The Society and Haddington House

Haddington House has just undergone extensive refurbishment and restoration and is now available as offices for local businesses and will provide useful income for the Lamp of Lothian Trust.

The Society was concerned about the state of the House as far back as 1942. They attempted to secure its future but did not have the resources to do so. They were however able to do so because the Earl of Wemyss became involved. He supported the Society until his death but his main contribution to the affairs of the Society was, to make it possible for them to realise the ambition of securing the future of Haddington House.

In 1948 an option to purchase for £1500 was given to the Society. This was beyond its means, but various possibilities were discussed. In December that year the Earl of Wemyss offered to put up the money on behalf of the Wemyss and March landed estates and to purchase the house until the society could raise the money. This was done but, problems remained. The house had a tenant and it needed frequent expensive repairs. A complicated arrangement was made in 1965 and part of the garden was sold to the Haddington Cottage Society for Incapacitated people and an arrangement was made to involve the National Trust with the Society. At this stage the tenant died. Before the plan was put into place, an agreement was reached, in 1966, with the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton to sell the house and part of the garden to the Hamilton and Kinneil estates to form part of The Lamp of Lothian Project. This sale was concluded in 1967. The House became the Headquarters of the Lamp of Lothian Trust and a separate Garden Trust was set up.

The Society continued to have some interest in the House and was consulted on its restoration. It continued to have a room there as a base until the Lamp found it had to vacate the building. The Society provided one trustee. Lady Broun Lindsay of Colstoun was the trustee until her death. I succeeded her in February 1983. I retired in 2014 when a new arrangement was set up and it was agreed that the Society would no longer have a designated trustee. The Duke of Hamilton agreed to keep our interests in mind. We retained the right to have meetings in the Elizabeth Hamilton Buildings.

The Council of the society is glad that the Lamp of Lothian Trust has retained and refurbished the building and wishes it every success.

Stephen Bunyan
President East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society.
05 March 2020