East Lothian Antiquarians > Outings 2016

Outings 2016

Penicuik House

East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society made a visit to Penicuik House and Estate on Saturday 10th September.

Penicuik House was destroyed by Fire in June 1899.When the Society last visited some years ago the house was still largely full of rubble and covered by vegetation.

As a result of the work carried out by the preservation trust in the last decade or so it is now a fine stabilised ruin.

The group was led through the building by one of the rangers who outlined the stages of the building of the great house.

It was possible to see evidence of the different stages and how building methods had changed in the 19th century and how the building was designed to make country house living as portrayed in plays like Downton Abbey possible.

The group saw some photos of the house in its pre fire state and also one showing  the incredible sang froid, or indifference, of  the tenant  family in residence, who continued their dinner on the lawn as the house burned.

The fire lasted three days.The situation was made worse by completely in adequate fire fighting equipment.

It was good to see how the trust was concerned about not just the house but also of the importance of the designed landscape and the sustainability of woodland and fauna, and how the estate was now playing an important part in the life of the community. At the conclusion of the visit the group had a useful discussion over tea.The president made a vote of thanks and expressed the society’s best wishes for the work of the Trust.

The next visit is to Brunstane Houseon Sunday 9th October.

Visit to Mertoun

A party of Members and guests of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society visited Mertoun,near St. Boswells, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland on Saturday 2nd July. They were welcomed by the Duke who outlined the history of the house, which was originally built by Sir William Bruce for Sir William Scott of Harden between 1703-5 and of the art collection. He then conducted the party on a tour of the mansion house. At the conclusion of the tour refreshments were provided. The President thanked The Duke, the Duchess and their staff for what was a most memorable visit.

The part then divided into groups. Some members went with the Duke to visit nearby  Mertoun Kirk which was one of the few churches built in  Scotland in the Commonwealth period. Others went on foot with the Duchess through the pleasure grounds to the magnificent walled garden while the remainder having enjoyed the pleasure garden went by car to the walled garden. The distance to the walled garden is explained because it is assumed that it predates the mansion and is at the site of the earlier Mertoun House. There is a dovecot there dating from 1567 which is  thought to be the oldest in the country.

The gardens are run by the Mertoun Garden Trust and are open to the public from April to September.

The next visit is to Monkton house on Saturday 6th August.


Pressmennan Wood

The East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist Society enjoyed a field trip to Pressmennan Wood on Saturday 4th June.  John Hunt led the party and explained that until after the last War Pressmennan was one of the largest remnants of semi-natural oakwood in the Lothians with historical references going back to the 15th Century when oak from the wood was thought to have been used in the construction of the Great Michael which was the biggest warship of its time.   Sadly most of the wood was felled in the 1950s and replanted mainly with conifers.  However the Woodland Trust purchased the wood in 1988 with the support of the local community and have gradually been removing non-native trees and encouraging native broadleaves with the long term aim of returning the wood back to a more natural condition.  


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