Garvald | Miscellany


On Easter Monday, 14 April 1952 whilst he was Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh, the most Reverend Gordon Joseph Gray MA (Cardinal Gray) dug the first sod of the new Nunraw Abbey, in the field to the west of the Duns road. On 22 August 1954, before 13,000 people, he laid the foundation stone in the rain and mud!

Several years later he was looking for some place where he could retreat from his busy Edinburgh life. He came across a roofless shepherd’s cottage at Castle Moffat, on the monks’ land, above Nunraw. The Abbot gave him permission to restore it, and when he could find time, he would come and stay there. He became a familiar figure in the village, with his easy friendly manner; and none of us realised what an important man he was. Mostly we remember the vegetables he would enter in the village Flower Show. He noticed that the ordinary gardeners were not going to be able to produce a tray of immaculate oversized vegetables, so he donated a cup to be awarded for the best collection of vegetables in an ordinary ‘chip’ basket (that is a mushroom basket), which is still awarded.

On August 6 1978, he was staying at his cottage, when he heard of the death of Pope Paul. By this time he had been made a Cardinal and had to make immediate preparations to fly to Rome for the Pope’s funeral and to attend the ‘conclave’ for the installation of a new Pope.

Arthur Greenan sent his own tale of the Cardinal, Willie Tear and the Garvald Show to The Scotsman on 11 December 2002:

One year at the Garvald Show, Willie [Tear] and Arthur [Greenan] were getting the hall ready when they spotted two cucumbers on a silver platter for Best Matching Pair category. One was a beaut, but the other was like a wee shrivelled sausage. “Which stupid bugger’s put that yin in?” Arthur lifted the card and sighed: “It’s from your pal from the church.” Immediately Willie dispatched Arthur to the greenhouse for a replacement. Later that afternoon, as the Cardinal toured the show, he stopped in front of the cucumbers. “What’s that Willie?” “It’s a first-prize ticket” Silence. “Listen, I had bugger-all to do with it” His Eminence leaned forward: “You know Willie, the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways”’.


  • Sonia Baker: Leisure – Longyester Dances
  • Margaret M. Runcie: Economy – Garvald Grange
  • Michael T.R.B. Turnbull: Belief – Information on Nunraw – Abbey & Farm
  • And the recollections of Ray Wilson (hill farming; living in a farm cottage; Longyester dances)

Extracts (10, 11 December 2002) reproduced with kind permission from The Scotsman