The history of the estate of Keith Marischal has been a topic of dispute for almost two hundred and seventy years. On the 9th February 2019 there will be a joint presentation on the hidden histories of the property. Keith Marischal was the ancestral seat of the Keith family from at least the twelfth century. By the sixteenth century they were described as the richest earls in Scotland, their power centred on the famous Dunnottar Castle near Aberdeen. Keith Marischal remained symbolically important as their ancestry home and for its useful proximity to Edinburgh. The house and barony were sold due to the financial mismanagement of the seventh Earl Marischal in November 1642.
Dr Miles Kerr-Peterson will explore the history of the building over the centuries as the Keiths’ medieval tower developed into a grand Renaissance Palace before parts were gradually demolished. On one side of a courtyard once stood a great hall “which surpassed anything of the kind” 110 feet in extent and 3 stories in height, almost as long as the Great Hall of Stirling Castle. David Affleck, curator of the current Exhibition on The Last of the Hepburns of Smeaton will reveal the work done in the 19th C. to show that while the Hepburns had acquired the estate from the Keiths, the 17th Century Sir Robert Hepburn of Keith who died in 1683 was not descended from the Hepburn of Smeaton line. This is significant as there are families living in Australia who believe that they had an ancestral link with the Hepburns of Keith and through him, the earlier Smeaton line. In addition, the birth name of Sir Robert’s nephew was Congalton. He had adopted the surname of Hepburn as a requirement of his uncle’s will and became an active Jacobite in 1715. Accounts that the Hope family of Hopetoun had acquired Keith Marischal estate before 1715 can now be disproved.
Taken together, the hidden histories of the property and the ownership can now be revealed and will demonstrate the significance of the estate and its Keith and Hepburn owner in this part of East Lothian’s history.
The presentations are part of the winter lecture programme of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist’s Society and will be held at the Maitlandfield Hotel Haddington on Saturday 9th February at 2.30.
There are two outings planned in early Summer 2018:
- To Stenton Village on Saturday 9th June
- To Doon Hill on Saturday 7th July
A visit to Melville Castle Hotel was the final outing of the season. It was led by the president who gave a short summary of the history of the building. The estate was noted as far back as 1155 when it belonged to Galfrid de Malleville. In the 18th century it became the seat of Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville who was virtually ruler of Scotland until his death in 1811. The estate remained in the possession of the Dundas family until c1980. It is now a hotel where Members had tea and visited the restored main rooms.
After the Castle visit certain Members explored the forested grounds. The most notable tree is a majestic Spanish Chestnut which was planted some 450 years ago by a companion of Queen Marie Stuart, Seigneur David Rizzio as an act of friendship.
On Saturday 19 August 2017 the East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalists’ Society made its 4th Summer Programme visit to Torness Nuclear Power Station.
Members thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience finding the strict security procedures, technology and grand scale of operations most interesting.
The guide also alluded to a somewhat unexpected field naturalist aspect being the power station having been awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark by the Wildlife Trusts for its work in protecting and enhancing the unique and diverse wild life around its operation. Most of the Members were not aware of the Torness Coastal Walkway and on another occasion this may be explored.
The visit was rounded off with tea and biscuits provided by the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides.
The next Society visit will be to Keith Marischal House on Saturday 16 September.
Photo credit © EDF
East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society made a visit to Penicuik House and Estate on Saturday 10th September.
Penicuik House was destroyed by Fire in June 1899.When the Society last visited some years ago the house was still largely full of rubble and covered by vegetation.
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.
A party of Members and guests of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society visited Mertoun,near St. Boswells, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland on Saturday 2nd July. They were welcomed by the Duke who outlined the history of the house, which was originally built by Sir William Bruce for Sir William Scott of Harden between 1703-5 and of the art collection. He then conducted the party on a tour of the mansion house. At the conclusion of the tour refreshments were provided. The President thanked The Duke, the Duchess and their staff for what was a most memorable visit.
The East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist Society enjoyed a field trip to Pressmennan Wood on Saturday 4th June.
The Society visited Barony House, Lasswade on Sunday 11th October 2015. Members were met by the owners Mr and Mrs Davies, who kindly opened their home and garden. Stephen Davies led a tour of the house and garden and explained its rich history including especially its notable occupant Sir Walter Scott and his wife Charlotte.
Barony House originated as Lasswade Cottage, which was built in 1871 by John Clerk of Eldin House for his nephew. He was the seventh son of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. His brother-in-law was Robert Adam, the most notable architect of the day. John Clark was, among other achievements, a pioneer of the late 18th century romantic landscape movement and extended a smaller house into a “cottage-orne” with a thatched roof and bow-fronted living room. This unique house attracted the newly married Sir Walter Scot, who rented it in 1798 as a summer retreat. Scott and his wife spent six years there, entertaining his many admirers and friends including the Wordsworths and Thomas De Quincy. In 1804 Scott was appointed Sheriff Depute of Selkirkshire and moved away.
In 1865 the house was enlarged by the Clerk family as a dower house adding new gables and
Further extensive additions were made by the architect James Tait from 1913-1919.dormer windows in the Scottish Baronial style.
At the conclusion of the visit members were entertained to tea and spent some time enjoying the garden.
Thanks were expressed to Mr and Mrs Davies by the president.
An old postcard of “Lasswade Cottage”