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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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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 fifty years.
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.
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 of
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