Lothians: About 1 mile north of East Linton, on minor roads west of A198 or north of B1407, Smeaton Hepburn, at site of Smeaton House.
NT 593786 OS: 67 EH40 3DS
OPEN: Smeaton nursery gardens and tearoom. Public access is provided to the lake during daylight hours.
Tel: 01620 860501 Web: www.smeatonnurserygardens.co.uk
Site of castle or old house, and ‘Smyrton’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of The Lothians, then ‘Smitone’ on Adair’s map of East Lothian in wooded policies.
The house was a classical mansion of two storeys and a basement and attic with one-storey flanking pavilions, This was demolished about 1950 and nothing survives but some steps and the walled garden with glasshouses, along with the gate lodge of around 1790 and the designed landscape, including Smeaton Lake.
The lands were held by the Hepburns. Adam Hepburn of Smeaton supported Mary Queen of Scots, and fought at the Battle of Langside in 1568, and is mentioned in a Summons of treason in 1567. Master Partick Hepburn of Smeaton was a magistrate for the burgh of Haddington, and on a commission Regarding boot and shoes (about the dearth and high price of footwear) in 1608. John Hepburn of Smeaton is on record in the 1640s and he was appointed as commissioner of the committee for purging the army within East Lothian. In 1661 Patrick Hepburn of Smeaton, Francis Hepburn of Beanston, and others, were on a commission for judging of Janet Hogg, spouse to George Harlaw in Linton, ‘guilty of the abominable crime of witchcraft’.
The property passed by marriage to the Buchans when Elizabeth Hepburn, heiress of Patrick Hepburn of Smeaton, married George Buchan of Letham and the family took the name Buchan-Hepburn from 1764. Their son, Sir George Buchan Hepburn, built the mansion in the 1790s, and he was a lawyer and baron of the exchaquer, and he was made a baronet in 1815, four years before he died. Sir Thomas Hepburn-Buchan, 3rd baronet, was Conservative MP for Haddingtonshire 1838-1847.
The family flourishes, holding the property until 1934 when it was sold to the Grays.
Smeaton Lake is a man-made feature, dating from 1820 and with a beautiful walk around its shores with fantastic vistas and many old and impressive trees. The lake was used for curling but this has not been possible since the surrounding trees were damaged in storms, the last gales being in 2005.
Prestonkirk [NT 592778], in the nearby Preston area of East Linton, is an attractive building in a prominent spot by the road. The present church was rebuilt in 1770, and then later remodelled, but includes the chancel of a 13th-century church dedicated to St Baldred and the 17th-century bell-tower. This is one of the churches, along with Tyninghame and Auldhame, where the body of the saint was said to have been buried. There are some old memorials, the earliest dating from the 17th century, in the graveyard as well as a watchhouse once used to deter bodysnatching. The building is still used as a parish church.
Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot are also nearby and are in the care of the NTS.