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Haddington, East Lothian facts for kids

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A view of Haddington
Population 9,944 
OS grid reference NT511739
Civil parish
  • Haddington
Council area
Lieutenancy area
  • East Lothian
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district EH41
Dialling code 01620
Police Lothian and Borders
Fire Lothian and Borders
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
  • East Lothian
Scottish Parliament
  • East Lothian
List of places
Coordinates: 55°57′29″N 2°46′26″W / 55.958°N 2.774°W / 55.958; -2.774

The Royal Burgh of Haddington (Scots: Haidintoun) is a town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is the main administrative, cultural and geographical centre for East Lothian, which as a result of late 19th century Scottish local government reforms, actually took the form of the county of Haddingtonshire for the period from 1889 to 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 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), 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.

Nearby landmarks

Haddington nungate bridge
Nungate Bridge, Haddington

Amisfield House was located east of Haddington, south of the River Tyne. Designed by architect Isaac Ware 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.

St Mary's Collegiate Church

St. Mary's Kirk, Haddington
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. 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 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.

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 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. 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. 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.

Historical timeline

Alexander II (Alba) ii
Seal of Alexander II
St Martin's Kirk, Haddington 03
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.
  • 1198 – King 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.
  • 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.

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