Back in the 1800s there were many more hostelries or pubs peppering this landscape, many of them to support the popularity of fishing on the Whiteadder Water.
In his book ‘The Gateway of Scotland or East Lothian, Lammermoor and the Merse’, published in 1912, writer Arthur Granville Bradley (1850-1943) recalls a former such inn near Ellemford, which we think was here: ‘Where a burn comes prattling down a grassy dene, and beneath oak and ash trees for whom also time seems to have stood still…’. At the time of writing, he lamented that the inn was, by then, a private house but recalled there once being a sign hanging above it: ‘a trout, I think, and if not it should have been’.
As a younger man Bradley had made several summer visits to the area. Writing about it many years later he fondly describes Grace, the innkeeper, as a ‘rough honest ruler of men’. He goes on:
‘It was she who heaped the eggs and bacon, and fried trout upon the table at breakfast, and selected the carver of the black-faced mutton at supper. It was she who knew exactly what sort of a ‘piece’, or what manner of sandwiches each habitue was accustomed to have ‘awa’ wi’ him.’ It was Grace who greeted the arriving guest, if a familiar, in boisterous and hearty Doric, and delivered and received a few broadsides of banter before he settled down, so to speak, into his proper place.’
And to top it all she offered all of this at bargain prices: ‘It was she who presented his account to the parting guest, a little scrawl that would make the present-day angler of limited purse reflect with sorrow that he had been born into the world just a generation too late.
‘Local people didn’t seem to remember much about this inn when Bradley enquired. He asked a Berwickshire ploughman and here is a snippet of their conversation, as he remembered it, in his book:
‘What’s come to the old inn?’
‘Aye, I’ve heer’d yon hoose was an inn once, and a gey fine yin tae; the gentles used to come there fushin’ frae Edinborie an’ the like o’ that.’
‘Did you ever hear the name of the landlord?’ He took his pipe out of his mouth and spat, as if to clear his brain.
‘I’ve heer’d tell o’ the folks who used to keep it, but I canna jes’ ca’ their names, but they’re a’ awa frae here this lang syne.’
Bradley then responds to the ploughman’s description of ‘gentles’ coming from Edinburgh: ‘Gentility was not vastly scrutinised in that snug and simple haven. They were all sorts, and from all places, but mainly decent anglers, and that was enough.’