Saturday, 27 July 2013


The name New Abbey is something of a misnomer, since the abbey in question, now a ruin, dates from 1273.  There are many examples in the world of a building being erected by a grieving spouse in memory of their other half, but in the majority of cases it is the husband who erects the memorial - the Taj Mahal is probably the most famous example.  However, in the case of this abbey it was the wife of a dead husband who founded the abbey in his memory.  The husband was John de Balliol, a leading Scottish figure who died in 1268, and it was his wife Lady Devorguilla who started the abbey.  The story goes that after John's death Lady Devorguilla carried his embalmed heart around everywhere with her, and that she was buried with it in the abbey, hence the rather endearing name: Sweetheart Abbey. The abbey is run by Historic Scotland.

The village of New Abbey is on the New Abbey Pow burn, which runs into the Nith estuary, and the whole scene is dominated by the Criffel, a nearby prominent hill.  Energetic walkers who climb to the top of the hill are rewarded with views of the Nith estuary and even as far as the Isle Of Man.  Another popular walk with estuary views starts from the abbey and leads up to the Waterloo Monument on Waterloo Hill just outside the village.  One of the more prominent buildings in the village is Shambellie House, surrounded by beautiful grounds.  The house used to contain the National Museum of Costume, but sadly this has become a victim of the recession, with a reduction in funding coupled with low visitor numbers necessitating its closure.  It was a former owner of Shambellie House who built the Corn Mill, a water-powered mill which is still in full working order.  The mill is in a picturesque setting with a duck pond nearby.  Nearby Mabie Forest has a number of picnic areas and walking trails, one of which takes in the Mabie Nature Reserve.

Map of the area. 

File:Sweetheart Abbey - - 1716748.jpg
Photo by Andrew Curtis, via Wikimedia Commons

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