A review by David Munro
For anyone who enjoys visiting Falkland Palace, exploring the streets, wynds and closes of historic Falkland or strolling through the leafy designed landscape of the Falkland Estate, the publications of The Falkland Society are an invaluable source shedding light on this idyllic corner of Fife in the shadow of the Lomond Hills.
Hot off the press, as 2020 draws to a close, is the latest offering from The Falkland Society - a 560-page hardback volume entitled Falkland and its People 1901-1913. Researched by Thomas Playfair and edited by Ross Burgess, this new book draws on a wide range of newspapers, Town Council minutes and Falkland Estate papers to reveal a fascinating insight into all aspects of daily life in Falkland in the Edwardian period. More than 60 illustrations and four maps also provide a visual feast highlighting people, places and events of the time.
Between the pages we can visualise the last days of handloom weaving and the growth of linen and floorcloth factories as major employers alongside the arrival of motor cars, the telephone and piped water as well as plans for a Falkland Light Railway. In addition to local markets, fairs and sporting activities, great social events are recorded such as celebrations to mark the coronation of King Edward VII and the wedding of local laird Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart.
Read also about petty criminal activities that include hen raids, coal stealing, hawking beer, poaching and the stealing of pies from a baker’s shop by youngsters of 14 years and under for which punishment was meted out by administering strokes of the birch as a means of “keeping them out of mischief.” Find out about the three-week autumn potato lifting holiday and the threat posed by the Women’s Suffragette movement in the summer of 1913 when Falkland Palace was closed for fear of vandalism by militants. The approaching war is scarcely mentioned though, apart from a passing reference to recruiting for the Highlands Cyclist Battalion.
Full of fascinating detail, this is a book to dip into in search of local insights prior to great changes that would see so many of the people in the narrative of this community swept away as war engulfed the world.
Dr David M. Munro MBE