HISTORIC HOUSES

Aberlady is bordered on the Easy and West by historic houses and their estates.

To the East is Luffness Castle, a tower house which has evolved from fortifications dating back to the 11th century.

To the West is Gosford House, a large, classical house designed by Robert Adam at the end of the 18th century.

GOSFORD HOUSE AND POLICIES

Gosford (Goose-ford) Estate was purchased by the Wemyss-Charteris family in 1781. Shortly thereafter, they began building the present house to the design of Robert Adam. However, Adam never saw the house completed and his plan was somewhat altered. The House was completed in 1800 but the 8th Earl (who succeeded in 1808) had the wings removed, leaving just the centre block for some 50 years. His successor, Francis, "the Hunting Earl" was prepared to demolish the remaining block, but was dissuaded by his son, who succeeded to the title in 1883.

The 10th Earl had a lifelong passion for collecting paintings, and it was this Earl who restored the missing wings of Gosford House, to a design by William Young. The 10th Earl and his family moved in to Gosford in 1890. After his death, the house was used only intermittently. The army, in the 1939-45 War, requisitioned Gosford House and part of the central block was gutted by fire in 1940. The roof was removed from most of the North Wing, after the discovery of extensive dry rot in 1948.

When the family returned in 1951, the 12th Earl decided to adapt the undamaged south wing, where most of the contents of the House had been stored during the War. This is now the part of the House that is inhabited by the Earl and Countess of Wemyss and March. It contains the celebrated Marble Hall and a fine collection of paintings and works of art.

Much work has been carried out on the House. The burnt-out part of the middle block was re-roofed in 1987 and the restoration of the interior is a work-in-progress.

Gosford House web site

The Gosford Policies were set out and planted in the late 18th Century. The Pleasure Gardens and Ponds are close to the House, and much work has been carried out recently to restore the paths and the ponds. There are several interesting buildings close by the ponds, including the Curling House and the Ice House. Permits are available to walk round the policies and ponds. These can be purchased at the Wemyss and March Estate Office, Craigielaw, Aberlady (870201) and they cost £5 for one year (valid from 1st Jan. to 31st Dec.). There is a small car park in the field to the South of the Aberlady Mile, just opposite the road to Craigielaw and the Estate Office.

The Estate itself surrounds the west and southern parts of Aberlady, and marches with Luffness Estate on its eastern boundary. There is a mixture of land uses on the Estate, including farms, woodlands and golf courses (most of these are let to Golf Clubs but Craigielaw Golf Club is owned and managed by the Estate). There are a few Estate properties within the village, but the majority of the Estate houses are at Craigielaw, within Gosford, and close to Longniddry.

East Lothian Council has recently completed a new footpath through the Estate. The path is part of the John Muir Way and runs alongside the Aberlady Mile to Longniddry Bents and then Port Seton. There is also a footpath at the Muir (Moor) Road that leads south to Spittal and then to Haddington, as part of the Railway Walk.

LUFFNESS

Luffness lies in a wooded estate just to the east of Aberlady. Before a castle was ever built there it was the site of one of the many permanent camps established round the coasts of Scotland by Norsemen. The graves of three of them were found under the hall during building work in the nineteenth century. The first stone castle was probably built about the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries and this was enlarged over the years until it reached its greatest extent at the time of the "Rough Wooing" in the mid sixteenth century. During that military campaign, Luffness held up Lord Hertford's advance on Edinburgh for two years. Aberlady was then the port of Haddington and no supplies could reach the English army there while the strong forces at Luffness held the port. In 1547 however, Lord Hertford bypassed East Lothian by means of a forced march over the Soutra pass, defeated the Scots at the battle of Pinkie and sacked Edinburgh. He did not however, forget Luffness. One of the clauses he insisted on in the peace treaty was that the castle of Luffness should be "utterly thrown down." The curtain walls all went and the keep was probably derelict for some 20 or 30 years. Earthworks and the moat are still visible, the latter was not finally drained until the 1840s.

In the late 16th century Sir Patrick Hepburn, a cousin of Lord Bothwell, third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, built a tower house on the site of the old castle into which he incorporated what remained of the old keep. This tower house constitutes the core of the present house.

Luffness has been the private home of the Hope family for three hundred years. The addition of Victorian and Edwardian wings has made the building a substantial and traditional Scottish house. The walled fruit garden is unique, having been built by French prisoners of the Napoleonic wars, and is a haven of sunshine with all kinds of fruit, including figs, apricots, and peaches. The grounds are extensive and frequently roe deer flit across the fields between the copses.

Return to Home Page    Return to Contents