The East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society had their third summer programme visit on Saturday 6 August 2016. Members received a very warm and enthusiastic welcome from the owners of Monkton House, Old Craighall, near Musselburgh.
Over three decades Dr Zoe and Mr Michael Bennett-Levy have lovingly restored this fascinating building. Dividing into two groups the attendees were taken on in-depth tours covering both the external grounds and the house. We heard that the “A” listed Monkton House was built around 1680 and is L-plan in shape. However its core is much earlier, the lower levels incorporating an old tower (Craighall Castle) which dates to some time before the 16th century. It is believed that the tower was used as a safe house for the monks of Newbattle Abbey. It is set in 3 acres of landscaped grounds with about 100 species of specimen trees. Externally it features fret-worked stone quoins at the corners and is of fine proportions. Internally significant amounts of paneling, fireplaces, cornices are retained. Every room visited had a unique character. Monkton House originally belonged to the Cistercian monks of Newbattle Abbey, but was passed to the Hays of Yester following the Reformation. It later passed to the Falconers and then to the Hopes of Pinkie who used it as the Dower House of Pinkie House.
The event, thoroughly enjoyed by all, was rounded off over coffee, tea and cakes. A final “thank you” appreciation was led by member Ian Hardie.
The next East Lothian “Antiquarians” visit will be to Penicuick House gardens on Saturday 10 September 2016