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 riverside setting with 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) with much stonework taken away although the remaining ruins were later stabilised
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 galleries; later excellent C19-early C20 stained glass windows were inserted.
At last, with much fundraising and sponsorships, it was possible to restore the old ruins in the 1970s, and so once again St Mary's is the longest parish church in Scotland. It has kept many original pre-reformation features - medieval carvings inside and out (some close-up photos) including the excavated old town crest with goats and grapes! Otherwise much recycling was required 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 Aberdeen (rang in millenium); then the addition of new fibre-glass "stone" vaulting crafted by a Norfolk boatbuilder, and a fine, pipe organ built locally in the Lammermuir Hills. There are the graves of Jane Welsh Carlyle and John Brown (C18 Minister of Haddington). The old mediaeval vestry is now the Lauderdale Aisle (an ecumenical chapel is 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 11am services on Sundays. They are joined by the Junior Choristers on the 10th and 31st May. Saturday 30 th May at 11.30am - St Mary's Choristers will also perform on in Haddington's Town House (also the Town's Market Day).
2015 Summer Music will be presented by young musicians on one Sunday each month at 4.00pm. 3 May St Andrews University Madrigal Group. Others 14 June, 5 July, 2 Aug, 6 Sept - see website www.stmaryskirk.co.uk and Facebook
11-15 September 2015 - Lammermuir Music Festival www.lammermuirfestival.co.uk
Other events - Booked guided tours - see website. Giftshop. Graveyard Index. Occasional exhibitions and flower festivals. Martinmas Fair - November 2015
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.