HISTORY OF THE CURRENT PRESTON HOUSE, PRESTON ROAD
Christina and Malcolm Strachan
The current Preston House was built around 1861 and. at the time.
was known as Preston Cottage. The history' of the Iand transactions
from the Register of Sasines. held in the Library in Haddington.
disclose that William Duthie. late of the IsIand of Jamaica',
disposed of Iands on the south side of the Street of the Village
of Preston, to James Walker WS Nov. 14. 1786. and he to his son
Francis Walker WS Dec. 3. 1817. Whether these Iands included that
of the current Preston House is not certain. However, in 1847
we find an entry' for Nov. 30 when William Hume of Preston Cottage
acquired property' including '...and Office Houses and Well belonging
thereto on the south side of the High Street of Preston...'. The
well could be that in the grounds of the current Preston House.
From an entry' in Apr. II. 1843 we learn that William Hume. an
Edinburgh Plumber, acquired from Alexander Cockburn a surgeon
of Edinburgh, \..a Piece of ground with the Mansion House, Offices
and other Houses and Biggings thereon, and Orchard, Park and Garden
thereof, on the south side of the Village of Preston...'.
From an entry' in May 16. 1847 when William Hume's estate is disposed
of to his son and heir John Kippen Hume. we learn that William
Hume had acquired \..the Mansion House. Offices and other houses,
&c thereon, and Tiends, bounded on the north by the Road east
and west through the said Village of Preston, which Mansion House
and others were pulled down by said William Hume. and in lieu
thereof he built a Cottage and others thereon known as Preston
Cottage...'. This entry also refers to '...and which Subjects...
divided by Walls, are now known by the names of PRESTON LODGE,
PRESTON COTTAGE and ATHELSTANE LODGE:'. This entry would locate
Preston Cottage on the approximate site of the current Preston
John Kippen Hume was an Assistant Conservator of Forests in Rangoon,
British Burmah and disposed of Preston Cottage on Aug. 7, 1871
to a Robert White, Engraver & Lithographer Abercromby Place.
Edinburgh. The entry in the register refers to the Well '...declaring
that the Proprietors of the subjects called Athelstane Lodge shall
have right to the use of the Well sunk within the subjects disponed
and near the west boundary thereof, and the privilege of a sunk
Pipe therefrom across said ground of Preston Cottage communicating
the Water to the Pump in Athelstane Lodge'. The Well in Preston
House is still in existence, augmented by partial run-off from
the roof of Preston House and out-buildings. There is also an
old hand pump to raise water from the well. The pump was dismantled
many years ago but the parts remain and it is the current owner's
intentions to restore it to full use.
An entry in the Register of Sasines dated Oct. 2, 1915 for the
Trustees of the late George Greig Moncur of Preston Lodge, refers
to '...of Piece of ground, with the Dwelling House sometime called
Preston Cottage now known as Preston House...'. Preston House
passed to his widow Mary Smart or Moncur on Nov. 8. 1915. This
George Moncur was in the partnership 'McKenzie & Moncur' who
were 'Purveyors of Hoi Houses to their Majesties', examples of
which still abound in East Lothian. It is believed that the cast
iron railings surmounting the roofs of Preston Lodge and Preston
House were installed as advertising to travellers on the Edinburgh
to London Road which passed by the properties to the south.
The name Preston House first appears in 1894 in the Valuation
Roll. but in the census of 1861 Preston Cottage contains 15 windowed
rooms, as it does today. In 1861. the owner was William Hume [aged
72, born Athelstaneford] who lived there with his wife Jessie
[aged 56. born Kelso). Janet AlIan the Cook [born Tranent], Catherine
Adamson the House Maid [born Cupar] and Peter Bathgate the Valet
George Greig Moncur and his wife Mary had a daughter Georgina
Ann Greig who married a Mr W E Wallace. Mr & Mrs Wallace lived
in Preston House. Mr Wallace joined the 8th Royal Scots in the
1st World War. Lieut. W E Wallace was killed along with his nephew,
2nd Lieut. J M Moncur. by the same shell on the 17th April at
the Battle of Arras. In 1919 ownership of Preston House passed
to Georgina Wallace on the death of her Mother.
Lieut. and Mrs Wallace had an only daughter. Violet, who lived
at Preston House until her death in 1993. Preston House was purchased
from Miss Wallace's estate in 1994 by Malcolm and Christina Strachan.
Preston House, as it is today, still with the ornamental railings
on the roof