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Kelso Abbey

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Kelso Abbey is about 300 yards south of the Market Square in Kelso, on Bridge Street.

Kelso Abbey is the burial place of Prince Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria and Huntingdon, and where King James III was crowned.

The Abbey is open to visitors all year round Free of charge. Postcode: TD5 7JD.

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Kelso Abbey was founded in the 1100s by Tironensian Monks from Tiron in France, brought to Scotland by King Alexander I.

The original Abbey was to be built at Selkirk 19 miles west, most important town in the region at that time. This Abbey was never built into anything substantial.

Alexander I died in 1124, leading to his brother David I becoming King. David had been investing much of his wealth into the area around Kelso, so in 1128, took the decision to have the Abbey built at Kelso instead.

Alexander and David were sons of Malcolm III Canmore by his wife Margaret of Wessex, later Saint Margaret. This family was credited with uniting a number of small Scottish Kingdoms into the one Kingdom of Scotland.

The Canmore's used religion as a way to unite communities and help control the country. They were the Monarchs of Scotland from 1058 to 1286, encouraging the building of a number of large Abbeys and Cathedrals all over Scotland such as the largest and most important:

Dunfermline Abbey 1070

Kelso Abbey 1128

Melrose Abbey 1136

Jedburgh Abbey 1147

Dryburgh Abbey 1150

St Andrews Cathedral 1158

Arbroath Abbey 1178

Elgin Cathedral 1224

With Kelso Abbey being situated close to the Border, it was damaged on a number occasions during wars between Scotland and England from the First War of Scottish Independence in 1298, to the 1540s when King Henry VIII of England began sending forces into Scotland to destroy Abbeys and Castles in an attempt to get the Infant Mary Queen of Scots to mary his young son, a War known as the Rough Wooing.

1530s - Henry VIII made Catholic worship in England illegal, leading to the destruction of Abbeys throughout England.

1560 - the Scottish Parliament passed an Act abolishing the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, leading to most of the Cathedrals and Abbey's in Scotland being destroyed.

Some Catholic buildings were spared destruction so they could be used as Protestant Churches.

1647 to 1771 - part of Kelso Abbey was used as a Parish Church, with stone from other parts of the Abbey taken for local buildings.

1805 - a large section of the Abbey, including the Parish Church, were cleared from the site.

1933 - a Memorial Cloister to the 8th Duke of Roxburghe was built in the style when the Abbey was first built.

Today - the Abbey is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland with flower beds and seating areas all around.

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