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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of East Lothian

by Peter Kessler, 10 June 2020

East Lothian Part 1: Churches of Haddington, Port Seton & Bass Rock

St Martin's Kirk, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland

St Martin's Kirk, Haddington, is on the eastern side of Bullet Loan, about fifty metres south of the junction with St Martin's Gate. The oldest standing building in Haddington today, albeit not fully intact, the church is thought to have been built in the early 1100s. It seemingly stands just within the western gateway of the precinct of St Mary's Cistercian Nunnery (founded about 1155, and therefore developed around the church), but which was ended by the Reformation.

Seton Collegiate Church, Port Seton, East Lothian, Scotland

Seton Collegiate Church, Port Seton, is on the north-east flank of Seton Castle, and to the north of the A198 road. Collegiate churches are so called because they housed a college, or community, of priests. The religious leaders would be brought together by the local landowner to pray for his and his family's salvation. Seton is one of the finest medieval collegiate churches to survive in Scotland. In this case the local landowner was Lord Seton, with the church serving his family.

Seton Collegiate Church, Port Seton, East Lothian, Scotland

It was the 1100s when this site was chosen for a new church to serve the parish. In the 1400s it was increasingly used as the private place of worship and burial vault for the local landowners, the Seton family. The first Lord Seton set up the college of priests in 1470, but the Reformation put paid to the church being used for masses for the souls of the Setons. For a while it was a parish kirk, but it fell out of use after Seton parish was merged with Tranent in 1580.

Chapel of St Baldred, Bas Rock, East Lothian, Scotland

The Chapel of St Baldred, Bass Rock, lies immediately to the north-west of the former castle at the southern end of the isle. After living a life of contemplation and austerity, St Baldred died on Bass Rock in March AD 606. A small, (probably) single cell chapel supposedly existed on the island, traditionally on this spot where this replacement chapel was erected much later, in the sixteenth century. It is a plain, rectangular stone construction measuring 9.3m long by 6.3m wide.

Chapel of St Baldred, Bas Rock, East Lothian, Scotland

The historical evidence suggests that the chapel was 'newly erected' in 1492. It was consecrated and dedicated to St Baldred as a parish church in 1542, possibly following a rebuild. Details of its existence are sketchy, but it is thought to have remained in use until the Reformation in the same century, after which it was abandoned. In 1677 the Bass garrison was using it as an ammunition store. There was a loft at the western end (the farther end here).

All photos on this page kindly contributed by Douglas Law via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group. Additional information by Douglas Law.



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