The Kingdom of Kippen

This facetious "Kingdom" was constituted in the reign of James IV. (1488-1513), and came about in the following manner.

Sir Duncan Forrester of Garden was controller of the King's household under James IV. The Menzies were then proprietors of great part of the parish of Kippen, and of some part of that of Killearn. Menzies of Arnprior, in that part of the former which is included in Perthshire, had a quarrel with Forrester of Garden, who, as Menzies was childless, insisted that he should either settle his estate upon him by testament, or instantly withdraw from it. Menzies applied to Walter Buchanan of Buchanan, and offered to leave Arnprior to one of his sons if he would defend him from Forrester. Buchanan accepted the offer, and sent his second son, John, with a dry nurse, to live with his adoptive father. On hearing this, Forrester came to Arnprior, in Menzies* absence, and ordered the nurse to carry back the child, otherwise he would burn the Castle of Arnprior about their ears. The woman, however, setting him at defiance, and threatening him with her master's vengeance, intimidated him, and he did not make good his word.

The King of Kippen

John Buchanan became proprietor of Arnprior, and afterwards the noted "King of Kippen," a phrase which originated in the whimsical episode between himself and James V., who, it may be explained, was fond of travelling in disguise under the title of "The Guidman o' Ballengeich," after the steep path leading down from the Castle of Stirling.

The story has been variously put. It is shortly this: The King, with his nobles, was residing in Stirling Castle, and having sent a party for some deer to the hills in the neighbourhood of Gartmore, on their return to Stirling with the venison they passed through Arnprior, where they were attacked by the chief, and relieved of their burden. On expostulating with Buchanan for so ruthlessly taking from them what belonged to the King, Buchanan replied that if James was King in Scotland, he was King of Kippen. The messengers reporting the circumstance to the King, he, relishing a joke, resolved to wait on his neighbouring majesty of Kippen, and rode out one day with a small retinue from Stirling. Demanding admittance at the palace of Arnprior, he was refused by a fierce-looking warrior standing at the gate with a battle-axe sloped on his shoulder, who told him there was no admission, as his chief was at dinner with a large company, and could not be disturbed at that time. "Tell your master," said James, " 'the Guidman of Ballengeich' humbly requests an audience of the King of Kippen." Buchanan, guessing the quality of his guest, received His Majesty with the appropriate honours, and became so great a favourite that he had leave to draw upon the carrier as often as he pleased, and was invited, as "King of Kippen," to visit his brother sovereign at Stirling.

"Oot o' the world and into Kippen."

The situation of the village is so sequestered that a common saying of the country folks is as above. The phrase is the title of the following lines composed by Stewart A. Robertson, M.A., Stirling High School, and are supposed to be spoken by a husband to his wife, both natives of the "Kingdom," dwelling in New York:

"Oot o' the world and into Kippen,"
Eh! Jean, d'ye mind the braes
That rise sae bonnie frae the carse?
D'ye mind the summer days
When you and I were bairnies there,
And never thocht we'd be
Sae far frae hame in this far land
Across the saut, saut sea ?

"Oot o' the world and into Kippen,"
The folks wad laugh and say,
Losh keep me! lass, hoo things come back,
It seems but yesterday
Since you and I forsook the braes
And owre the waters came,
To settle in this weary land,
Sae far, sae far frae hame.

"Oot o' the world and into Kippen,"
Eh! Jean, that that could be?
There isna ocht I hae on earth
But I wad gladly gie
If only we could tread again
The paths where ance we ran,
Where the heather grows on Kippen Muir
And the braes abune Boquhan.

"Oot o' this world o' noisy streets
Into that place o' calm,
Where to the hills men lift their eyes,
D'ye mind they sang that psalm
The Sabbath we were kirkit there ?
Aye, fifty years are gone,
But ye were then the bonniest bride
'Tween Kippen and Balfron.

Oot o' this world o' unkent things,
Oh! that we baith could win!
And hear the pee-weep on the hills,
And see the yellow whin,
And see the bonnie gowans smile
As if they kent us a',
And welcomed us to oor ain land,
The best land o' them a'.

"Oot o' the world and into Kippen,"
Jean, lass, it ne'er will be,
The burnie's waters ne'er run back,
Nor buds the uprooted tree.
The fecht o' life for us is past
Forfochen wi' the fray,
Oot o' the world and into........ rest,
Ere lang we baith shall gae.

 

The foregoing poem elicited the following reply

Thy voice across the saut, saut sea
Has reached the "Kingdom" high,
And draws from kindly Kippen folks
The tribute of a sigh.

That a warm, human heart should long,
In New York's surging city,
For breath o' auld warld Kippen air
Fills all our souls with pity.

Though times are changed sin' ye left here,
And auld folk passed away,
Mayhap as kindly hearts beat now
As flourished in your day.

Whatever changes come to pass
'Mangst men and their affairs,
Still winds the Forth through fair Menteith,
Still blow heaven's balmy airs.

O'er Kippen Muir, through garden bower,
Round many a humble dwelling,
Or doun the glen, by Dougal's tower,
The same brown spate is swelling.

The rushing waters o' Boquhan
Fall o'er the "Hole of Sneath,"
And rest awhile, from their turmoil,
In the deep, dark linn beneath,

Then onward through the red rock bowls
The "Devil's Cauldron" boiling,
And round and round, with deaf ning sound,
The angry waters toiling.

Anon, through "Belly o' the Whale,"
Where brown trout dart and quiver,
And laddies throw the baited hook
To-day — the same as ever.

Still the shy dipper lays white eggs
In Cuthbertson's shady glen,
And the grey wagtail rears her brood
Where truant schoolboys ken.

Still slips the burn o'er rocky bed,
O'er "Leckie's Loup" it dashes,
Round the Keir Knowe, to join the Forth,
Through marigolds and rashes.

Athwart Ben Ledi— Hill of God—
Falls the weird morning light,
And heralds each returning day
Born of the silent night.

The varied gleams of fairy light
Still dance on Flanders Moss,
And glory bathes the ancient oaks
And mansion of Cardross.

Still Glenny and Mondouie's slopes
Look on the "sharp steel sheen"
That girds the holy island which
Once sheltered Scotland's Queen.

O, Hill of God, that doth abide
While generations pass,
I to thy heights will lift mine eyes,
Will sing my morning mass.

The parson from the manse still views
The mountains, plain, and skies,
Still, for men's sins he cannot cure,
He supplicates and sighs.

"Oot o' the world and into Kippen,"
Far from the rough world's din,
May your spirit come o'er the saut, saut sea
To rest with your kith and kin.

 

Kippen Railway Station

This hitherto dull and cheerless station has recently undergone a complete transformation, a large selection of plants and choice flowers, producing every shade and variety of colour, being artistically studded on, around, and in eveiy available nook and corner of the platform; while borders in semi-shaded spots are profusely filled with Polypodium Vulgare. Ornamental vases, beds and mounds of various designs, edged with blaes and white pebbles, blue and golden coloured violas, etc., adorn the centre of the platform; while in the background, stretching the entire length of the boundary fence, are rows of superb varieties of sweet peas, in the centre of which rises the artistic hoarding of Messrs. Munro & Jamieson, of the Observer Office, Stirling.

Although passengers, tourists, etc., are still bowled along the track at the same slow speed as fifty years ago, yet tourists and others alighting at this newly made miniature paradise will hesitate and ponder ere they are again heard to exclaim they have come "Oot o' the world and into Kippen."