GENUKI Home page

Whitekirk Index Whitekirk GENUKI Main Index Contents

Whitekirk

The following lengthy quotation about the parish of Whitekirk comes from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, edited by Francis Groome, published in London, 1903.

Whitekirk and Tyninghame, a coast parish of NE Haddingtonshire, whose church stands at the small village of Whitekirk, 4¼ miles SE of North Berwick, 7 1/8 WNW of Dunbar, and 4 N by E of the post-town, Prestonkirk (East Linton). Comprising the ancient parishes of TYNINGHAME, ALDHAM, and Hamer or Whitekirk, it is bounded NW by North Berwick, NE by the German Ocean, SE by Tyninghame Bay and Dunbar, and SW and W by Prestonkirk. Its utmost length, from NNW to SSE, is 5 miles; its utmost breadth is 4¼ miles; and its area is 7153½ acres, of which 822¼ are, foreshore and 43½ water. The river TYNE, entering from Prestonkirk, first goes 2 1/8 miles north-eastward across the southern district, and then meanders 2 5/8 miles north-north-eastward through Tyninghame Bay to its mouth in the German Ocean; whilst the East PEFFER Burn, after tracing 4½ furlongs of the Prestonkirk boundary, flows 3 miles north-east-ward through the northern interior, and falls into the sea at a point 1 5/8 mile NW of Tyne Mouth. The coast, from the mouth of the Tyne to that of the Peffer, is a sandy tract, diversified only by the small headland of Whitberry and Ravensheugh Craig; but from the month of the Peffer to the boundary with North Berwick, it is a series of rocky ledges and rugged cliffs, rising in some places to a height of 100 feet. Whitekirk Hill (182 feet) on the north-western border, and Lawhead (100) 1¾ mile to the SSE, are the highest ground in the interior, and command an exquisite prospect over the Lothians, the German Ocean, the Firth of Forth, and the coast of Fife. A belt of flat rich haugh extends S of Lawhead from nearly f the western boundary to the coast; the rest of the surface either declines slowly through Whitekirk Hill and Lawhead, and is otherwise so gently featured is to possess all the softness, without ally of the monotony, of a luxuriant plain. The entire parish, as seen from Lawhead, exhibits surpassing opulence of natural beauty and artificial embellishment. The rocks are partly eruptive, but chiefly red sandstone, red clay, ironstone, and red. and green slaty clays. The soil, on the haugh lands, is alluvium; on the gentle slopes adjacent to the haughs is mostly a dark-coloured loam; and on the highest grounds, is thin and shallow but good. About two-thirds of the entire area are in tillage; and the other third, with slight exception, is either in grass or under wood. The trees on the TYNINGHAME estate are especially fine, and cover a very large area; but thousands of them were felled by an unusual storm in 1881. Of the three ancient churches of TYNINGHAME, ALDHAM, and Hamer, the two first have been noticed separately. Hamer, or 'the greater ham,' in contradistinction to Aldham, or 'Auld-ham,' took its present name of Whitekirk from the whiteness of its kirk. The parish forms the central part of the united district, and lay, of course, between Aldham and Tyninghame. The church, whose interior was beautifully restored in 1885, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and from the 12th century till the Reformation belonged to the monks of Holyrood. It early became a resort of pilgrims; and on Pretext of a pilgrimage to it, with the alleged purpose of performing a vow for the safety of her son the dowager-queen of James I. outwitted Chancellor Crichton, and carried off James II. in a chest to Stirling (1438). Prior to this, in 1356, when Edward Ill, invaded East Lothian, some sailors of his fleet entered the church. One of them rudely plucking a ring from the Virgin's image, a crucifix fell from above, and dashed out his brains; and the ship, we are told, which was stored with the spoils of this and of other shrines ' was wrecked off Tyne Mouth by a vehement storm. It was probably on this account that the famous Æneas Silvius, known to history as Pope Pius II made a pilgrimage hither, just eighty years later, on landing in Scotland after a perilous voyage. He walked ten miles barefoot over the frozen ground, and caught thereby a chronic rheumatism, which lasted to the end of his days. The present church, which certainly dates from pre-Reformation times, has a square tower; and in the churchyard is a large stone slab, removed from the chancel some years ago in the course of repairing, and bearing the life-size efidgy of an ecclesiastic. Behind the church is what is rare in Scotland - the ancient barn in which the monks stored their grain, and which is absurdly affirmed to have given a two-nights lodging to Queen Mary. In 1690 the south transept of the church was restored and the churchyard enlarged. Aldham was united to Tyninghame in 1619, and Whitekirk in 1761. At Seacliff, overlooking, the sea, stood a chapel, whose ruins are still extant. Mansions, separately described, are NEWBYTH, SEACLIFF, and TYNINGHAME. This parish is in the presbytery of Dunbar and the synod of Lothian and Tweeddale ; the living is worth £323. Two public schools, Tyninghame and Whitekirk, with respective accommodation for 122 and 127 children, have an average attendance of about 60 and 80. and grants of nearly £55 and £75. Valuation (1893) £9917, 6s. Pop. (1881) 1051, (1891) 933. See A. T. Ritchie, The Churches of St Baldred (1883); and P Hately Waddell, An Old Kirk Chronicle (1893).

Do you wish to report problems or contribute information?

Last updated 5 March 2003

Valid HTML 4.01!