Haddington, East Lothian

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Scots: Haidintoun
A view of Haddington
Haddington is located in East Lothian
 Haddington shown within East Lothian
Population 9,944 
OS grid reference NT511739
Civil parish Haddington
Council area East Lothian
Lieutenancy area East Lothian
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district EH41
Dialling code 01620
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament East Lothian
Scottish Parliament East Lothian
List of places

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The Royal Burgh of Haddington (Scots: Haidintoun [1]) is a town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is the main administrative, cultural and geographical centre for East Lothian, which was known officially as Haddingtonshire before 1921. It lies about 20 miles (32 km) east of Edinburgh. The name Haddington is Anglo-Saxon, dating from the 6th or 7th century AD[2] when the area was incorporated into the kingdom of Bernicia. The town, like the rest of the Lothian region, was ceded by King Edgar of England and became part of Scotland in the 10th century. Haddington received burghal status, one of the earliest to do so, during the reign of David I (1124–1153),[3] giving it trading rights which encouraged its growth into a market town.

Today Haddington is a small town with a population of less than 9,000, although during the High Middle Ages it was the fourth biggest city in Scotland after Aberdeen, Roxburgh and Edinburgh. In the middle of the town is the Town House, built in 1748 according to a plan by William Adam. When first built, it inheld a council chamber, jail and sheriff court, to which assembly rooms were added in 1788, and a new clock in 1835. Nearby is the Corn Exchange (1854) and the County Courthouse (1833). Other nearby notable sites include the Jane Welsh Carlyle House, and Mitchell's Close.


Haddington is located predominantly on the north-east bank of the River Tyne, and was once famous for its mills. It developed into the fourth largest town in Scotland during the High Middle Ages, and latterly was at the centre of the mid-18th century Scottish Agricultural Revolution.

In 1641 an Act was passed by the Parliament of Scotland to encourage the production of fine cloth, and in 1645 an amendment went through stating that the masters and workers of manufactories would be exempt from military service. As a result of this, more factories were established; these included the New Mills. This factory suffered during the Civil War with the loss of its cloth to General Monck. A new charter was drawn up in May 1681, and major capital invested in new machinery, but the New Mills had mixed fortunes, inevitably affected by the lack of protectionism for Scottish manufactured cloth. The Scots Courant reported in 1712 that New Mills was to be 'rouped' (auctioned). The property was sold on 16 February 1713 and the machinery and plant on 20 March. The lands of New Mills were purchased by Colonel Francis Charteris and he changed their name to Amisfield.

As the county town of East Lothian Haddington is the seat of East Lothian Council, with offices located at John Muir House behind Court Street. This building occupies the site of Haddington's 12th century royal palace & adjoins the sheriff court complex. As such Haddington is the home to East Lothian's administration, a boost to the status and local economy of the town. Retailers based in Haddington include Tesco, Subway, Boots (the chemist), and Greggs (the baker), amongst others. Besides retail and administration, the town is also home to various lawyers' firms and has industrial capacity in the works beside the Tyne at the Victoria Bridge (PureMalt), and around the site of the old station - Lemac, and various smaller industrial units and garages. Haddington is also home to the offices of the local newspaper the East Lothian Courier. There is a farmers market held on the last Saturday of the month in Court Street.

Nearby landmarks

Nungate Bridge, Haddington

Amisfield House was located east of Haddington, south of the River Tyne. Designed by architect Isaac Ware[4] and built of Garvald red freestone for Colonel Francis Charteris, it was described in The Buildings of Scotland as "the most important building of the orthodox Palladian school in Scotland." John Henderson built the walled garden in 1783, and the castellated stable block in 1785. The park in front of the house, possibly landscaped by James Bowie, is today entirely ploughed. A victim of dry rot, the house was demolished in 1928.

All that remains of Amisfield today are the summer house, walled garden, ice house, chapel, and gates.

Lennoxlove House, a historic 13th-century house and estate, lies half a mile south of Haddington. Built by the Giffards of Yester, it was originally named Lethington. It was once home to the Maitland family, notably Sir Richard Maitland, and his son William Maitland of Lethington, Secretary of State to Mary, Queen of Scots'. The Maitlands left Lennoxlove in the 17th century, and it is now the seat of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon.

The world's earliest surviving records of a lodge of free gardeners come from Haddington, in 1676.[5]

St Mary's Collegiate Church

St Mary's Collegiate Church, Haddington

The Parish Church of St Mary's is today part of the Church of Scotland, but includes an Episcopalian chapel, the Lauderdale Aisle, containing the mausoleum of the Maitland Earls of Lauderdale. It is the longest parish church in Scotland and is in regular use for worship and musical events. It is directly adjacent to the river Tyne, beside the 12th century Nungate bridge.

The present building (built with red sandstone from nearby Garvald) was started in 1375 (an earlier St Mary's Church having been destroyed by the English in 1356), and consecrated in 1410, despite building work not being finished until 1487. The church was partially destroyed during the 1548-49 Siege of Haddington that followed the Rough Wooing of Henry VIII, and on the advice of John Knox, it was restored "frae the tower to the West door". Thus the nave became the church and the choir and transepts were left ruined until the whole church was restored in the 1970s. The Lammermuir pipe organ was built in 1990.

A set of eight bells hung for full change ringing was installed for the Millennium.

Hailes Castle

Hailes Castle is a mainly 14th-century castle about 5 miles south west of Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland. This castle, which has a fine riverside setting, belonged to the Hepburn family during the most important centuries of its existence. Since 1926, it has been the subject of a state-sponsored guardianship agreement, which is now under the auspices of Historic Scotland. It is open to the public without charge at all reasonable times.

Sport and leisure

Haddington is home to the junior football club Haddington Athletic and Haddington RFC, currently playing in Scotland Premiership Division Three.

At the end of March 2012 the town's library relocated to reconditioned premises in Lodge Street, the John Gray Centre. In addition to the lending library the Centre comprises East Lothian Council's Historical Archives, Local History Collections and Reading Room, a new museum of East Lothian (with a temporary exhibition gallery), a computer suite 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.


Polish 1st Armoured Division stationed at Haddington in 1943, in preparation for D-Day.

Haddington sits on the A1 dual-carriageway linking Edinburgh with London. The town is currently served by the bus companies First, Perrymans, Prentice Coaches, Eve Coaches and Lothian Country Buses. These buses allow travel to Edinburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and other towns and villages in East Lothian. With the withdrawal of many First Scotland East services in June 2012, the contracts for the 121 Haddington to North Berwick and the 123 Gifford Circle passed back to the Haddington- based firm Prentice Coaches. Haddington was served by a railway branch line which carried passengers from 1846 until 1949.[6]

The Railway

The Haddington railway line was a branch from the East Coast Main Line at Longniddry and terminated with a railway station and freight depot in the area between West Road and Hospital Road. The line was 4.8 miles in length[7] and had stations at Coatyburn Siding and Laverocklaw Siding before terminating in Haddington. The line was opened on 22 June 1846. The branch had only a single track, though bridges and embankments were built to allow for a double track. Passengers from Haddington were required to alight at Longniddry and change trains in order to travel to Edinburgh.

The Haddington branch line and station were damaged during the flood of 1948 and though both passenger and freight services were reinstated, British Rail opted to remove rail services to the public due to competition from bus services and dwindling passenger numbers. Passenger services ended on 29 December 1949. The use of the railway line for freight continued to March 1968.[8] The larger Victorian station building was demolished; a smaller older building, parts of the platform structure, and embankment walls remain. These are recognisable by their distinctive red-brick appearance, and can be seen from West Road, Somnerfield Court, and the industrial area south of Hospital Road.

The land occupied by Haddington's railway line is owned by East Lothian Council and is used by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders in the section of the line between Longniddry station and the St Lawrence area of Haddington. The eastern terminus of the line is occupied by industrial units and scrub vegetation. A campaign to reopen Haddington’s railway service is led by the group RAGES (Rail Action Group East of Scotland). Since the closure of the station in the 1940s (isolated as it then was at the western extremity of Haddington), the town has expanded significantly. Between 1951 and 1981 the population of the town grew by 54 per cent.[9] It remains to be seen whether further expansion of the town will lead to a reinstatement of Haddington's rail service, since there are congestion issues on both the East Coast Main Line and at Edinburgh Waverley railway station.

Twin town

Haddington is twinned with Aubigny-sur-Nère in France.[citation needed]

Historical timeline

Seal of Alexander II
St Martin's Kirk
  • Before 1139 - Haddington granted burgh charters, transferred to Ada de Warenne, as a marriage portion, by her father-in-law David I in that year.
  • 1178 – Cistercian abbey founded by Countess Ada. St Martin’s Kirk in the Nungate built around or before this year; the oldest standing building in Haddington today.
  • 1198King Alexander II of Scotland is born in Haddington
  • 1216 – Haddington is burnt by the English under King John. Scottish royal family vacate the Palace of Haddington.
  • 1242 - Murder of Padraig, Earl of Atholl following a tournament in the town, by members of Clan Bissett.
  • 1282 – First mention of a bridge spanning the Tyne.
  • 1297 - Haddington burnt by the retreating Scots army
  • 1356 - The town is sacked by the army of Edward III of England.
  • 1358 – Flood reportedly washes away the Nungate.
  • 1375 – Work begins on rebuilding St Mary’s – in Garvald red sandstone.
  • 1429 – King’s Wall surrounding town is mentioned. Implies early if not continuous fortification of the town.
  • 1462 – Work on the building of St Mary’s Church is completed.
  • 1548 – 7 July – Signing of the Treaty of Haddington. This was a treaty made during the English occupation of the town. The Scottish Parliament convened in the Abbey and agreed to transport Mary Queen of Scots to France for her marriage to the French heir.[10]
  • 1676 – The ‘Ancient Fraternity of Gardeners of East Lothian’ is established – the oldest such fraternity known.
  • 1688 – Rev. John Gray founds a town library.
  • 1748 – Haddington’s new Town Hall is built; to a design of William Adam
  • 1770 – Episcopal Church built in Church Street.
  • 1775 – 4 October – Tyne reportedly rises seventeen feet above its ordinary level.
  • 1817 – Building of the Waterloo Bridge near the Poldrate Mill. The foundation stone was laid on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, hence the naming of the bridge.
  • 1830 – Spire added to the tower of the Town Hall.
  • 1846 – 22 June – Haddington’s railway station opens to the public.
  • 1854 – Building of the Corn Exchange. This is reputedly the second largest Corn Exchange in Scotland, after Edinburgh.
  • 1862 – Catholic church of St Mary is built to a design of E. W. Pugin.
  • 1941– 3 March – German bombers damage town.
  • 1948 – 6 to 12 August – Flood damages town. Much of the town under water.
  • 1949 – 5 December – Closure of Haddington’s railway station to the public.
  • 1973 – Completion of the re-roofing of the choir & renovation of St Mary’s Church. This part of the church was damaged during the siege of Haddington (1547–1549) and left ruinous when the church was restored following the siege.

Notable people

John Knox statue on the former John Knox Institute, Haddington

Photo gallery



  1. Scots Language Centre: Scottish Place Names in Scots
  2. Book Jones, Charles (1997). The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language. Edinburgh University Press. p. 57. ISBN 0-7486-0754-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Book Gray, W. Forbes (1944). A Short History of Haddington. East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist’s Society. p. 1. ISBN 0-907590-54-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. The Country Houses, Castles and Mansions of East Lothian, by Sonia Baker ISBN 978-1-84033-457-9
  5. Article Origins of Gardener Societies at historyshelf.org. (accessed 18 March 2007)
  6. Book Hajducki, Andrew M. (1994). The Haddington, Macmerry and Gifford Branch Lines. Oakwood Press. p. 25 & 147. ISBN 0-85361-456-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Book Hajducki, Andrew M. (1994). The Haddington, Macmerry and Gifford Branch Lines. Oakwood Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-85361-456-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Book Hajducki, Andrew M. (1994). The Haddington, Macmerry and Gifford Branch Lines. Oakwood Press. pp. 171–2. ISBN 0-85361-456-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Book Baker, S. (2003). East Lothian Fourth Statistical Account 1945-2000, vol I. East Lothian Council Library Service. pp. 51–2. ISBN 1-897857-34-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Donaldson, Gordon, A Source Book of Scottish History, vol. 2, Thomas Nelson (1953), 135-6: Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. 2, (1814), 481-2: Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 Haddington Abbey, 7 July 1548


  • The Records of a Scottish Cloth Manufactory at New Mills, Haddingtonshire edited by W.R.Scott, M.A., Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1905.
  • The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Third Series, edited by P.Hume Brown, M.A.,LL.D., volume V, Edinburgh, 1912, p. 381.
  • Lost Houses of Scotland, by M.Binney, J.Harris, & E.Winnington, for 'Save Britain's Heritage', London, July 1980. ISBN 0-905978-05-6
  • Haddington: Royal Burgh - A History and a Guide, The Haddington History Society, published 1997 by Tuckwell Press Ltd., ISBN 1-86232-000-4
  • The Haddington, Macmerry and Gifford Branch Lines, by Andrew M. Hajducki, Oakwood Press, Oxford, 1994. ISBN 0-85361-456-3
  • A Short History of Haddington, by W. Forbes Gray & James H. Jamieson, East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist’s Society, first published 1944, published in a newer edition in 1986 by SPA books, Stevenage. ISBN 0-907590-54-3
  • The Country Houses and Mansions of East Lothian by Sonia Baker (2009) ISBN 978-1-84033-457-9

External links