I took a walk to the Village of Lasswade yesterday to explore the Old Kirk and Kirkyard. It is only a 4-mile walk from my cottage, but it’s my first time visiting the village. And even then, it was only because I had to walk to Bonnyrigg a little further along (more on that visit here).
Indeed, if it wasn’t for the fact that I needed to walk to Bonnyrigg, I might never have known the kirk existed. However, when I was looking for the best route for my destination, I noticed the kirk and decided to include time for a visit along the way. (I was walking as I am still avoiding public transport, during my slow return to The Real World.) Of course, because I was just “passing through”, I didn’t get a chance to explore the rest of the village but I think I’ll make time for that soon!
The Lasswade Old Kirk, built in the 13th century, was dedicated to St Edwin and was consecrated by David De Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews, in 1240. It was abandoned in 1793 in favour of a new church (which itself was demolished in 1959 after a decade of disuse because it was deemed unsafe). The original church was a single oblong chamber measuring about 20 feet wide, with a 16-foot square belltower at the west end. The belltower fell in 1866 and much of the original 13th-century church is gone, with only a fragment of the south wall remaining – much of which is covered in ivy.
A series of mausoleums surround the original footprint of the church, either as converted aisles or purpose-built burial chambers. This includes a mausoleum for Drummond of Hawthornden (a Scottish poet who died 1649) to the west of the site, near the belltower. It was restored in 1892 using a medieval floriated finial cross from the old church erected above the entrance and was restored again in 1993. Next to that, on the northside of the church, a 17th-century aisle was converted into a mausoleum for the Clerks of Eldin, known as the Eldin Aisle. It boasts an intact transitional window that offers glimpses inside.
Further along on the north side of the building, towards the east, is the Calderwood enclosure. It’s an interesting enclosure in that there is a hooped iron roof that may have been a mortsafe from the days of graverobbing – which was a legitimate concern in Lasswade in the 1800s. Another note of interest is that the memorial stones are outside of the enclosure, on the south wall, but the entrance is to the north. I imagine this will be due to changes in the layout of the site over the centuries.
At the far east end of the old church is the Melville mausoleum built for the Dundas family, including early Viscounts Melville. There is a tree growing through it that I expect will one day take over the enclosure if caretakers of the site don’t intervene.
There is an interesting collection of grave markers throughout the kirkyard, including some notable carvings and a large memorial to Baird Smith just outside of the kirk walls. I will add notes to the photo descriptions where I have information.
I will update this post if I learn more about the site. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some photos to enjoy.
Content credit: In addition to Google searches, much of this content was found on Canmore (Scotland’s national record site for the historic environment) and information boards at the kirk.