Located 18 miles (29 km) east of Edinburgh, and sited on both sides of the River Tyne. Haddington was one of Scotland's first Royal Burghs (created sometime between 1124 and 1153) and was long the namesake of East Lothian (Haddingtonshire). It has a mediaeval triangle of streets (Court Street, Market Street, High Street and Hardgate), and several preserved buildings from the 17th through to the 19th centuries (the Town House, Jane Welsh Carlyle House, Mitchell's Close, Haddington House, and the Corn Exchange). The Nungate Bridge still has an iron hook from which criminals were hung.
It is also referred to as the 'Lamp of Lothian', originating from the same title given to a Franciscan church in the history of Scotichronicon, and destroyed in 1356. Others have referred to the 14th-century Church of St. Mary as the 'Lamp of Lothian', possibly for its red sandstone and its earlier crown steeple. Known as Scotland's 'largest parish church' it was damaged by the Earl of Hertford in 1548 and a significant part of the building remained in ruins until the 1970s.
John Knox grew up here, frequently hearing the reformer George Wishart preach. Jane Welsh Carlyle, wife of Thomas Carlyle, was born here in 1801, as was Samuel Smiles (1812 - 1904) of 'self-help' fame.
There is an 18-hole golf course at Amisfield Park.
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