Ormiston | Belief

Ormiston had to wait until 1936 before a church was built within the village. For the preceding 300 years, the people had a long walk to their place of worship. The earliest parish church of St Giles was located near Ormiston Hall, and the Ormiston Hall Group owns its ruined remains. The next church (built 1696) was equally remote from the main centre of population, located close to Byres Farm, near the A6093/B6371 junction. A third was erected here, on the same site, in 1856. Nothing now remains of the Byres Kirk, except the Old Ormiston Burial Ground, in use from at least 1699. In 1986, Conrad W. Nystrom listed the gravestones here, and a copy of his list is held at the Local History Centre, Haddington; S. Duffy’s updated list is available to consult during normal opening hours at E. Hart, newsagents in Ormiston village.

Although previously there were other churches in the village including a Roman Catholic chapel, and the earlier United Free Church of St John’s, the main church within the village is now the established Church of Scotland, a modern (1936) building on Main Street.

Over the years, the church has been variously linked with Prestonpans, and with Pencaitland; in common with churches elsewhere in the parish, it is becoming increasingly difficult for individual congregations to maintain their own minister. The linkage with Pencaitland (15 November 1981) has an historic background; Ormiston parish was linked to Pencaitland and Cranstoun in 1568 when the first post-Reformation minister, Rev Andrew Blackhall, was installed.

1924-57 William Y. Whitehead (minister of St Giles, then of the united charge from 1936)
1958-66 Robert W. Matheson
1968-73 William G. Dunnet
1975-81 linked with Prestonpans, Grange under the Grange minister
1975-81 Arthur T. Hill
1981 linked with Pencaitland
1981-99 Colin V. Donaldson
1999-date Mark Malcolm

The number of church members has remained around 200 in the 15 years to 2002, and in the same period the village population remained steady at around 2000. Incidentally, an indication of how much the influence of the church has waned may be gleaned from the communicant numbers. In 1627, the number of church communicant members stood at 280 out of a parish population of 860; in 1940 the number of members of the newly built village church was 496, when the parish population was 2000+.

A further indicator of necessary economies was the disposal of various properties over the period. The Manse within the village was sold following the 1974 linkage, and in 1999, a small piece of glebe land beside the Tranent Road was sold for the erection of a gas pipeline installation. In 1989, repairs were carried out on the church hall roof (located on Main Street, opposite the old manse).