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Perth b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Perth in Perth and Kinross

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Visit Perth and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Perth, Perth and Kinross, is alternatively known as the Fair City. The visitor to the place would do well to agree with the alternative as an axiom, if he would not fall foul of the vehement, but courteous, unanimity of the citizens. Yet, if you had the temerity to be objective, you might say that it is not clear whether it is the city itself that is fair, or its setting, or both. The ancient kirk of St John Baptist, one of the noblest of the great Scottish burghal churches of the 15th century, with its spire “as clean as a hound's tooth”, is by far the rarest of the relics, both in antiquity and in beauty.

Elsewhere, tucked away between modern frontages, sweetly-curved small windows throw light on antiques (in South Street). If you hunt for them, you will come upon vestiges of the town houses that belonged to a now long-dead nobility; well-proportioned gables recall a past more tenderly resolved to combine elegance with function. Solidity is fused with grace in the terraces and places that confront the green magnificence of the riverside inches. These terraces, in particular Rose Terrace, are reminiscent of the Edinburgh New Town style, and are an example of how that noble style continued to flourish and push its way up the East of Scotland deep into the 19th century. A cheer is due no less for the (1960) ferro-concrete Queen's Bridge than for Smeaton's old (1771) masterpiece in rose-red sandstone, farther up-river.

Take a look at Perth as you come up from the South, over “Necessity Brae” (which joins the main road from Glasgow at Cherry-bank), or in from the East, or best of all from the summit of Kinnoull (729 ft), and the prospect is surely stirring: that of the varied, natural grandeur enfolding the place, but not less, perhaps, that of the place itself, spired and reeky, solid and studiously compact, emanating an immemorial fidelity to its bridges, which (if it did not impoverish the merchants in its medieval guilds) well served the security and wealth of bygone Scotland through many centuries.

Or walk up the river from the old bridge, look around and marvel at the continuing pleasance of the modern scene. Colonial cricketers, with (as the locals are sure) as much aesthetic discrimination as athletic distinction, have been known to testify that they never play in more splendid surroundings than those of Scotland's premier County Club on the North Inch.

Debate about the meaning of the place-name is inconclusive. A possible derivation is from the Welsh perth (“bush, copse, or thicket”), but a more obvious explanation lies in the contraction and mutation of Abertay, through Bertha, to Perth. Formerly it was known as St John's Toun, to which might be added “at the mouth of the Tay”.

The theory that the place originated round a Roman camp of the 1st century is supported by the plan and dimensions of the old town within a city wall (of which there are still remnants), the course of which was by way of Canal St. Canal Crescent, Methven St, and Mill St.; Ene from about the North end of Skinnergate to the South East corner of the front block of the Royal George Hotel (George St), thence south-eastwards to the River Tay, North of a medieval bridge sited near the end of High St. Though there is evidence for the national importance of nearby places (e.g. Abernethy, Forteviot, Scone) earlier than the 9th century, Perth makes no appearance in records before the 12th, when it seems to have been well established. The Augustinian canons of Scone claim that a dwelling-place in Perth was amongst the first grants made by Alexander I to the monks (c. 111415). About 1126 David I gave the Kirk of Perth to Dunfermline Abbey; and shortly afterwards he instructed his steward at Perth (Malbride MacCongi) that the tenths of the King's house there were payable to Dunfermline. David, too, gave an annual payment from the revenue of his mills at Perth to the Abbey at Scone. He is also reputed to have given the burgh the wide trading privileges later comprised in a charter of William the Lion.

It has been claimed that for centuries Perth was the national capital. This may be an exaggeration (yet there must be some explanation of the fact that still Perth's Lord Provost, in official precedence, ranks second only to that of Edinburgh). Kings and their courts were peripatetic in feudal times, and Perth was frequently the royal residence. Scone, nearby, was the place of many coronations. Parliaments and General Councils are known to have been convened there between the accession of Alexander I (11067) and the death of Robert III (1406). In a l0th century chronicle it is called the Royal City, and in charters of Malcolm IV and Robert III the “principal seat of our kingdom”. Plainly, Perth was for long the governing centre of Scotland. It was also a preferred meeting-place for Scottish church councils from the beginning of the 13th century onwards. It seems possible that, had James I lived a few years longer or died a natural death, Perth might have become the permanent capital.

The city has been besieged seven times and has been the scene of many turbulent events. Among them were the Battle of the Clans (1396); the destruction of four monasteries and the altars in the Kirk (1559), consequent on the lambent preaching of John Knox that kindled the Reformation in Scotland; the Gowrie mystery (1600); the meeting of the “red” parliament, the last to be convened here (1606); the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (1618), at which the Five Articles of Perth were approved; and Cromwell's invasion (1651). Perth was Jacobite in 1715 and 1745. Prince Charles Edward lodged at the Salutation Hotel, drilled troops on the North Inch, and here proclaimed his father King.

Surviving records include a large collection of royal charters, the oldest (1210) being that of William the Lion; a letter from John Blair, Postmaster-General, of the 7th of November 1689, explaining the beginning of the post office system in Perth; the census of 1766, showing the population at 7,542; papers dealing with the first railway between Perth and Dunkeld (1835); a petition of Mistress Agnes Ranken (1719) for encouragement to carry on her school “much put out of its course by the late rebellion”; information about attempts to find coal (1686, 1732, 1782); an Obligation by James I of Scotland to indemnify the city for its share of his ransom (1424),. and “Ane charge be King James the Secund To the toun for fanseing the burgh wyth wallis in respect of the murther of King James the First”, as well as “Ane charge to mak wallis about the toun to resist the Kingis rebellis”.

The city, in the past, won for itself an unenviable reputation for iconoclasm, but visible evidences of its antiquity remain. The greatest of these is the Kirk, consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews, in 1243. Divided for about 200 years into three separate churches, it was restored to its primitive unity (19236) as the memorial to men of the city and county who fell in the First World War (the architect was Sir Robert Lorimer). The walls are splendid with many examples of modem stained glass at its best, and on view in the interior is the congregation's priceless possession of old pewter, silver-gilt sacramental vessels, and a baptismal basin (16th century), expertly esteemed as one of the finest examples of ancient Edinburgh silver-ware. In 1936, on the initiative of Melville Gray of Bowerswell (brother-in-law of John Ruskin), a carillon of thirty-five bells, founded by Gillet & Johnston of Croydon, was hung in the tower.

No substantial remains of other historic buildings survive. The memorials of them, and of vanished activities and conditions of life, are now in the names of the streets and lanes of the city Charterhouse, Blackfriars, Whitefriars, Greyfriars, Pomarium, Skinnergate, Guard Vennel, Flesher's Vennel, and the rest. In the courtyard of the Salutation (said to be the oldest hotel in Scotland) is a stone bearing the motto and arms of the Earls of Moray, and dated 1619; more than likely, it marks the site of a house of nobility. Inscriptions and the like are elsewhere: in the North Port, where once stood the Castle of Perth; on the Waterworks, the place of Cromwell's citadel. Inscribed pillars on the North Inch recall the Battle of the Clans, and another, at the riverside, the Monks' Tower. Tokens in the paving of the High St commemorate the old town cross and pillory, the stone of which is preserved in the Museum. Thus also John Ruskin's residence in Rose Terrace and John Buchan's in York Place are recorded. Out of immaterial legend a house, in the Curfew Row, has been conjured for Sir Walter Scott's Fair Maid of Perth.

The medieval importance of the harbour may be measured by the fact that in 1269 the customs dues amounted to what must have been then the great sum of £700. In later centuries the magistrates seem to have neglected the commercial possibilities of the river, and the shipping trade was largely alienated to places like Newburgh, farther downstream.

Nearby cities: Dundee

Nearby towns: Aberfeldy, Auchterarder, Auchtermuchty, Blairgowrie, Coupar Angus, Crieff, Dunkeld, Kinross

Nearby villages: Aberargie, Aberdalgie, Abernethy, Abernyte, Almondbank, Arngask, Balbeggie, Bankfoot, Bridge of Earn, Cargill, Collace, Dron, Dunning, Errol, Falkland, Forgandenny, Forteviot, Gateside, Glencarse, Glenfarg, Guildtown, Keillour, Kilspindie, Kinclaven, Kinfauns, Kinnaird, Lindores, Luncarty, Meikleour, Methven, New Scone, Newburgh, Rait, Rannoch, St. Madoes, St. Martins, Stanley, Strathmiglo, Tullybelton, Woodside

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