The eighty eighth annual meeting of the Society was held in Athelstaneford Parish Church on Saturday 26th May 2012. Nineteen members were welcomed by the President. There were several apologies. The president gave a brief resume of the history of the church and the significance of Athelstaneford in the history of Scotland. He spoke briefly about the career of Sir John Hepburn the founder of the Royal Scots and touched on the history of the Saltire Flag.
Obituary Notices; The president paid tribute to Stuart Maxwell and Robin Forster who had died in the course of the year.
The minutes of the previous years meeting were approved.
The annual report for the previous year which had been circulated was accepted.
Mrs Dodd presented the accounts and the financial report was approved. She reported that the society was facing rising costs and steps were being taken to reduce expenditure. This situation meant that the next volume of the transactions would not appear until 2013, but work on the next volume was in hand. The president thanked Mrs Dodd for her work on behalf of the society and also Mr John Sparksman, the external examiner.
Elections The Dowager Countess of Wemyss and March was elected as a Vice President, Stephen Bunyan, President and Sir Hew Hamilton- Dalyrmple Bt GCVO, Vice President were re-elected The following were also re-elected; Mrs Joy Dodd as Hon Treasurer, Miss Sheila Millar as Hon Librarian Mr John Hunt as Hon. Field Naturalist Adviser, Mr Chris Tabraham as Hon Editor of the Transactions and Simon Boak as Website advisor. Diana Buchan a new member of council agreed to be Minute Secretary for the coming year. Allison Cosgove had indicated that she wished to resign as Secretary, but remain on the Council. The chairman paid tribute to her contribution to the life of the Society over many years and noted that she wished to remain a member of Council.
There was no nomination for the office of Hon Secretary or Press Officer and these posts remained vacant. In addition to those mentioned Jacquie Bell and Shena Jamieson were elected as members of council. The other members of council are David Affleck, Bill Dodd, Ian Hardie, Bridget Elwood, Vicky Fletcher, and Judith Priest. Mr John Sparksman was re-appointed as Financial advisor.
At the conclusion of the meeting, after tea, a talk was given by David Williamson of the Flag Heritage Centre Trust about the origins and history of the Saltire Flag. Members then looked round the church, the Doocot and the churchyard.
Cousland. On Saturday 30th June the society visited Cousland. David Connolly of British Archaeological Resources had given a most interesting talk at the annual dinner in April on Cousland using a mixture of archaeological evidence, history and folklore to build up a fascinating picture of this largely lost village. This was a follow up visit, and members had an opportunity to explore the locations which he had talked about. The group was welcomed by David Connolly and by Sheena Irving on behalf of Cousland Smiddy Trust. They found the working Smiddy fascinating and enjoyed tea in the hall.
Colstoun. The society was to have visited Colstoun on 7th July but this had to be postponed because of flooding. The visit took place on 21st July.
The group was welcomed by Ludovic Broun Lyndsay, whose grandmother Edith, Lady Broun Lyndsay was a former president of the society. The party divided into two groups. One was led round the mansion house by Ludovic, who outlined its history and that of his family and showed the wonderful collection of furniture and family memorabilia. It was interesting to see how the building had been reduced in size to meet modern needs.
Cameron Sinclair Parry led the other group through the garden ground and policies to show how the Colstoun Company led by him and Freddie Macnamara are carrying out various enterprises to meet the challenge of the present day. The two groups met for tea and Ludovic expanded further on the history of the family.
Mellerstain. On Sunday 5th August members of the society braved torrential rain to visit Mellerstain. The group was welcomed by the Earl of Haddington, a member of the society, who gave a brief introduction to the history of the house and his family. The house was built by William and Robert Adam and with its collection of original furniture is one of Adam’s finest creations. It is set in wonderful landscape which was further developed by Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1910. The rain having abated it was possible to enjoy the vista from the terrace garden.
Inveresk. On Saturday22nd September the society were taken on a guided tour of Inveresk by Stephen Edwards This was a most enjoyable tour of this delightful village with both Roman remains and a wealth of historic largely 18th century properties.
The group was entertained to tea at Rose Court by Mr & Mrs George Burnet
Luffness. The final outing of the season was to Luffness on the 13th October by invitation of Mr & Mrs George Hope. Luffness now an impressive mansion house was an important castle in the middle ages when it was seen as the key to Haddington
The tower house built in the 16th century by the Hepburns was enlarged on several occasions for the Hopes after 1739. Over tea Mr Hope gave an interesting summary of its history and led the party round the principal rooms where they were able to admire fine furniture and memorabilia. At the conclusion members were able to walk in the grounds.
Lectures. Three lectures were given in the course of the winter.
‘Concentrating on winning the war- A land girl’s tale’. On 6th November Mona Lewis McLeod gave a fascinating talk on her experiences. It was clear that this was a difficult and often lonely experience. She highlighted the scandal that proper recognition was not given until the granting of a medal in 2007.
“Gullane Old Church”. The second lecture on 7th February was given by Bill Nimmo on the Restoration of the ruins of Gullane Old church. Members were impressed by this account of the background and problems involved in this important project which has done so much to conserve this important part of our heritage,
“Recent archaeology in East Lothian”. The third lecture on 5th March was by Andrew Robertson, County Archaeologist. Members were impressed by the wide rang of projects being undertaken; some short notice rescue projects some ongoing work and some involving young people and primary school children.
The Annual Dinner was held on the 5th April when Dr Elizabeth Scott the author of The Best Soldier, The Life of Sir John Hepburn ,Marshall of France ,Founder of the Royal Scots c 1598-1636 gave a fascinating talk entitled ‘Local Hero Scotland’s only Marshal of France’.
She outlined his career from a difficult childhood in Athelstaneford,his success at St Andrews and his remarkable military career in Europe in the French Royal guard, in the thirty years war where he was Knighted by Gustavus Adolphus, came back to Britain where in 1633he was authorised to raise a regiment for France which he named the Royal Scots. In France he was eventually promoted Marshal de camp and ultimately Marshal of France.He was shot at Savergne in 1636
Transactions Volume xxix is complete and will be available at the AGM
We are grateful to contributors and to Chris Tabraham for his tremendous efforts in bringing it all together
Programme The Council has considered a programme for the coming season which will be produced at the AGM.
The President remains a trustee of the Lamp of Lothian in a personal capacity.
The President represents the Society on the John Muir Park advisory group which he chairs.
The President represents the Society on the Laws advisory group.
Mr J Hunt represents the Society on the Aberlady Bay advisory group.
The Society is represented on the East Lothian Heritage Forum.
The Society is vigilant in the face of threats to our heritage of buildings and landscape.
Membership of the society is steady. An encouraging number of new members have joined in the course of the year. The transactions are held in high regard. They are lodged in the copyright libraries and are purchased by academic and other libraries. They are issued to Queen Margaret University, Secondary Schools in East Lothian and to Loretto and Belhaven Hill School. Information about the society has been put on the web and in a number of international directories. Enquiries about the Society and about East Lothian continue to be received.
SAB 23 /04/13