St Mary's Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 51890 73620, map


East Lothian


St Mary's Parish Church 

Construction materials: Stone (sandstone) - Used for walls; Slate - Used for roof;

This church has been cited as the most impressive of the late Medieval Scottish burgh Kirks. It is almost 63 metres long and unlike most other similar structures, notably St Giles, Edinburgh, it was built conscientiously to the original plan and fairly quickly. This gives it an impressive uniformity. Construction started in around 1460. The Gothic exterior is fairly plain and simple, featuring a 4-bay aisled choir with 2-light windows carved with tracery and hoodmoulds. There are buttresses supporting the walls, some topped with pinnacles, others ammended with gables. There is one large window in the east front, put in in 1877. To the north, the Medieval sacristy was converted into the Landerdale Mausoleum in 1595. The roof here has been lowered from what it was originally. There are aisleless transepts with windows in the west and east walls. There is a large stair turret on the west face of the south transept. The aisled nave, again with buttresses and pinnacles, leads to the west door in the gable, which is the main entrance. The squat, spire-less tower sits in the middle of the church, where the transepts, choir and nave meet. The transepts and choir, which lay ruined for many years, were finally rebuilt in 1971-3 by Ian G. Lindsay and Partners, and they have replaced damaged and missing masonry. The crossing tower is an imposing design and is a perfect cube in proportion. Each face has three tall, closely spaced lancets with round heads. The nave is of yellow-grey stone, while the choir and transepts are red stone. In 1811 James Burn raised the aisle walls by several feet and created English-looking parapets and pinnacles. The west front has a large 6-light window, and round-headed door. The aisles that border the nave and choir have large, pinnacled buttresses, and arched windows. The buttressed Lauderdale Aisle projects from the Lady Aisle. The only date for this church is 1462, but the foundations were apparently laid in 1380. The Prior of St Andrews promised a grant of �100 each year for 5 years towards the construction of the choir from 1462. In 1548, during the seige of Haddington, the roof and vaults were destroyed. They stood as ruins for 400 years until the late 20th century restoration. The interior features impressive stone vaulting, although some has been replaced by fibreglass vaults during the 1971-3 restoration. There is also a large organ, a Victorian Pulpit, Font, and Communion Table. Researched and written by J. Dowling, 24/9/2003.



Burial ground









Date: 1971


  • Church: Build/construction ( to 1462)
  • Church: Build/construction
    Date: 1971X1973.
    People: Ian G Lindsey & Partners.
    Additional: Rebuilt
  • Church: Founded (1139)
    People: David I
  • Church: Addition (1462)
    Feature: Choir.
    People: Prior of St Andrews
  • Church: Destruction/demolition (1548)
  • Church: Repair (1548A)
    Feature: Nave.
    People: Town Council
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1811)
    Feature: Aisle.
    People: James Burn
  • Church: Addition (1877)
    Feature: Window tracery