Whitekirk and Tyninghame

Whitekirk and Tyninghame

infobox UK place
country = Scotland
official_name= Whitekirk
map_type= Scotland
population =
os_grid_reference= NT610791
unitary_scotland= East Lothian
lieutenancy_scotland= East Lothian
constituency_westminster= East Lothian
constituency_scottish_parliament= East Lothian
post_town= Dunbar
postcode_district = EH42
postcode_area= EH
dial_code= 01620 870xxx

Tyninghame and Whitekirk is a civil parish, centred on two small settlements in East Lothian, Scotland.


Whitekirk is convert|4|mi|km|abbr=on from North Berwick, convert|8|mi|km|abbr=on from Dunbar and convert|25|mi|km|abbr=on east of Edinburgh. A place of Christian worship from the earliest times and known in _an. Hwīt Cirice, having a holy well, now lost, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, and a famous statue, likewise dedicated and known as "Our Lady of Haddington". It was on the pilgrim's route from St Andrews to Santiago de Compostela and described as a stopping point in the "Iter pro peregrinis ad Compostellam.", Book V of the Codex Calixtinus.

The shrine of Our Lady at Whitekirk was desecrated by the armies of Edward III of England in 1356, a period that would become known as the Burnt Candlemas. Later in the 14th century, the shrine of our lady was reconsecrated at the newly built Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Haddington. Whitekirk continued to be a place of pilgrimage, however, receiving visits from the future Pope Pius II and Kings James IV and James V.

In early 1435, Aeneas Piccolomini (Pope Pius II) was travelling to Scotland on a diplomatic mission as Papal legate, when his ship was beset by storms. After giving prayers to Our Lady, the ship and its crew made port safely at Dunbar, and having promised to walk barefoot to the nearest shrine to the virgin, Piccolomini set out for Whitekirk. The eight miles through the frozen countryside left him with rheumatism that he would complain about for the rest of his life.

The Covenanting preacher John Blackadder gave his last conventicle on the hill behind the Church in 1678.

The Holy Well dried up in the 19th Century following agricultural drainage, but is thought to be located not far from the church building.

The current Church was last restored in 2005-6, although dramatic events in 1914 saw the Church set on fire,allegedly by Suffragette campaigners, although this has not been proven. The Kirk was restored by the office of Sir Robert Lorimer.

Whitekirk derives its name from the original, pre Suffragette colour of the Kirk: White, and was once known as 'Hamer' or the greater Ham. The Church is now the red of its underlying sandstone.

=Whitekirk Pilgr

On the 2nd Saturday of May, every year since 1971, there is an ecumenical pilgrimage that starts at Whitekirk and finishes in Haddington. Originally started by the Patrick Maitland the 17th Earl of Lauderdale, the numbers attending have risen from 30 people in the early seventies to over 2000. In 2008, the pilgrimage was cancelled due to lack of numbers, but it is hoped that the pilgrimage will return in 2009.


Tyninghame is an ancient parish that was joined to Whitekirk in 1761. The name is Northumbrian _an. Tinangehām, and means "Hamlet on the Tyne". The original church at Tyninghame was founded by Saint Baldred [ Hannan, Thomas, FSA (Scot)., "Famous Scottish Houses", London, 1928: 181] an Anchorite described as the "Apostle of the Lothians". In 941 AD, the church and village of Tyninghame was destroyed by Anlaf the Dane.

The oldest extant records give the superiors of the lands of Tyninghame as the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews, doubtless because of its connexions with Saint Baldred. From at least the end of the 11th century the lands were occupied by the Lauder of The Bass family, and in 1628 passed to the Earl of Haddington. In June 1617 the Lauders are recorded as being the patrons of the church there, and the Session Book records that they provided for the new sacramental vessels for communion that year: "Suma of money to be payit be the Ladie Bass, six scor pundis, ane pund, five s." Relations between The Church and the local patrons were not always good and it is recorded on February 4, 1621, that a fine was paid: "Given be the Ladie Bass for penaltie of her servand quha brak ye Sabbothe, 18s". [ Stewart-Smith, J., "The Grange of St. Giles", Edinburgh, 1898: 203 - 227, 'The Lauders of Tyninghame']

In 1761 the Earl of Haddington moved Tyninghame village from its original position, to the west of the policies of Tyninghame House to make way for landscaped parkland.

Tyninghame House

Exactly how old the original house was is difficult to say; but there was a manor on the lands in 1094 when it was owned by the Lauder of The Bass family. In the 13th century the Bishops of St. Andrews used the Tower house as a country retreat, possibly a concession written into the feudal terms and conditions to the Lauders. In 1617 the Dowager Lady Bass, Isabella Hepburn (widow of George Lauder of The Bass (d.1611)) made additions to it, [ Hannan, Thomas, 1928: 182] when it was described as "an 'L'-plan castle with walls up to seven feet thick". [ Knight Frank & Rutley, Edinburgh, 1987, pamphlet offering apartments in the house for sale.] In 1628 when Thomas Hamilton, 1st Earl of Haddington received that title in exchange for that of Earl of Melrose he acquired Tyninghame by purchase. In 1791 Charles, the 8th Earl, renovated it. [ Hannan, Thomas, 1928: 182]

In 1829 the Thomas Hamilton, 9th Earl of Haddington employed William Burn to greatly enlarge and make a fresh and new appearance to the mansion with a facing of red stone, which completely subsumed the original house in the principal wings. [ Knight, Frank, & Rutley, 1987] It lies adjacent to the site of the original village, and within the gardens can be seen the remains of St. Baldred's church.

The house, a listed building Grade 'A', was featured in "Country Life" on August 7, 1975, and in "Scottish Field" magazine in August 1953. It was sold in 1987 following the death of the 12th Earl of Haddington the previous year, the succeeding Earl residing at his other estate of Mellerstain in Berwickshire, Scottish Borders. The bulk of the contents were sold in a two day sale at the house, 28/29 September 1987 by Sotheby's. [ Sotheby's, "The Contents of Tyninghame, East Lothian", London, 1987] The house was then divided into apartments by Kit Martin which were privately sold.




F. H. Groome, "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland". Edinburgh 1883

External links

* [http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.details_gis?inumlink=56697] Details of Our Lady's Well, Whitekirk-now lost
* [http://www.haddingtoncc.org.uk/whitek.htm] Whitekirk Pilgrimage.

ee also

*List of places in East Lothian

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