At Home in Haddington

8th August 2022

In this article, Ian Philp from our Haddington office introduces the lovely market town, providing some fascinating history about Haddington and sharing some useful information about what makes Haddington such a great place to live in today.

Haddington is the one of the largest towns in East Lothian, but because of its rural location within agricultural country, it is also known as the ‘county town of East Lothian’. Indeed, unlike its coastal neighbours, it is often called ‘the hidden toun’ because of the way that it sits within its rural environment.

Haddington is a beautiful market town which is rich in history and with many attractions, making it both a lovely and desirable place to live. The town is located predominantly on the northeast bank of the River Tyne and was once famous for its mills. Today Haddington has a population of just over 10,000 but it was the fourth-largest town in Scotland during the early 1400’s (after Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen) and later was at the centre of the mid-eighteenth century Scottish Agricultural Revolution.

Agriculture has long been the basis for Haddington’s prosperity. Today people still enjoy taking part in the Haddington Farmers’ Market, which takes place on the last Saturday of every month. The town also hosts an annual agricultural and county show every summer, The Haddington Agricultural Show features the best the area has to offer and is an event that GSB are proud to have long associations with. Indeed, this annual agricultural show is one of the oldest in Scotland, dating back to 1804.

The successful growth of the town shows itself in some excellent architecture including the William Adam-designed 1748 Town House. St Mary’s Collegiate Church, which dates from the 14th century, is one of the three great pre-reformation churches in the Lothian’s. More familiarly called ‘the Lamp of Lothian’, it is also the largest parish church in Scotland. The church is home to the grave of Jane Carlyle, lady of letters and wife of the philosopher Thomas Carlyle. Nearby is the Corn Exchange (1854) and the county courthouse (1833).

A well-known Haddington landmark and one of Scotland’s oldest bridges, the present three-arch Nungate Bridge across the River Tyne dates from around 1550 and may have been constructed using stone from the redundant parts of nearby St Mary’s Church. In nearby Nungate, a certain Sean Connery could be found working at Stark’s (joiners and undertakers) in 1951-52.

Giffordgate in Haddington is also reputedly the birthplace of the famous ecclesiastical reformer John Knox in 1505. John Knox was probably born in Haddington and Knox Academy, the local high school, is named after him.

One mile from Haddington, Lennoxlove House is a stately home belonging to the Duke of Hamilton, also has associations with Mary Queen of Scots and boasts an excellent art collection.

The town’s library is in the John Gray Centre in Lodge Street, an extensively reconstructed and restored complex of historic buildings including the town’s former granary. In addition to the lending library the Centre comprises East Lothian Council’s Historical Archives, Local History Collections and Reading Room, a museum of East Lothian and community room. The Centre is named after a local minister whose bequest of books and money in 1717 gave the town one of the earliest community libraries in Scotland.

Aubigny Sports Centre in Haddington offers a variety of sports, fitness and recreational activities. With swimming pool, Health Suite with sauna and steam room, a workout in the gym, badminton courts, fitness classes, pitches and dance studio, then refuel at the onsite cafe.

On the outskirts of Haddington, Amisfield Walled Garden dates from the late 18th century. It is one of the largest walled gardens in Scotland with extensive herbaceous borders, fruit and vegetable beds, wildflower meadow, orchard and woodland plantings. Amisfield is a community garden managed by the Amisfield Preservation Trust and a large band of volunteers. It provides a venue for education and training for people of all abilities. The garden is becoming increasingly popular as a visitor destination.

Haddington does not have a train station but it has excellent transport links, the town sits just 1 km south of the A1 dual carriageway linking Edinburgh to London. The nearest rail station is at Drem, 6 km to the north, which is served by regular Edinburgh to North Berwick trains.

Haddington has three primary schools including an independent primary school and nursery and Knox Academy, the town’s secondary school.

Tags: , ,

Categorised in: