Beautiful, C14th riverside church of cathedral proportions. War-torn C16. Nave repaired, but E end, transepts, tower left roofless 400 yrs till all restored 1970s. Now whole again - longest parish church in Scotland. Carvings,windows. Shop.
A few minutes from Haddington town centre is the recently and remarkably restored, very fine C14 church of St Mary. Of cathedral proportions, it lies in a beautiful setting by the little River Tyne and near the old stone Nungate Bridge. Wide, sunny and grassy banks and the adjacent St Mary's Pleasance Garden make wonderful picnic settings. There is also the nearby Peter Potter Art Gallery and Cafe, and other eateries not far away.
St Mary's was war-torn in the C16 century during the 18 month Siege of Haddington. With only enough money to repair the nave, the rest of the church was left roofless (choir, transepts, tower). Much stonework was taken away but the remaining ruins were stabilised in the last century.
To house growing congregations, the nave has had many makeovers over the past 400yrs; raised arches and a lowered floor (C12 cemetery found beneath!) allowed enough height for lofts and galleries. Later donations of many excellent stained glass windows were donated in the C19 to the the mid C20.
At last, in the 1970s, with much fundraising and sponsorships, it was possible to restore the old ruins. So once again St Mary's is the longest parish church in Scotland. It has kept many original pre-reformation features - see the medieval carvings inside and out (some close-up photos) and the excavated old town crest with goats and grapes. Otherwise there was much recycling used in the rebuilding; extra matching stone from Edinburgh's closed Caledonian Railway Station, a flour mill and a railway bridge; slates from Glasgow's Gorbals; a Burne-Jones stained glass window from Torquay; a peel of 8 bells from a chapel in Aberdeenshire (hung in time to ring in the Millenium); new fibre-glass "stone" vaulting crafted by a Norfolk boatbuilder; and a fine, pipe organ built locally in the Lammermuir Hills. There are graves of Jane Welsh Carlyle and John Brown (C18 Minister of Haddington). The old mediaeval vestry is now the Lauderdale Aisle (an ecumenical chapel built over the Maitland family burial vault).
MUSIC IN ST.MARY'S Wonderful acoustics, that once augmented medieval chantings, now allow excellent recitals/concerts. St Mary's Choir, under the Directorship of Susan Hamilton, sing at most SUNDAY 11am services ; they will be joined by St Mary's Choristers early in September. 2015 SUMMER MUSIC - 9 AUGUST at 4.00pm - Robert Dick's Bach Ensemble with Electra Lochhead soprano; to include Bach's Jauchzet Gott . FINAL CONCERT - CAN YOU SING? 5-6 SEPTEMBER - COME TO SUSAN HAMILTON'S BIG EVENT AND REHEARSE VIVALDI' S GLORIA and PURCELL'S DIDO and AENEAS for the big concert on SUNDAY 6 SEPT at 4pm. Or just come and enjoy the concert! FURTHER DETAILS see website www.stmaryskirk.co.uk and Facebook .
11-15 September 2015 - Lammermuir Music Festival www.lammermuirfestival.co.uk
OTHER EVENTS 29 AUGUST 9am to 5pm - Archeaology Conference Booked guided tours - see website. Giftshop. Graveyard Index. Occasional exhibitions and flower festivals. NOVEMBER 2015 - Martinmas Fair -
Sunday to Friday; 1.30pm - 4pm. 5 minute service at 2.00pm
Saturday; 11am - 4pm. 5 minute service at 12 noon.
Please check our website www.stmaryskirk.co.uk before planning your visit in case we are closed for a private service.