A walk around Monifieth at a leisurely pace on one of the recent beautiful summer days, gives time to ponder and think of the layout, of housing in what was `the old village`. It is quite easy to follow a lane, which runs the length of the High Street, with the front or main doors of dwellings on Hill Street and Durham Street, apparently facing the wrong direction. At one time along this route were a line of fresh water wells. This is reputed to have been in bygone days, the main thoroughfare of the village.
The entry to the lane from Church Street , opposite St. Rules, takes you to the back of houses facing Maule Street, where at one time a fresh water pump once stood, however, in doing so you will pass another historic building, which is still inhabited today. The small cottage facing towards the river, now joined by a recently erected modern house, was the Ale House, of Jenny Barrie.
Kirk Session records reveal that drinking on the Sabbath, although forbidden from the pulpit, was far from being unusual. The inn keepers were warned by the elders of the kirk against allowing Sunday drinking to get outwith reasonable bounds. A minute from the Session reads `The minister preached both sermons. The Session met. The elders searched the changing houses. Non found drinking there`.
From disciplinary cases recorded by the session this must have been an odd occasion, as several references are made to elders, the beadle and women of the village, ordered to appear in sackcloth before the assembled congregation, to be rebuked by the minister, for Sabbath drunken-ness.
Had the attraction of Jennie Barrie`s Inn , and the few yards separating it from the long sermons, been overpowering?. Was the long journey on foot to the Kirk a `drouthie` business?. Thoughts of the short interval of time between the end of the morning service and commencement of the afternoon sermon , leaving insufficient time to travel home and back again.
If only Jenny` s Inn could tell some of the tales of the past witnessed within it`s walls. Perhaps some of the wines and spirits refreshing and uplifting the weary had come ashore without the knowledge of the `gaugers` or excisemen.
With much river traffic smuggling was a local past-time. Bales of tobacco, wines and spirits, playing cards and candles ,were listed among items impounded by customs officers.
In 1788 Customs Officers were making a seizure of spirits about a mile and a half north of Dundee, when they met with `obstinate resistance`. The onset of violence was instantaneous, when the smugglers were asked to stop the cart carrying the goods. The `gaugers` were carrying arms and in the melee Andrew Duncan, the driver was fatally wounded. Two of the three others accompanying Duncan were named Baird and Steen, well known smugglers and Monifieth residents. Steen was wounded in the skirmish and suffered injuries from the gauger `s sword.
At the summers end, around this time of year, grazing cattle on the common ground, and belonging to local Monifieth residents, were collected and counted.
The bull sales were recorded as to have taken place within within Jenny`s hostelry. Celebrations could be without limit of time. It has been said that the jollifications could last from the time a sloop left the bay for Newcastle, then returned with another cargo for unloading..
Monifieth had been quite a lively place to live in those bye gone days. Certainly there would appear to have been much activity around the Kirk. Had the cattle brought in from the forgotten `common ground` been counted in the glebe?.
Perhaps someday I will have the answer to that question.
by Mhairi Pyott.