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Kirkcudbright, ([kʰɜ'kʰuːbri] kur-KOO-bree; Scottish Gaelic: Cille Chuithbeirt) is a town and parish in Kirkcudbrightshire, of which it is traditionally the county town, within Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
An early rendition of the name of the town was Kilcudbrit; this derives from the Gaelic Cille Chuithbeirt meaning "chapel of Cuthbert", the saint whose mortal remains were kept at the town between their exhumation at Lindisfarne and reinterment at Chester-le-Street.
John Spottiswoode, in his account of religious houses in Scotland, mentions that the Franciscans, or Grey Friars, had been established at Kirkcudbright from the 12th century. No traces of the Greyfriars or Franciscan dwellings remain in the parish of Kirkcudbright.
In 1453 Kirkcudbright became a royal burgh. About a century later, the magistrates of the town obtained permission from Queen Mary to use part of the convent and nunnery as a parish church. From around 1570, Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie, the chief magistrate, received a charter for the site, its grounds and gardens. MacLellan dismantled the church in order to obtain material for his new castle, a very fine house, which was built on the site.
After defeat at the Battle of Towton, Henry VI of England crossed the Solway Firth in August 1461 to land at Kirkcudbright in support of Queen Margaret at Linlithgow. The town for some time withstood a siege in 1547 from the English commander Sir Thomas Carleton but, after the surrounding countryside had been overrun, was compelled to surrender.
Kirkcudbright Tolbooth was built between 1625 and 1629 and served not only as the tolbooth, but also the council offices, the burgh and sheriff courts, the criminal prison and the debtors' prison. One of the most famous prisoners was John Paul Jones, hero of the United States Navy, who was born in Kirkbean.
St Andrews and St Cuthbert's Church was designed in 1886 by London Architect A E Purdie (1843-1920), in the Gothic style. In 1971 the interior was re-ordered and stripped of its Victorian fixtures and fittings and now features an abstract concrete and iron cross by the notable Liverpool sculptor Sean Rice (1931-1997), modern stained glass by Jerzy Faczynski stained glass and a frieze by local artists. The church was built on the site of the old prison and the governor's house now serves as the clergy house.
Kirkcudbright Training Area 
Like many other remote areas during the Second World War, a 4,700-acre (19 km2) area to the southeast of the town and extending to the coast of the Solway Firth, was acquired by the Army in 1942, as a training area for the D-Day invasion. The area remains in active use for live-firing exercises to this day. Part of the training area is the Dundrennan Range, a weapons development and testing range. The use of this range for the testing of depleted uranium shells has been controversial. The range also contains one of the two surviving A39 Tortoise heavy assault tanks from the six prototypes originally produced. The 32-pdr gun has been removed and the tank is used for target practice. Due to the range's designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, removal of the tank to a museum is unlikely.
Arts in Kirkcudbright Today
Kirkcudbright has for long been a centre for visual artists and is now known as "the Artists' Town". The town's roadside signs and logo include a representation of paint on a painter's pallet. Today, painters, textile artists, embroiderers, ceramicists, photographers, etchers, print makers, sculptors, encaustic artists, willow makers and more all work in or around the town.
Kirkcudbright is home to an artists' collective, who have a shop in the town centre: The PA Professional Artists Collective
It is also a centre in which many artists open their studios during Spring Fling Open Studios.
The highlight is the Kirkcudbright Arts & Crafts Trail which takes place every summer. This allows visitors to see artists' studios and visit places that are normally off-limits to visitors. It is over four days, ending with the (English) August Bank Holiday Monday - the first Monday in August. So, for 2019, the Trail is from Friday 2nd – Monday 5th August 2019.
Each year, for much more than the summer, the Kirkcudbright Summer Festivities Committee organises a range of events. https://www.kirkcudbright.town/kirkcudbright-summer-festivities/
There are many galleries in Kirkcudbright. These include:
- Probably the oldest: The Harbour Cottage Gallery. This has open exhibitions, work from gallery selected artists, individual shows, and an annual exhibition of the Fine Art Society, Edinburgh.
- The Whitehouse Gallery
- The Ochre Gallery has work of its owner, painter Richard Brindley, and others
- The High St Gallery exhibits Scottish contemporary art, Scottish and Kirkcudbright fine Art, decorative arts & collectables and jewellery.
Broughton House is an 18th-century town house standing on the High Street. It was the home of Scots impressionist artist Edward Atkinson Hornel between 1901 and his death in 1933. The National Trust for Scotland maintain the house and its contents as a museum of Hornel's life and work.
The Stewartry Museum was founded in 1879 and was at first based in the Town Hall until it became too small to house the collections. The collection moved to a purpose-built site. It contains the local and natural history of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Britain's earliest surviving sporting trophy, the Siller Gun, is part of the collection, as are paintings by many local artists.
The new Kirkcudbright Galleries was officially opened in July 2018 by the Princess Royal. It is situated in the former Town Hall. On display are paintings by the various artists who lived and worked in the town. There is also a gallery for visiting exhibitions, a cafe and gift shop.
- Kirkcudbright has had a long association with the Glasgow art movement. Several artists, including the Glasgow Boys and the famed Scottish Colourists, such as Samuel Peploe and Francis Cadell, based themselves in the area over a 30-year period from 1880 to 1910, establishing the Kirkcudbright Artists' Colony.
- Also among those who moved here from Glasgow were Edward Hornel, George Henry and Jessie M. King. Later another small group of Glasgow-trained artists built their studios across the river at The Stell, including John Charles Lamont and Robert Sivell. Landscape painter Charles Oppenheimer moved to Kirkcudbright in 1908. He is given credit along with artist Dorothy Nesbitt for protecting the Harbour Cottage (art) Gallery from demolition in 1956. Kirkcudbright became known as "the artists' town", although longtime residents considered it a "fishing town".
- Landscape and figure painter William Hanna Clarke lived in Kirkcudbright, and many of his works featured the town. He is buried in the town's churchyard and his tombstone was carved by his friend Alexander Proudfoot, a Glasgow sculptor.
- Merchant Robert Lenox, father of New York City philanthropist and bibliophile James Lenox, born in New York City on August 19, 1800. His personal collection would give rise to the New York Public Library
- Kirkcudbright has been home to some professional footballers, most notably Bob McDougall, George Cloy and David Mathieson.
- David MacMyn, Scottish rugby international, was from Kirkcudbright as was Ellis Cooper-Frater's family.
- Gary Lewis actor, Gangs of New York, Billy Elliot, etc. lives in Kirkcudbright.
- T E Lawrence, lived in infancy with his family between 1889 and 1891 in Craigville, St Mary's Street. His brother William George was born here in 1889. In 1891 the family moved to France.
Cinema and literature
The whodunit Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers involves the artistic community of Kirkcudbright. In 1975, the book was made into a BBC TV film shot in the town, with Ian Carmichael playing the lead role of Lord Peter Wimsey.
The band Betrayal, which comprised Kirkcudbright musician Stephen Milligan (lead guitar), Mervin Macklin (rhythm guitar) and Stephen McClelland (keyboards), as well as Andrew Black (bass), Blue (vocals) and Marty (drums) released an album "Rattlesnake Waltz" on Liverpool's Probe Plus records in 1987. As reviewed in Q magazine at the time as "This seven-piece outfit from Galloway make their album debut with a strange brew containing a healthy dash of speed metal and a fistful of disparate elements taken from early Genesis, The lovin' Spoonful, Led Zeppelin, and The Skids. On paper this might seem unworkable but in reality it adds up to a highly individual sound, with tracks like Made, Dead Man's Hand and No Big Thing - where Sue Dring's soaring vocals form an attractive contrast to Steve McClelland's manic synthesizer-providing the high spots. The only obvious drawback to this formula is that by utilising such an unusual variety of influences the band may be limiting their appeal to lovers of the eccentric . . . ."
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