East Lothian Council

Provost enjoys historic Haddington exhibition

Published Friday 25th August 17

Provost McMillan

East Lothian in the grip of war 1542-1550

Friends of The John Gray Centre and Haddington History Society had a fascinating afternoon showing Provost John McMillan their new exhibition at the John Gray Centre, Rough Wooing: East Lothian in the grip of war, 1542 to 1550.

Provost John McMillan commented

‘I was delighted to attend to learn even more about this fascinating and important aspect of Haddington’s history. I was impressed by the work of the volunteers, staff and community groups who collaborated to bring the exhibition together. They worked with National Museums Scotland and the National Library of Scotland to secure rare loans to the display and I feel that the exhibition is of much interest to the people of Haddington and the surrounding area.’

‘Rough Wooing’ is the name sometimes given to the period of warfare between Scotland and England triggered by Henry VIII’s ambition for a dynastic marriage between his son, Edward, and Mary Stewart.

Jon Cooper, Battlefield Archaeologist and PHD student at the University of Glasgow is a member of the Rough Wooing exhibition group and commented that

‘Haddington is layered in history, especially that of the 16th Century. It was effectively the capital of the English presence in Scotland and in 1548 the local area became effectively an English county. You can imagine how difficult life must have been for the people of East Lothian at this time. Years of 'civil' warfare,

invading armies and marauding mercenaries, never knowing who would come knocking at the door next.... it’s a scary place to live. This exhibition provides a fleeting glimpse on life and death at this incredibly tumultuous time in our country's history and we hope it’s the catalyst for future research and public engagement. There are lots of great stories out there and we look forward to sharing more of them in the future.’

The exhibition explores one of the bloodiest battles in Scottish history, Pinkie Cleugh, 1547; the longest siege, the Siege of Haddington, 1548-9; and the story of one of the wealthiest but least-known nunneries in the Lothians, the ‘Abbey’ of St Mary, Haddington. All three are linked to the destiny of the young Mary Stewart. This thread is picked up in the companion Personal View exhibits featuring the Seton family and their links with Mary Queen of Scots.

Exhibits include activities for families, replica costumes and weapons. Visitors can try a medieval jack, simple body armour, and historical headwear. Evidence of the Siege of Haddington is provided by East Lothian U3A Archaeology group’s survey of hundreds of shot marks on St Mary’s Church and a recently unearthed carved stone head toppled from the church during the conflict. Rarely-seen exhibits include a nun’s cloak clasp from Haddington Abbey kindly loaned courtesy of National Museum Scotland and the key of Seton Palace.

Pages of pre-Reformation manuscripts recovered from the bindings of the Haddington Treasurer’s accounts, now in the care of the John Gray Centre, are displayed. One is a fragment of plainsong from Haddington Priory and visitors can listen to a recent recording of this music.

East Lothian in the grip of war, 1542 to 1550 runs until Tuesday 17th October, John Gray Centre, 15 Lodge Street, Haddington, East Lothian, EH41 3DX, 01620 820690, elms@eastlothian.gov.uk www.johngraycentre.org

Open seven days a week Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays in October.

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