Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bankton House

This lovely house is just south of Prestonpans in West Lothian.  Well known to  drivers on the A1 travelling east from Edinburgh...... at least those who do not keep their eyes on the road. So beautiful, it really is hard to resist a glance. The 17th century mansion is covered in a distinctive ochre harling and is flanked by two symmetrical pavilions. On one side is a doocot (with a small exhibition about Bankton House on the ground floor).

The other pavilion was once an apple store and has now been converted into a dwelling.

The original building on the site was erected by the monks of Newbattle, in the 12th century.  Then it was known as Holy Stop, later corrupted to Oliestob. At the Reformation Oliestob like the rest of the property belonging to Newwbattle Abbey passed into the hands of Mark Kerr, 1st Earl of Lothian.

 In 1742 the estate was purchased by Col. Gardiner who was killed within sight of his house, after fighting on the losing side, against Bonnie Prince Charlie at the battle of Prestonpans on 21st September 1745. The house was then bought  by Edinburgh advocate Andrew McDoull, who took the title Lord Bankton when he was appointed to the bench. His title then became attached to the house.

In the 20th century the house became acquired by the state owned National Coal Board who had a colliery next door. From its ruinous state the building was converted into four flats between 1988 and 1995. The orchard on the north side of the house was replanted with old varieties of apples, pears, medlars, quinces, gauges and plums. The apple crop goes to make cider. The five residents of Bankton House all have to agree, should they wish to change the colour of the lovely ochre harl. Here's  hoping for perpetual disagreement.