Haddington East Lothian
Haddington one of Scotland's Oldest Towns
The picturesque little Royal Burgh town of Haddington (Scots, Haidintoun) lies on the Great North Road (the new A1), sixteen miles to the east of Scotland Capital Edinburgh. Its position has through history meant it has served as a gateway to the Capital and to central Scotland. This has placed it in the path of more than one of the many marauding armies to have trodden this route over the past thousand years.
Haddington's origins lie very early in history and there was certainly a sizable settlement here by 1000. In the 1100s David I made it a Royal Burgh and the county town of Haddingtonshire. 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. From 1139 there was a Franciscan church here, and Ada of Northumberland established a nunnery a little to the east in about 1155. A remnant of the nunnery property survives in the shape of the ruin of St Martin' Kirk. A friary and a royal castle were established during the 1200s.
The 1300s saw the town suffer repeatedly from the attentions of English armies and in 1358 the River Tyne flooded much of Haddington and washed part of it away. Despite all this Haddington continued to grow in size and influence. Through its port at Aberlady, five miles to the north, it established important trade links with northern European ports.
The 1400s saw the completion of St Mary’s Church, the largest parish church in Scotland. This replaced an earlier church of the Grey Friars. This had been known as the Lamp of Lothian, and was destroyed by the English in 1356. But there were more setbacks in the 1500s and in 1548 another English army was in control of the town.
Though always on the main road to Edinburgh, Haddington was bypassed when the railways came to Scotland. It ended up being served by a branch line from about 1850 to 1968. The only evidence of this today is the Railway Hotel, at the western end of Court Street.
The centre of Haddington is built attractively around the core of High Street and Market Street. This gives two wide parallel market areas, separated by buildings and a warren of wynds and lanes. The mercat cross is in High Street and the two streets come together at their western end on either side of the Town House. This was built in 1742 with some of the textile wealth then starting to flow into the town, and its spire dominates many views of Haddington. It continues to be used today by East Lothian Council.
To the west of the Town House is Court Street. Here the wide street and grand buildings contrast strikingly with the earlier pattern of building evident in High Street and Market Street. The main council offices have broad pavements in front of them, decorated with fountains and statues. On the north side of Court Street is a collection of very fine buildings housing banks. Here, too, is Haddington's post office. This can trace its history back to 1603 when it was one of the very first post offices in Scotland, servicing the mail between the newly unified capitals of Edinburgh and London.
Maitlandfield House is a unique three star hotel in East Lothian, in one of Scotland's most picturesque and historic towns, Haddington. One of only 50 towns in Great Britain to merit the prestigious Council of Archaeology Stamp of Preservation Approval.
Haddington has no less than 284 listed buildings making it one of the best preserved 18th century towns in the country.
East Lothian Area, Towns and Villages:
Dunbar, North Berwick, Whitekirk, Aberlady, Musselburgh, Tranent, Prestonpans, Macmerry and East Linton
- FROM THE SOUTH ON M74: On the M74 to Abington take the A702 until you reach the A720 City Bypass follow the A1 for approximate 12 miles till you reach the Abbotsview Junction to Haddington. Follow the A6093 into Haddington through two roundabouts. Follow St Mary’s on brown tourist signs. Follow the A6093 until you reach the Maitlandfield House on the right hand side directly opposite St Mary’s Church.
- FROM THE SOUTH ON THE A1: Drive on the A1 from the south until you reach the turn off to Haddington. Follow the A6093 into Haddington Town Centre. Follow St Mary’ s brown signs. Follow the A6093 until you reach Maitlandfield House on the right hand side directly opposite St Mary’s Church.
- FROM EDINBURGH AIRPORT: Take the City Bypass A720 south of Edinburgh to the A1 going south. Exit A1 at Abbotsview junction and follow signage into Haddington where Maitlandfield House is found opposite St. Mary's Church. Haddington is just 30 minutes' drive from the airport.
- FROM THE NORTH: Cross over the Forth Road Bridge, take the City bypass south meeting the A1. Exit A1 at Abbotsview junction and follow signage into Haddington where Maitlandfield House is found opposite St Mary's Church. Haddington is 40 minutes' drive from the Forth Road Bridge.
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