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St Mary's Pleasance (also known as Haddington Garden)


St Mary's Pleasance was originally the site of the 17th- or 18th-century orchard associated with Haddington House. The walled area was laid out between 1973 and 1975 in compartments, following 17th-century principles of garden design and contains an orchard, a wildflower meadow, a viewing mount and a laburnum colonnade.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Location and Setting

Haddington Garden is situated on the east side of Haddington House on Sidegate, where the A6137 passes through the town of Haddington. The house forms part of the western boundary of the site which is otherwise enclosed by a stone wall. St Mary's Church lies to the south of the garden and, to its west and north, is the town of Haddington. East of the garden, a doocot stands in 'Lady Kitty's garden' which was once part of nearby Elin House. Both the doocot and the Cathedral can be seen from within the garden but otherwise views out are restricted by the boundary walls. Views into the garden are limited to the four perfect slot views gained through the four entrances: on Sidegate; through the gate linking the Cathedral with the garden; through the one door giving access from the Sands and river walk; and the iron gate giving access from the car park.

Haddington House lies on the western boundary of the garden, which extends over some 4 acres (1.7ha) and is enclosed by walls on all sides. Documentary evidence is confined to the 1st edition OS map of c.1850 and the 2nd edition OS map c.1900. Comparison of these maps with modern editions confirms that the extent of garden has not changed since these surveys were made.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Haddington House, listed A, is a 17th century building that stands on Sidegate and forms part of the western boundary of the site. The garden walls and gatepiers of the entrances to the garden from both Lady Kitty's Garden and St Mary's Church are listed B. The Apple House, listed B, is incorporated into the north wall of the garden. It dates from the 17th century or early 18th century and was formerly a two-storey building with a pigeon loft incorporated into the upper storey. The building was restored by the Hamilton family in 1975 as a memorial to the late Duke, at which time the top storey of the building was removed.

The Gardens

A series of small gardens and features are incorporated within the garden walls. The Sunk Garden is situated where there was formerly a car park, adjacent to the east side of Haddington House, and is laid out as a knot garden. The box-edged compartments enclose a variety of low-lying species which were introduced by the 17th century including Santolina neapolitan, Chamaecyparissus, Primula, Auricula, Rembrandt tulips and several varieties of sedge. On the sloping banks bordering the sunken garden, plants also introduced in the 17th century are well established, among them Hypericum calycinum, Teucrium chamaedrys and Saponaria officinalis 'Flore plena'. From this garden, a footpath leads along the north wall which is clothed with, amongst others, Ficus carica (introduced 1636). Between the path and the wall, roses and a wide range of herbs are grown in raised beds. Seats and picnic tables are situated in recesses between the raised beds. The path leads to the Apple House, midway along the north wall, opposite which lies the Cottage Garden, enclosed by fragrant shrub roses. A gap in the rose hedge on the south side of the Cottage Garden leads to the Orchard where a few fruit trees which predated the present garden remain, interplanted with other varieties introduced in the 17th century. Her Majesty the Queen and Her Majesty the Queen Mother have planted specimen trees here. The east side of the Orchard is retained by a low wall, beyond which lies the Meadow Garden. Here, a variety of spring flowers and bulbs have been planted amongst the grass. At the south end of the meadow is the Mount, a raised conical feature which was typical of the 17th century period of garden design. A pathway spirals up the Mount to a viewpoint at the top from where a view is gained of the whole garden and townscape. Opposite the Mount, along the south side of the orchard is the Pleached Alley. It is formed of laburnum trees (Laburnum alpinum, introduced 1629), trained over arches forming a shady walk to St Mary's Gate at the entrance to the churchyard. At the west end of the Pleached Alley, the path turns north along the Hornbeam Avenue which returns to the Sunk Garden.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

St Mary's Pleasance is a public space, open throughout the year.


The Haddington Garden Trust


The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

A very attractive re-creation of a 17th century garden, following the same design principles and using 17th century plants where possible. The garden also forms the setting for the category A listed Haddington House.

Site History

The garden was laid out between 1973-75 based on 17th century principles of garden design.

The garden site dates from the 17th or early 18th century and was the orchard associated with Haddington House. By 1972, it was in a derelict state and the late Duke of Hamilton donated the ground to the Haddington Garden Trust, a charitable organisation which he established to 'preserve the garden at Haddington House as an open public precinct and to develop it as an old Scottish Garden'. The Duke died in 1973 and the chairmanship of the Garden Trust was taken over by Sir George Taylor. It was Sir George who was chiefly responsible for the design of the garden, selecting the 17th century period for plant material, and modelling the sunken garden on the layout of the Queen's Garden at Kew, which he designed whilst Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens (1956-70). On completion of the garden in 1975, it was renamed St Mary's Pleasance.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • Prospect Mound
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Haddington House is a 17th century building that stands on Sidegate and forms part of the western boundary of the site.
  • Orchard
  • Planting
  • Description: Laburnum colonnade.
Key Information





Principal Building

Parks, Gardens And Urban Spaces





Open to the public


Electoral Ward

Haddington East/Athelstaneford




  • Historic Scotland