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City of Culture: Six things you might not know about Paisley

Downton Abbey, witch trials and Royal fashion? They can all be found in Paisley.

Paisley: The only place in Scotland nominated.
Paisley: The only place in Scotland nominated. Google

Paisley holds the honour of being the only Scottish town shortlisted for the 2021 City of Culture.

Now in its third year, the UK City of Culture win helps boost the profile of some of the overlooked large towns and cities throughout the UK.

Winners can expect to host events such as awards ceremonies like the Turner Prize, Brit Awards, Man Booker Prize and the Stirling Prize.

It can inject a great deal of investment into cities, with the 2021 bid expected to create around 4700 jobs in the winning city.

Even if you live next door - or even in - the town, you may not know these facts about it.

It is the home town of a host of famous faces: Hollywood star Gerard Butler, and the tenth Dr Who David Tennant were brought up here. Singer Paolo Nutini, Sherlock writer Steven Moffat and actress Downton Abbey actress Phyllis Logan were all born in the town.

Born and raised: Singer Paolo Nutini is from Paisley.
Born and raised: Singer Paolo Nutini is from Paisley.

Paisley is home to the last mass execution for witchcraft in western Europe: The Paisley witches were seven locals condemned to death for the charge of witchcraft in 1697.

Eleven-year-old Christian Shaw, the privileged daughter of the Laird of Bargarran, complained of being tormented by some local witches, named as Margaret Lang, John Lindsay, James Lindsay, John Reid, Catherine Campbell, Margaret Fulton, and Agnes Naismith.

Witches: Bargarran House, home of Christian Shaw.
Witches: Bargarran House, home of Christian Shaw. Creative commons

One committed suicide in his prison cell and the other five were hanged and then burned on the Gallow Green on June 10, 1697.

Some believe the town is still cursed. At her trial, Agnes Naismith cast a spell, cursing everyone present at her trial and their descendants.

Twenty crimes per day are reported in Paisley: According to UK Crime Statistics, Paisley comes in at number ten on the highest crime rates in Scotland. The majority of reported crimes are minor, with drunk and disorderly behaviour being named as the top nuisance for residents. The number of major crimes reported has steadily been in decline.

The Paisley pattern was named after the town: Okay most people might know this one, but the original tear-drop design was actually from Persia.

The Paisley pattern we know today came from a local Paisley mill who began experimenting with up to 15 different colours in the weave - whereas the original Persian design contained only one or two colours.

The tear-drop design shot to popularity across Britain after a young Queen Victoria sported the pattern on a shawl. After that, it was the must have fashion item in the mid-19th century.

Burial: Marjorie Bruce was laid to rest in Paisley abbey.
Burial: Marjorie Bruce was laid to rest in Paisley abbey. PA

The House of Stewart started in Paisley: There is more than one Royal connection to Paisley - the last reign of the Scottish Royal families started here. Robert the Bruce's daughter, Marjorie - who is buried in Paisley Abbey - married Walter Stewart, part of a noble Paisley household. One of her most famous decedents is Mary, Queen of Scots. The Stewart family ruled Scotland until the union of the crowns, when James VI became James I of England.

The "Snail in the bottle" case happened here: Seen as one of the most important legal cases in current common law, the snail in the bottle led to the establishment of negligence.

Mrs Donoghue's friend purchased her a bottle of ginger beer in a café in Paisley, in 1932. Towards the end of her meal, as she poured out the remainder of the bottle into her glass, when a dead snail came tumbling out with it. Mrs Donoghue fell ill, spending time in hospital. On recovery, she sued the manufacturer Mr Stevenson.

The case was the first case of its kind, due to not holding a contract with Mr Stevenson - ie she did not buy the juice, but was still affected by the undue care.

Mrs Donoghue was the first to ever win such a case, setting judicial precedence which is still in existence today.

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