A Bit of History

The Village of Oldhamstocks

The name 'Oldhamstocks' (pronounced Oldhamstocks) is said to have come from an Anglo-Saxon source: 'Ald ham stoc' which means an old home or dwelling. The alternative theory is that it comes from the Gaelic 'Altan' and 'Stotan' meaning a small burn and tree trunks.

Oldhamstocks is said to be one of East Lothian's 'hidden villages' and certainly that is the impression given as you reach the Cocket Hat at the top of the Smiddy Brae and wonder where the village is.

The village consists of a single row of houses and at its West end, grouped round the green, are the former school and schoolhouse, the parish church and its manse, the market cross and a stone well for drinking water. The village smithy remains at the East end and the corn mill, now a house, is down by the burn. The site of the former inn, where Cromwell stayed, is still to be seen on the south side of the village where the old road from the South entered over Berwick Bridge.

Times have indeed changed, now that we have reached the 21st Century - the Census of Oldhamstocks from the Survey of 1791 makes interesting reading:

Families Occupation Souls
1 Residing Heritors 1
13 Farmers 59
42 Hinds 161
  Household Servants 57
10 Fishers 39
3 Wrights 15
3 Smiths 16
7 Weavers 28
5 Millers 27
2 Shoemakers 6
1 Tailors 3
1 Saddlers 4
1 Tidewaiters 2
8 Day Labourers 37
12 Householders & Single Women 23
1 Schoolmasters 5
1 Clergymen 3
111   498
*238 males and 260 females

The Parish Church has been in existence since before 1127. In that year, Adulph priest of Oldhamstocks, witnessed a charter of Robert, Bishop of St Andrews, to the monks of Saint Cuthbert of Coldingham. The church was consecrated in October 1242 by David, Bishop of St Andrews. The patronage of the church was vested in the Lords of the Manor, the Hepburns of Black Castle, a large manor house in the field opposite Oldhamstocks Cottage, long since disappeared in ruins.

From 1562 to 1672 there were nine Ministers of the church. Portraits of some of the recent Ministers now hang in the Vestry.

The graveyard is overlooked by a watch-house erected by Mrs. Agnes Moore, wife of a former Minister, who was alarmed at the emergence of the practice of body snatching for Edinburgh's medical students.

Oldhamstocks Cottage

The cottage is part of the former stable block serving the manse. The buildings were built at the same time as the manse, at the turn of the 19th Century. In 1969 the stable block was altered to form what is now the cottage - out went the horses and in came the facilities which effectively remain today.

Adjacent to the cottage is a Coach House (now garage) where the coach (as in 'coach and horses') was kept and the other buildings which make up the courtyard surrounding the cottage were all formerly connected to the stables ie for the grooms, a hay loft and so forth.

The plans showing the conversion of the stables into a dwelling house hang in the manse.

Contact us: olivia@oldhamstockscottage.com