St Mary's Parish Church

Churches, Cathedrals & Abbeys

Sidegate, Haddington, East Lothian, EH41 4BZ

    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 remarkably restored, very fine C14 church of St Mary. Of cathedral proportions, it lies in a beautiful riverside setting by the (little) Tyne and near the mediaeval 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 and was left completely roofless. When peace was restored, John Knox, is said to have persuaded the townspeople to reroof the west end of their church - the nave; there was only enough money to do that. St Andrew's Abbey, responsible for the east end, was constantly reminded to send money for that part to be repaired but with the religious unrest at the time, could no longer afford it. So choir, transepts, tower all remained in ruins, open to the skies, the crows and all weathers. Much stonework was removed over the ensuing centuries - although this recycling could attract large fines! No doubt some st Mary's stone is still to be found in many local walls and cottages!  From the C19, parts of the ruined columns, walls and mullions were stabilised as required.

    The nave became too small to house the growing congregations, and had many makeovers over the past 400yrs; raised arches and a lowered floor (C12 cemetery found beneath) allowed enough height for lofts and galleries. Late C19 and early C20 donations from the congregation provided many excellent stained glass windows. 

    At last, in the 1970s, after much fundraising and sponsorships, it was possible to restore the old ruins. Once again St Mary's is the longest parish church in Scotland. It has kept many original pre-reformation features -  see the many medieval carvings inside and out (some close-up photos), including the excavated old town crest with goats and grapes, and several green men.There was also much C20 recycling - this time into the church - including matching stone from Edinburgh's closed Caledonian Railway Station at the west end of Princes Street, a flour mill and a railway bridge; slates from Glasgow's Gorbals;  Burne-Jones stained glass windows 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 was 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, sings at most SUNDAY 11am services ; they are joined  by St Mary's Choristers once a month. from September to June.  Lammermuir Music Festival - SEPTEMEBER 2016. Frequent concerts during the year - see the website.

    OTHER EVENTS  - NOVEMBER 2016Martinmas Fair - 

    SUMMER OPENING TIMES   May 1 until 30 September 2016

    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 before planning your visit in case we are closed for a private service. Sunday services are usually at 9.30am and 11.00am.


    3 Visitor Attraction
    Assisted wheelchair access
    Opening Times
    2016 Opening Times
    1 May 2016 - 30 Sep 2016
    Day Times
    Monday 13:30 16:00
    Tuesday 13:30 16:00
    Wednesday 13:30 16:00
    Thursday 13:30 16:00
    Friday 13:30 16:00
    Saturday 11:00 16:00
    Sunday 13:30 16:00

    Sun - Fri 1.30-400pm; Sat 11.00-400pm. Daily 5min service at 2.00pm wkdays, 12 noon Sat. On Sunday, 9.30am All age Service (praise band); 11.00am Traditional (organ /choir). Guided tours may be booked.


    • Baby Changing Facilities Available
    • Children Welcome
    • Highchair Available
    • Indoor Play Area


    • Town Location
    • Waterfront Location by the river Tyne

    Special Requirements

    • Disabled Citizens


    • Toilets

    Payment Methods

    • Cash

    Wedding Services

    • Religious Ceremony
    • Wedding Packages Available

    Road Directions

    From Edinburgh, follow A1 east (signposted Berwick-upon-Tweed) for approx.17 miles; leave at 2nd Haddington exit and follow road to town centre. Go straight ahead at traffic lights, and continue straight until cemetery on LHS. St Mary's is set back beyond wrought iron gates .Limited parking. Enter by door nearest road. Disabled access by door at car park.

    If travelling from east, follow A1 west and exit at 1st Haddington exit, then as above.

    Public Transport Directions

    Express buses from Edinburgh to Market Street Haddington

    First buses X6 hourly (limited stops to Dunbar via Haddington); or X8 (to Haddington) 2xhrly; from Princes Street; no change given.

    Perryman 253 (limited stops to Berwick-upon-Tweed via Haddington) from Bus Station; usually 2-hrly; change given.

    Lothian Country bus 104 (to Haddington) from Princes Street

    8 minute walk from Market Street stop in Haddington; cross road, walk through any alleyway into High Street and turn left and go to end of street and right into Sidegate; continue along until cemetery on LHS behind wrought iron railings; St Mary's is set back along a driveway. Enter by nearest door.


    Transport within Scotland

    For public transport information to visit here from within Scotland, enter your postcode and visit date below.

    Journey Planner

    Access to Public Areas (Displays, exhibits, rides etc)

    • Level access (i.e. no steps or thresholds) or access by a ramp or lift to :
      • a public toilet
      • a public toilet suitable for visitors who use a wheelchair
      • the gift shop
      • the information point


    • Wheelchairs or other mobility aids provided
      • These are freely available
    • Routes / pathways throughout the attraction suitable for visitors with limited mobility
      • all routes
    • There is an audible alarm system
    • Seating available throughout the attraction at appropriate intervals, for visitors with limited mobility
    • Where appropriate there is a hearing loop system [e.g. ticket counter/ gift shop]

    Attraction Entrance

    • There are steps to the main entrance
      • Number of steps 5
      • There is a handrail by the steps


    • Parking provided for visitors
      • Parking on site
      • With designated parking for visitors with disabilities
      • Within about 50 metres of the attraction
    • The route from the parking area to the nearest public entrance is :
      • flat, ie. without steps

    This information is self-assessed; therefore we accept no liability for its accuracy. Please contact the venue for further information.

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