Stenton village is the main settlement in the parish of the same name. Although it never seems to have had the status of a burgh, its layout reflects the burghal pattern in miniature. Thus, houses and businesses with long, thin garden plots lying behind behind line either side of a road. The church was at the eastern end (20th century council housing now extends beyond) and a fork in the road made a natural termination at the west. In 1681, the Hamiltons of Pressmennan and Biel secured an act enabling a weekly market and a twice yearly fair at Stenton; the remains of the market tron still mark the site where the markets were held in to the middle of the 19th century: now a pleasant green on the north side of the village.
A tron was a public weigh post and beam, used for the bulk measurement of, in Stenton’s case, the wool clip and hides sold at the market. Grain was sold by volume, the standard unit being a bushel. But different ‘bushels’ were used for different gains or legumes. It was all very complicated.
The older properties in the village are built of locally quarried stone and are predominantly roofed with red clay pantiles – it gives the core of the village a unifying character.
And it’s all very quiet now: but formerly it was a bustling place. For example, in 1841 302 of the parishes 696 residents were under the age of 15! all of them would have been expected to attend Stenton school (where there were a male and female teacher) at least until the age of 12 or 14. In addition there was a good range of shops, workshops and other businesses – baker, tailors, clothier, grocer, shoemakers, a couple of general merchants (licenced) and a spirit dealer as well as what later directories call ‘dealers in sundries’ – corner shops today. The trades were the usual ones for East Lothian – masons, wrights (wheel, cart and mill), joiners, and smiths. Remarkably, 3 men entered their profession as ‘hand loom weaver’ – 2 linen, 1 cotton – the remnant of a once widespread rural industry, which was well down the route of industrialisation in urban centres.
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