| Sir William Gomme, Commander-in Chief in India, who died
a few years ago at a very advanced age, shortly before his
death met with a gentleman who came from this neighbourhood
" — we always understood the gentleman to be General
Cadell himself from his manner of telling the story—"
on hearing 'Prestonpans' mentioned, the old veteran said he
had not been there since he was little more than a boy, when
he was quartered at Preston, with a company of his regiment,
in an old house near the Tower. He had a perfect recollection
of the locality, and said his first experience of actual campaigning
was when an alarm came that the French had landed, and his
company marched at night the whole way to Linton before they
heard that it was a false alarm. He mentioned also that if
the stones in the courtyard of the old house were examined
slits would be found in them which were formed by his men
sharpening their bayonets on the sandstone, and that the word
' Buonaparte' would be seen cut out of the stone with the
same weapon. "
Sir Robert informed us that he took an early opportunity,
on returning from abroad, of going to Preston and looking
for the marks in the sandstone and finding several of them.
This is also referred to in " Tranent and its Surroundings.
This charming abode, with its two carriage gateways and various
other entrances, and surrounded as it is with its venerable
and majestic walnut trees; its wide branching chestnut, and
countless other natives of the forest; its vineries and greenhouses;
its fruit and its flower gardens; and, not the least of its
beauties, the lovely lawn-tennis ground in front of the dwelling-place,
—all in all, and, at any season of the year, is a picture
worth seeing, and seeing, to be admired.
It was not always thus. At an early period a very lovely but
diminutive-looking dwelling-house was planted here. Who were
its original occupants it would be hard to find out; but
towards the latter end of last century, and running well into
the present, it belonged to and was occupied by a Colonel
Cameron. This gentleman was a famous breeder of staghounds.
The late Mr M'Alpine, beadle in the parish church under Dr
Struthers, took service, when quite a boy, under Colonel Cameron
to attend to his dogs, and remained in his service for well-nigh
About 1843 Mr Hume, retired plumber and brassfounder from
Edinburgh, bought the property, pulled down the old house,
and built a new one in its stead. This gentleman was wont
to take great interest in the Chapmen's Association, and in
their annual gatherings and services at the Cross. He had
a round tower built in his garden, placed seven small pieces
of artillery on it, and annually when the chapmen arrived
they had a hearty welcome from the cannon's mouth.
About 1873 Mr R. L. M. Kitto, manager to the then Prestongrange
Coal Company, became possessor of the property. This gentleman
made additions to the house, adding greatly to its picturesqueness.
Dr William Ireland, an author, whose works have not only been
largely commented on and favourably reviewed by the press,
but several have been translated into other languages, was
the next occupier as tenant for a number of years.
In 1895 Mr George Moncur, of Mackenzie and Moncur, Vinery
and Hothouse builders to His Majesty King Edward VII., became
proprietor of the estate, and at once took up his residence
there, and to this gentleman the honour of making the place
a perfect little paradise belongs. If there is a dark neuk
in the grounds he has it quickly brightened with evergreens,
and if there is an ungainly spot to be seen within the demesne
he has it straightway turned into a bed of roses.
That cozy little cottage occupied by Mr A. Purves, who is
also proprietor, known by the name of Athelstane Lodge, is
said to have been occupied at one time by Lord Athelstane,
a Lord of Session, and hence its name. It may or may not have
been a home of Lord Athelstane, but we know it was a habitation
of Lord Cullen, another Lord of Session. This Lord Cullen
was the father of William Grant, who became Lord Prestongrange,
and whose descendants still hold the proud position of proprietors
of that ancient barony.
MARKET GARDENING IN PRESTON—JOHN WEIGHT.
There are at least four parties in Preston connected with
the market gardening industry. These are Messrs Wright, Wilson,
Crichton, and Gillies, taking them as they come from the eastern
extremity of the village.
Who has not heard of the Wrights of Preston? It is an old
name in the district, —one, indeed, which carries us back
to the days of the Young Chevalier. The great grandfather
of the present tenant was eleven years old when the battle