Visit Haddington and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Haddington, East Lothian. Because of its red sandstone, the abbey (now partly ruined as a result of the English wars, but restored and carefully tended) was known in the Middle Ages as the “Lamp of the Lothians”. Today, some would give this title back to the county town of East Lothian or, as it was once called, Haddingtonshire. This is because the energy of its civic authorities has made the little town pre-eminent among Scottish Lowland burghs. It is an energy that at once guards, furbishes, and keeps alive the place's considerable architectural legacy from the past, yet plays its part in the economy of modern Scotland.
In the years just before the war, no visitor of sensibility could have failed to enjoy Haddington's spacious High Street and Market Street, its gracious l8th century architecture, and its romantic remains from an earlier age. The enfeebling word “picturesque”, which would have flitted through the mind, might also have made him believe that here was an old market town and county centre that, because of its nearness to Edinburgh, was falling gently into desuetude. He would not believe that now.
After the last war, however, and particularly in the late 1950s, Haddington by its own civic effort pulled itself up by its own boot-straps; and, if it is not straining the metaphor too far, pulled itself up in two directions.
First, by rehabilitation, and the generous use of colour and decoration, it has made the older buildings of the town really live again. Citizens who may have grown up to think of their town as little more than a pleasing museum-piece “on the way out” suddenly found it a valuable living property of which they could justly be proud. People came from other parts of Scotland to see and admire the fine Adam buildings of Haddington, and those by earlier and humbler architects, not as relics, but as things that were in vigorous use. We have much for which we should be grateful to the Civic Trust in this matter.
The other direction in which Haddington applied the upward pull was to align herself in the economy of the changing scene in modern Scotland. In 1958, Haddington was the very first burgh, or indeed place, in Scotland to offer itself as a host to families from Glasgow under what has come to be known as the Over-spill Agreement. By this agreement with a town very different from her and 57 miles to the West of her, Haddington took in 178 families from Glasgow — families that were feeling the brunt of unemployment in heavy industry and of the lack of housing. Before any of the New Towns of the late 1950s and early '60s had been built to cope with Glasgow's overspill, this ancient and handsome burgh had taken the first step in practical hospitality. She has had her reward in the infusion of new blood, and of the use of hands, in small industries more suitable to Haddington than to Glasgow. Haddington has also built houses on its periphery for these newcomers, but has been careful to keep them consonant with the older buildings while not falling into the trap of pastiche.
At the risk of seeming to overpraise, one may say that what is so heartening in Haddington to those who come for Scotland's past as well as her present is this: the county town of this rich agricultural land of East Lothian, so near to Edinburgh, has shown that it is possible not only to preserve the visible signs of the past but at the same time to keep them living, to make plans for Haddington's position in the future Scotland.
Haddington has had a pretty stormy past, on which we need not dwell, during the English wars. Its position in the direct path of the invaders made it particularly vulnerable. Save for the damaged abbey, now joined to the parish kirk, there is little visible sign left of this repeated violation. After the Union, and when Haddington was safe, it developed into a residential town of standing both as the capital of Haddingtonshire and as a stopping place on the London—Edinburgh route. Readers of Smollett's Humphrey Clinker may recall his lively description of life in Haddington in the mid-l8th century.
As Nash is associated with Bath, Adam is with Haddington. He designed the fine Town House, later to be enlarged by Gillespie Graham, the architect of Edinburgh's Moray Place. He was also responsible for a good many houses in the spacious central street. Three of them are now banks, but the best is that delightful, miniature piece of domestic Georgian building, the Bank of Scotland. Wandering around the streets, wynds, and closes, one can note the lively, almost stage-scene, setting of Haddington's revived prosperity.
Haddington's past is associated with various famous people. The medieval philosopher Duns Scotus taught here. A very different theologian, John Knox, is said to have been born in Haddington; and Jane Welsh Carlyle — the wife of Thomas Carlyle, yet worthy of fame on her own merits — was also a native of Haddington. She is buried in the abbey grounds, and her birthplace has been restored and preserved.
Nearby towns: Dunbar, East Linton, North Berwick, Tranent
Nearby villages: Aberlady, Athelstaneford, Auldhame, Ballencrieff, Bolton, Borthwick, Cockenzie, Dirleton, Drem, East Fortune, East Saltoun, Elphinstone, Fala, Fenton Barns, Garvald, Gifford, Glenkinchie, Gullane, Humbie, Kingston, Longniddry, Luffness, Macmerry, North Middleton, Ormiston, Pathhead, Pencaitland, Port Seton, Prestonpans, Scoughall, Stenton, Wallyford, West Barns, West Saltoun, Whitecraig, Whittingehame
Have you decided to visit Haddington or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Haddington bed and breakfast (a Haddington B&B or Haddington b and b)
- a Haddington guesthouse
- a Haddington hotel (or motel)
- a Haddington self-catering establishment, or
- other Haddington accommodation