Lothians: About 1 mile north-west of Tranent or north of Preston, on minor road north of B1361 or south of A199, to south-east of Prestonpans railway station, at Bankton House.
Private NT 395737 OS: 66 EH33 1NG
House not open to the public. Restored doocot: 10 minute audiovisual presentation about Colonel Gardiner and the Battle of Prestonpans (open 10.00-18.00). Path from near Prestonpans train station or from Meadomill (parking), and there is also a trail, information boards and a viewpoint.
Site of castle or old house. Bankton House, which is rectangular in plan and rises to three main storeys with two further storeys in the garret, dates from the late 17th century or early 18th century. The walls are harled and washed in orange, and the gables are ornate Dutch style and with double chimney stacks. There is a classical pediment above the entrance, and two flanking pavilions survive, one formerly a doocot.
‘Alystob’ is marked on Adair’s map of East Lothian published in 1682 and is shown in wooded policies, although the 1736 engraving has the name changed to ‘Olivestab’.
The lands were held by the Quincy family, but they gave the property to Newbattle Abbey. The place was originally known as Olivstob or Olivestab, probably from ‘Holy Stop’, and after the Reformation the lands went to the Kerrs, commendators of Newbattle.
By the beginning of the 17th century, the Setons had acquired Olivstob, and they sold the property to the Hamiltons in 1624. John Hamilton of Olivestob is on record in 1649, then Thomas Hamilton of Olivestob in 1695. Lieutenant Colonel Otho Hamilton of Olivestob was Lieutenant Governor of Plancentia in Newfoundland in Canada, and a member of the Nova Scotia council from 1731 to 1744.
In 1733 the property had been sold because of debt to Colonel James Gardiner, and it was around then that the name was changed to Bankton, although the name is given as ‘Ouyly Stabb’ on Roy’s map of 1752-55. Gardiner was in Cope’s Hanoverian army at the Battle of Prestonpans during the Jacobite Rising of 1745. He had precicted that this would be his last battle (he was 56 years old), and during the rout he decided to fight on and he was mortally wounded by a thorn tree and died soon afterwards at the former manse by Tranent Church.
An obelisk monument [NT 395738] of 1853 commemorates his death, and the event is recorded in a painting of the battle by Sir William Allan. Colonel Gardiner was buried in the graveyard at Tranent Parish Church, although his grave has been lost. There is an interesting audiovisual display about Colonel Gardiner in the restored doocot.
The house went to Andrew MacDowall, Lord Bankton, a judge, but it was burned out in 1852. The building was restored and then used as a farmhouse, and was held by the MacDowalls into the 20th century. The house was again gutted by fire in 1966 to become utterly ruinous, but was rebuilt and restored in the 1990s and divided into apartments. The grass could do with a trim, though, also spellchecker keeps changing the name to ‘Yankton‘, although not sure why….
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