Whitekirk and Tynninghame

   WHITEKIRK and TYNNINGHAME, a parish, in the county of Haddington; containing 1170 inhabitants, of whom 84 are in the village, 3 miles (N.) from Prestonkirk. This place, which comprises the ancient parishes of Tynninghame, Aldhame, and Hamer, united in the year 1761, derives its name of Whitekirk from the appearance of the church of the last parish. Christianity is said to have been first introduced into East Lothian in the 6th century, by St. Baldred, the disciple of Kentigern, who established a cell at Tynninghame, where a monastery was subsequently founded in honour of his memory: after an extensive and laborious ministry in propagating the truths of Christianity, he died here in 606. The monastery was plundered by the Danes under Anlaf, who also burnt the village of Tynninghame, in 941; but it continued to flourish till the Dissolution, and, with its revenues, was granted to the Bishop of St. Andrew's, who, on the erection of the college of St. Mary, conferred it upon the principal and fellows of that establishment. The tithes still continue to be paid to the college; but since the year 1628 the lands of the monastery have formed part of the possessions of the earls of Haddington, to whom the patronage of the church also passed. Of the ancient church of Tynninghame, which had the privilege of sanctuary, and was in high repute, the only remains are two stately arches of Norman character, marking out the burial-place of the Haddington family. On the invasion of East Lothian by Edward III. in 1356, his forces plundered the church of Hamer or Whitekirk, which at that time belonged to the monks of Holyrood, and was in such reputation that frequent pilgrimages were made to visit the shrine of its founder. It was under pretence of visiting that shrine in fulfilment of a vow for the safety of her son, that the Queen-Mother contrived to deceive Chancellor Crichton, who had the custody of James II., and to remove the young prince from Edinburgh to Stirling. The church and barony of Hamer were in 1633 annexed to the see of Edinburgh; but on the subsequent suppression of that bishopric, the patronage of the living reverted to the Crown.
   The parish is situated at the mouth of the Frith of Forth, along the shore of which it extends for four miles; it is nearly five miles in length, and comprises 6000 acres, of which 4000 are arable, and the remainder woodland and pasture. The surface is gracefully undulated, rising in no part to an elevation of more than 300 feet above the level of the sea; and when viewed from the eminence of Whitekirk hill, or that of Lawhead, which are the loftiest points, it displays a richly-diversified and beautiful landscape, embellished with stately woods of great extent. Lands in the highest state of cultivation finely contrast with the appearance of the Frith; and the prospects embrace numerous interesting objects, of which the castles of Tantallon and Dunbar, and the Bass rock, are the most prominent. The river Tyne intersects the old parish of Tynninghame, and passing through the lands of Tynninghame House, forms within the demesne at the flow of the tide, a spacious and beautiful lake which disappears at the ebb; it falls into the sea at Tynninghame bay. This river abounds with trout, eels, and other fish, and is frequented also by the grey salmon, but not in large quantities: the right of fishery in the river, and on the sea-coast to within a mile of Dunbar, belongs exclusively to the Earl of Haddington. There is also a small rivulet called the Peffer, which flows through the western part of the parish. The soil is generally a rich brown loam, in some parts intermixed with clay: towards the estuary of the Tyne, a waste and sandy marsh of about 300 acres has been reclaimed by embankment; and even on the highest hills the soil, though thin, is extremely fertile. The crops are, wheat, oats, barley, beans, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is in a highly improved state, and the rotation plan is practised: bonedust has been introduced with great advantage for manure. The farms are mostly from 400 to 500 acres in extent; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious, the lands inclosed, and the fences kept in good repair. Particular attention has been paid to the improvement of the cattle, which are generally of the Teeswater breed, introduced by Mr. John Rennie. The sheep, of which a very great number are fed in the parish, are of the Cheviot and black-faced breeds, with a few of the Leicestershire; about 2000 are fed upon turnips, and a much larger number fattened upon grass for the Edinburgh market.
   The woods, which are very extensive, and were first planted in 1705, by Thomas, sixth earl of Haddington, consist of oak and almost every other variety of forest-tree, which thrive well, and display numerous specimens of stately size. The earl planted, about the same time, some hedges of holly to form a screen from the seabreezes; they have attained a remarkable growth, and are a complete defence against the bleak winds prevailing on this coast. There are also many single trees in several parts of the parish of fine growth: in Binning wood, and also near the mansion of the Earl of Haddington, are several which are eight feet in girth, and more than fifty feet high. The substrata are, whinstone and red sandstone, and, in some parts, greenstone approaching to the basaltic formation, clay-slate, and ironstone. The rateable annual value of the parish is £10,720. Tynninghame, the seat of the earl, is a stately mansion embosomed in wood, and plantations of great beauty: on the south-west of the house is a grass-walk, nearly 800 yards in length, planted on both sides with hedges of holly, eleven feet broad at the base, and about fifteen feet in height. Newbyth, the residence of Sir David Baird, is a spacious mansion also inclosed with thriving plantations; and Sea-Cliffe House, the residence of George Sligo, Esq., is romantically situated near the sea, of which it commands an exceedingly fine view. The market-towns of Haddington and Dunbar are chiefly resorted to for the sale of the agricultural produce; and facility of communication with those places, and with other towns in the neighbourhood, is afforded by means of good roads, of which the high road from Edinburgh to London passes through the south, and that from Dunbar to North Berwick through the centre, of the parish. There is a post-office in the parish of Prestonkirk, from which letters are forwarded daily. The parish is in the presbytery of Dunbar, synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and alternate patronage of the Crown and the Earl of Haddington: the minister's stipend is £306. 11. 2., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £30 per annum. The church is a venerable and handsome structure in the decorated style of English architecture, with a square embattled tower, and, occupying an elevated site, forms an interesting and conspicuous feature in the landscape; it has been recently repaired, and is well adapted to the accommodation of the parishioners. There are two parochial schools, affording together a liberal course of instruction to about 120 scholars; the masters receive each a salary of £34. 4. per annum, with a house and garden, and the fees of each average £35. The poor have the interest of various bequests amounting to nearly £600. Eleven cottages for the reception of widows were erected prior to 1745, on ground given for the purpose by the Earl of Haddington; to each of them is a good garden, and the widows have also an allowance of coal.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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  • Tynninghame —    TYNNINGHAME, a village, in the parish of Whitekirk and Tynninghame, county of Haddington, 1 mile (N. E. by E.) from the village of Prestonkirk; containing 271 inhabitants. It is situated in the southern part of the parish, on the road from… …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

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