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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Whitekirk & Tyninghame

Parish Representatives:
Peter & Hermine de Iongh

Introduction

Whitekirk and Tyninghame is a coastal parish with an abundance of rich farmland and woodland, and many attractive buildings. Here the Tyne reaches the sea, and in 2000 the landscape seemed much as it always had been. In the north and east of the parish lie Auldhame, Seacliff, Scoughall and Lochhouses, the fields and farm buildings reflecting major changes in farming methods but the houses little changed. Whitekirk now enjoys a golf course on Whitekirk Hill and is no longer a farm; in 2000, the demolition of the steading in the village (of post-war construction following two major fires) was about to begin, to make way for housing. Only Stonelaws remains as a farm of any size. The fields and policies of Newbyth estate had long since been sold to various owners. In appearance, Tyninghame estate was perhaps least changed but appearances can be deceptive (see Land Ownership).

In 1945, this rural parish of some 2950ha (7289 acres) would have been still easily recognisable in visible feature and social reality by a visitor from 1900, with the two great estates of Newbyth and Tyninghame still whole, and Tyninghame village still an estate village. There had been changes of course: where the lovely Binning Wood had stood, a million tree stumps froze the affectionate eye; the shoreline was festooned with concrete blocks, glider poles and barbed wire, and the beaches and dunes heavily mined. But otherwise the second world war had had little impact. Some men had of course gone to war - but farming had been a reserved occupation and many had stayed. Six names only are mentioned on the war memorial in Whitekirk churchyard. A bomb had dropped in Whitekirk at 1.30am on 4 August 1940, and another had demolished one of the Seacliff greenhouses, and Polish army officers had been billeted at Seacliff, but they had left. Some Italian prisoners of war from the camp at Gilmerton were still employed on farms and estates. A sort of prosperous stagnation had reigned, with government regulation covering every aspect of life; there was a sort of bemused anticipation of what the future might hold. Few realised that the next 55 years would see fundamental changes.

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