildings are on the SBC planning portal, including the category definitions.  The map below is derived from Historic Scotland.  The source map shows all listed buildings, with links to further details of each building (zoom in to area of interest and click the ‘layers’ and ‘legend’ icons to select what you want to see)

aerial view of Polwarth

View and zoom-in to high definition aerial views of Polwarth and Cothill

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