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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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after a while, perhaps for a diversity, it became better known
as Salt Preston.
Seeing that the monks of Newbattle had their habitation in the immediate neighbourhood, it is but reasonable to suppose that they would have a place of worship not far off. The Abbey of Holyrood had already secured the church at Tranent and all the tithes pertaining thereto. The Abbey of Newbattle secured a habitation on the same great estate, but it did not acquire the same privileges as its forerunner. Thus we find the church of Preston entitled " a vicarage of the Abbey of Holyrood, " and this explains the cause of the dispute that raged for so many years between the rival abbeys about the tithes of these lands, ultimately settled by compromise, favourable to the Abbey of Holyrood.
It is a matter of history that the church of Preston, together with Preston Tower, was burned by Lord Hertford and his English army previous to the battle of Pinkie in 1544. The tower was repaired and inhabited once more, and there is no doubt about its original situation. But where the church was situated there is not the least hint given. The upheaval which was ultimately to culminate in the overthrow of the Romish Church in Scotland had already set in. The monks of Newbattle seem to have scented defeat from afar, and let their church at Preston go with the flames; but they took very good care to retain the lands for the lords of Newbattle. In that curious old opening east of Northfield House known as " Katie Herrin's Close " some curious things may be observed. In the old walls, for instance, there are several arches, while the crumbling walls themselves seem to have been repaired betimes with stones removed from some church or churchyard. They are covered with defaced inscriptions. There is an old bell suspended from a tree not far off, and an old church pillar in the neighbourhood of the cross, both of which were known to have belonged originally to this close. We know that a very large brewery once existed here. The arches in the walls may have led to the brewery vaults, or they may have led to the vaults of a church. But inscriptive stones have more to do with a burial than a brewery place. A graveyard may also have been here, and from the fact of Davidson being appointed to South Preston, the original church may also have been here.
It is a historical fact that the monks had many processions from their church at Preston by way of Bankton (Holy Stop) to the Abbey of Newbattle.
If tradition holds true, there were many processions along
this route besides these monkish ones, and not all so quietly conducted. This being the main highway not only between Holyrood House and Seton Palace, but many other noblemen's seats, "there were, " it is said, " continual royal and other processions along this way, and that these were often the scene of more merriment than discretion. "
If these are tales of verity, surely the people of Preston would have a hand in the merriment as well as the comers and goers, else why should such indiscretions as are hinted at have been more observable at Preston than anywhere else along the route? And yet, when glancing at the inscriptions over the doorways of houses erected here some three hundred years ago, the sacred tone of these inscriptions is apt to make the observer think very different things of the people.
If they were given to over-indulgence at times, they were not so much afflicted it seems for their sins and shortcomings as other villagers around them; for it is on record that, while neighbouring hamlets were smitten with nearly every trouble that swept over the land, the village of Preston was scarcely ever at all affected. More especially was this observable during the ravages of the great black plague; while other districts lay stricken to death beneath it, the "angel of darkness and destruction " never halted to look in at the village of Preston at all, and " out of gratitude for this memorable interposition of providence " the proprietor of Preston House had cut out over his door the following inscription, " No plague shal. near thy dwelling come. No ill shall thee befall. " Possibly the plague of 1797 was here referred to. If the above inscription was over the south door it is gone for ever, because that side of the house was erased long ago; but if it were over the north door, there it remains snugly ensconced behind a heavy coat of firmly intertwined ivy, never more to be read till the woodman with his glittering hatchet makes a clearance.
There is no doubt, however, concerning one royal procession which passed through the old village of Preston, and this was in 1616. During 1892, the County Council caused a cutting for a waterway to be made down through what was wont to be the eastern portion of the old village highway, and during their operations they came upon a causeway about two feet beneath the present roadway, consisting for the most part of whinstone very much worn.
This is understood to have been thoroughly repaired at the instigation of Sir John Hamilton of that ilk, and there is no
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