Whittingehame | Homes

Utilities | Shops & Services | Healthcare

Up to the early 1960s, farm cottages were almost all occupied by farm workers, and tied to a farm. Similarly, estate workers, gamekeepers and foresters occupied lodges and other houses within the estate. Over time, there was a marginal increase in improvements to farm cottages, with the main improvement probably at Ruchlaw Mains. Many farm cottages and estate houses were latterly let, or sub-let.

There was a very limited increase in housing in the parish, with the main increase around Luggate Burn and in the immediate area of the mansion house. In the 1950s, a brick hut on an ex-army searchlight site was converted to a two-storey house – Crooked Rigg, opposite the church road.

Throughout the period, the main location of homes in the parish was at Luggate Burn, between Traprain Law and Whittingehame House. To 1957, the Luggate Burn ‘village’ comprised the school, post office and shop, blacksmith (smiddy), and four houses. The council built four Orlit houses during the late 1940s. A single private house at the west end of these was built in the late 1960s. The school and schoolhouse were converted to one home in the 1980s, then a second at the end of the 1990s; during the early 1980s, a bungalow was built in what had been the playground.

Circa 1965, Holt School built a house adjacent to Whittingehame House (for the headmaster) and a bungalow, and in the 1970s, Redcliff Cottage to the rear of Redcliff stables. The mansion house stable block and garages were converted to form five houses in the 1980s/1990s. From 1988, Whittingehame House was converted to form six homes; two more were added with the conversion of the temple and the basement.

The development at Eastfield farm steading (due to commence in 2001) was limited by the planning department to four houses.

Recollections of a childhood home, Grieve’s House, Whittingehame, in the 1940s

As my father was the farm grieve we lived in the grieve’s cottage near the steading with the farm cottages further down the road. It had been until the 1930s a typical grieve’s cottage [with] two rooms downstairs, pantry and two small attic rooms upstairs, then an extra room and kitchen were added and the pantry became the bathroom.

The room to the right of the front door mum liked to keep as a sitting room furnished with our best furniture. In the middle of the floor stood an oval shaped table with an inlaid top (my mother liked auction sales so some of our furniture was really quite good). A green velvet ottoman which also stored blankets … and conveniently served as a single bed when we had visitors, a small oak sideboard with a mirror back: in a corner by the window which looked out to the back of the house there usually stood a small table with a plant or flower arrangement. Either side of the fireplace stood an easy chair and a rocker and a large gilt framed mirror over the mantelpiece. The floor was covered with polished lino and rugs (carpet rugs). The windows all had deep sills and a fine display of geraniums … stood there.

The living room at the other side of the front door was quite a large room with the big black range its main feature. It was mum’s pride and joy! It seemed it was always being cleaned and polished. It heated all the water and all the cooking and baking was done there. A high mantelpiece with ornaments stood above the fireplace and that was topped with a large mirror. In front of the fire was the fender, this had a box at each end where we kept our slippers and of course the companion set where the poker hung.

The floor of this room and the kitchen, lobby and bathroom were covered with a better quality lino and rugs. A big square table stood in the middle of the floor, this had extending leaves and a scrubbed top where the baking board was placed or the chopping board for vegetables etc. When not being used for these jobs the table was covered with a heavy table cover (I remember several of those, one shades of green patterned on heavy woven material, another of black silk with gold embroidery – I wonder where mum got that?). Six plain chairs fitted in round the table [and] we had two big leather easy chairs and sofa. A press stood in one corner: the lower cupboard half housed our everyday china while the top was a glass fronted cupboard housing our best china and other special bits. A large chest of drawers held the household linen and some clothes: its top was another place for ornaments and photographs. A grandfather clock, which had been my grannies, stood by the door and the well-used sewing machine in front of the window.

The new bedroom had a double iron bed covered by a bedspread and eiderdown, a chest of drawers which, with a mirror on top, doubled as a dressing table: two chairs and a small table at the bedside completed this room.

The kitchen had the back door opening out to the back garden. Two sinks – one deep for washing and a wringer fitment in between them, a larder with a small mesh covered window and a stone shelf (fridges were for the future, in the country anyway). A small scrubbed table and a big press which housed all the cleaning things and the inevitable bits and pieces. A pulley hung from the ceiling, which was a boon on wet washdays.

Upstairs the two small attic rooms were furnished similarly with double beds, chests of drawers and chairs. My mother did not like lace or net curtains so all our windows were covered with floral cotton except for the living room where in the winter we had thick chenille ones. We did not have electricity so the rooms were all equipped with oil lamps.

[We also had a] big brass jellypan, yellow baking bowl and an enormous soup pot. Flat irons, a whistling kettle, which we thought very modern; my aunt had stuffed birds in glass cases, we did not like these but we had a big stuffed red fox!

Radios were still quite big but smaller portable Bakelite ones were available but expensive.

[The] gramophone in the sitting room and a collection of Will Fyffe, John McCormack and the Glasgow Orpheus Choir records and many others.

Nessie Gell

On personal hygeine

The bathroom was only used to wash in the morning and bedtime, other times when your hands were dirty you used the kitchen sink. Bathtime was still once a week and clothes were seldom changed oftener than once a week, shoes were cleaned every day though.

Nessie Gell

On standards of living in general

Longer-term householders still tend to be living in the farmhouses and larger houses within the parish. Farm cottages that are still habitable now seem to have a continual turnover of short-term tenants as have the four ‘council’ houses.

In the past, farm cottages [were] occupied by employees, [and the families were] usually husband and wife [and] possibly one or two children. Most cottages [had] one large living room with a kitchenette off, and two bedrooms upstairs with a bathroom off.

Fuel used was mainly coal and wood for heating. Many cottages did not have electricity until mid 1950s. Prior to this, paraffin lamps [were used] for lighting, and bottled gas was also used for cooking.

Practically every rural house had a garden [for] producing vegetables; many farm cottagers also kept hens. This is now non-existent as [since the] change to short-term tenancies, gardens are neglected.

Ivan Clark


There is a public water supply filtration plant situated at Papple. The public supply serves Papple, Whittingehame Mains, Luggate and Luggate Burn. A private water supply covers the whole of Whittingehame estate and part of Clint estate. This supply comes from a spring on Stoneypath farm. The water is of a very high quality.

All the farms and houses are connected to private septic tank systems.

There is mains electricity available throughout the parish, although it did not reach the hill areas until c1954. There is no mains gas, although there is limited use of LPG.

There is one public telephone, at Luggate Burn.

Terrestrial and satellite TV can both be received; mobile phones work in most parts of the parish. There are no mobile phone masts here.

There are a total of three street lights outside the four ‘council’ houses; the rest of parish is devoid of street lighting.

The whole parish has a regular rubbish collection.

Shops & Services

The only shop in the parish was the post office, which was located at Luggate Burn (opposite the smiddy) until c1972. Thereafter it was at 1 Whittingehame Mains Road; the post office also sold cigarettes and sweets until its closure in 1990.

Over the 55 years of this account, there has been a vast change in the services to the parish. Until the 1960s to early 1970s, many vans, including those of the East Lothian Co-op, served the area with groceries and bakery goods. There was also a separate Co-op fleshing van.

To c1960, there were also a number of independent traders that called. Bakers – Lister, East Linton; Black, East Linton; butchers – Hume, East Linton; Craik, East Linton; Tait, Haddington. Hardware came from Robertsons, Dunbar.

Until 1970 all types of food was delivered to rural areas by van… Most delivered twice weekly.

In 2000, there was only Johnson’s fruit and veg van calling on some homes around the Luggate area. The doorstep milk delivery service ceased in 2000.

The mobile library called regularly.

The blacksmith/farriers at Luggate Burn operated throughout the period. By 2000, it was operating as an agricultural engineers (see Economy). Farrier services were provided from outside the parish.

Like other parishes, to 1968, Whittingehame had its own resident registrar:

Being Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the parish of Whittingehame in the 1960s was an interesting occupation. As the years advanced, fewer people lived in the parish, mainly because farms became more mechanised, therefore fewer workers were required and many farm cottages became vacant. Having so few entries in the register meant that you referred to the rules book on a regular basis. The registrar in Dunbar, when required also gave help. Parents had just 21 days in which to register a birth, which could pose problems in winter.

The parish boundary began at Luggate, adjoining Prestonkirk, Stenton, Morham and Garvald across the Lammermuir Hills as far as Kilpallet, taking in farms such as Priestlaw, Penshiel and Shepherd’s Cottages, there adjoining Duns area. Being registrar was a good way of finding your way around the parish; registration was centralised for this parish to Dunbar in 1968.

I also acted as Census Enumerator, covering the parish with two others (as it was so large). We distributed census forms to every household, and collected them again on Census Day. This occurred every ten years, with a mini-census five years later. The majority of residents compiled their forms correctly, but on occasion an extra journey was necessary to correct mistakes.

It was interesting that in April 1971, the hill roads were barely passable after heavy snowstorms, and the enumerator had considerable difficulty in negotiating drifts around the Johnscleugh, Mayshiel and Kilpallet areas.

Lena Harrower


There are no healthcare facilities within the parish. General healthcare is centred around East Linton – at the local health centre there. Patients are dependant on the GP’s home visits if unable to travel to the surgery. Dental treatment is available in Haddington or Dunbar. The home help and meals-on-wheels services are provided from East Linton and Gifford.