| remains or has been, there is sure to be a dovecot adjacent
Through this we have been led to inquire, What if the ancient
church of Preston, the church which Hertford burned along
with Preston Tower in 1544, was situated in this neighbourhood?
If all the family papers in connection with the Tower and
Preston estate were destroyed with the Tower in 1544, very
likely all papers and books in connection with the sacred
edifice would be destroyed during the same conflagration;
at all events not a vestige remains, or at least has ever
turned up, to show whether that church was located in upper
or lower Prieststown. The House of Newbattle had no sympathy
with the Reformation which set in during this period, and
so they let not only the old monkish building go out of existence,
but allowed all knowledge of its whereabouts to die with it.
If it was located in the upper village, which Davidson's "
appointment to South Prestoun" plainly indicates, then
it was undoubtedly situated in this opening. Whether there
ever was a churchyard adjoining it would be difficult to determine,
but a great many stones built into the west dyke have inscriptions
on them, and look as if they were parts of old tombstones,
while no end of broken-up fluted columns are wedged into all
the surrounding walls. These look as if they had been previously
used for church building purposes.
Our earliest impressions were, that if the original church
was located at Preston it must have been adjacent to the Tower;
but Preston Tower is situated within the barony of Preston,
with which the monks of Newbattle had nothing to do, whereas
Northfield is situated within the barony of Prestongrange,
with which they had much to do.
THE DOWER HOUSE, OR BARRACKS.
The building known by the above names is situate about the
centre of the old village of Preston. Its front faces southwards.
It is a two-storied building of no great height, with three
very smart little upper windows, high peaked. Over the west
window are a coat of arms and the letters I. H., evidently
meant for John Hamilton. On the centre window is a monogram
forming the letters K. H. S., with the date 1628, while over
the eastern window is another coat of arms and the letters
Proceeding down the thoroughfare northwards leading to Prestonpans,
the fine hollow squire of the old house looking westwards
catches the eye. That this has been the chief entrance to
the house is evident from the fine fluted stonework abounding
alike over doors and windows.
What seems to have been the main door on the outshot part
of the building is clumsily built up, and another broken out,
simply spoiling a very handsome building.
Over this doorway is a beautifully cut shield, in grand preservation;
beneath it are two rose branches, one spreading either way;
on the lower part of the shield is a finely-cut rose or cinquefoil,
on the opposite side a star. On the upper side of the shield
are two roses or cinquefoils, and opposite them are three
circles, while rising proudly up over the shield is a very
large rose or cinquefoil.
High over the chief entrance is a neatly-cut window, surmounted
by a thistle head of no mean growth. Beneath the thistle are
the finely-carved face and wings representative of an angel,
while beautifully cut out in the stone beneath the window
is the following: —
" Praised be the Lord, my
Strength and my Redeemer. "
This house is set down in certain gazetteers as that which
was built for Hamilton when he was burned out of Preston Tower
by Lord Hertford. Now, as the Tower was burned by Hertford
in 1544; repaired, and again inhabited; burned down by Cromwell
in 1650, and again repaired and inhabited; burned accidentally
in 1663, never more to be inhabited; and that Preston House
was built the following century as a substitute, — it is evident
this was built in 1628 for a very different purpose.
It was originally called the Dower House. Thus it would seem
to have been built for a Dowager Lady Hamilton. It is evident
that Sir John Hamilton seems to have been the builder, and
probably K. S. was his mother, the widow of Sir George Hamilton.
Sir John's second wife died in 1629, and he had a third wife.
If his widowed mother was still alive previous to 1628, it
need cause no surprise if she, amid the coming and going of
her various daughters-in-law, expressed a desire for a habitation
of her own, and had the Dower House built. Whoever the house
was built for, it has served many purposes since then, not
the least among which was that of a barracks for a portion
of the army during the great " French invasion "
scare about 1797.
In connection with this subject, said the late General Sir
Robert Cadell: " It may be interesting to state that