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Seton Chapel / Seton, Collegiate Church Of St Mary And The Holy Cross, Seton Collegiate Chapel
- HER number: MEL528
- Site Name: Seton Chapel / Seton, Collegiate Church Of St Mary And The Holy Cross, Seton Collegiate Chapel
- Grid Reference: 341820 675109
- Civil Parish:
- Summary: Medieval collegiate church, later used as a burial vault
- Description: NT47NW 4.00 4182 7511
NT47NW 4.01 NT 4180 7505 Buildings
(NT 4182 7511) Seton Chapel (Burial Vault) (NAT)
formerly (NAT) Collegiate Church (NR)
OS 6" map, (1967)
The Object Name Book of the Ordnance Survey (ONB) describes the chapel thus : 'An old chaple situated near the N (sic) side of Seton House. It is of Gothic Architecture and still in a state of good preservation. "The old collegiate church of Seton is the finest monument of antiquity in the parish, and is an interesting specime n of Gothic Architecture, built in good taste". The date of the "oldest part is uncertain, but it must have been previous to the year 1390, for in the beginning of the reign of Robert III, Catherine Sinclair of Hermanston, the widow of Lord William Seton "beggit ane yle on the South syd of the parische Kirk of Seyton of fine Castle and founded one preist to serve their perpetuallie". Considerbale additions were subsequently made to this church by the Seton family, amny of whom expended large sums of mone y in decorating the mausoleum of their races. In 1544 the church was much destoryed by the English during the invasion of the Earl of Hertford. It afterwards suffered severely in succeeding revolutions (OSA 1841).
Name Book 1853
(1)-(6) Seton Church, dedicated in the names of St Mary and the Holy Cross, is one of the finest surviving collegiate churches in Scotland (see RCAHMS 1924 plan and illustrations). The unaisled parish church of Seton (dedicated in 1242) is represented by the ruined aisle walls of the nave which continued at least as far as the E walls of the transepts. The foundations under the S transept belong to a chapel built in or after 1434 by Catherine St Clair, wife of the first Lord Seton. The choir and sacristy were largely the work of the third Lord (obit 1478); the fourth Lord vaulted the W part of the choir and founded a college in 1492, and the choir was roofed with stone slabs and furnished by the fifth Lord (obit 1513). His widow Lady Jane Seton added the N transept by 1541 and the S one in 1545. The nave disappeared later, probably after 1580 when the parish was joined with Tranent. The spire was evidently never finished.
By the mid-19th century, the building had ceased to be used as a church and was in use as a burial vault; the windows were unblocked and restored by the Earl of Wemyss in 1878. An extensive programme of excavation and consolidation has been carried out by the DoE since the building came under guardianship in 1948.
C McWilliam 1978; DoE guide 1965; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1923; I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976; S Cruden 1958; 1965; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1979 (Donations).
Seton Collegiate Church is in good condition.
Visited by OS(BS) 16 October 1975.
(7) Before a new drainage system was installed around the church's exterior, five trenches were opened adjacent to the choir and transepts. As well as several disturbed graves, two reasonably intact burials were located, one of them aligned 180 degrees from the norm.
J H Lewis 1988.
(8) Historic Scotland Listed Building Description: Substantial remains of medieval collegiate church, originally cruciform in plan, with complex building history. Remains of 13th century nave to W; choir, sacristy and apsidal chancel, pre-1478, with W section of choir vaulted in 1492, and choir roofed and furnished pre-1513; N transept built prior to 1541; S transept rebuilt in 1545; N transept built prior to 1541; S transept rebuilt in 1545 on earlier foundations of Lady Catherine's Chapel; 2-stage central tower and incomplete broached octagonal stone spire, similarly earlier 16th century. Cream sandstone, squared and coursed in large blocks; base course, set-off wall and diagonal buttresses formerly with pinnacles (some retained), and with ornately carved corbels and hood-canopies intended for statues (?). Cavetto eaves course with carved fleuron. Stone mullioned pointed arch windows with chamfered and moulded reveals and loop tracery; hoodmoulds with label stops. Stone slates to choir and piend-roofed chancel, stone slabs to transepts. Square leaded glazing pattern; some coloured glass.
TOWER AND SPIRE: square tower at crossing; uneven gable line of former nave evidence on W elevation with tall pointed arch doorway formed from former opening to choir, cluster columns to jambs and carved impost bands; transepts to N and S sides; cill course dividing stages of tower, with lancet window to each elevation of upper stage. Stair tower to SE corner with arrow slits. Broached stone spire appears truncated; lead coping.
CHANCEL AND CHOIR: canted apse, buttresses dividing; 3-light window to E, 2-light to remaining sides. Gabled sacristy projecting to N side, square-plan; blank walls to N and W, 2 square windows to E. Round arched doorway (priest's door) in opposite bay to S; studded door; carved heraldic panel above. 3-light window to choir to N and S.
S TRANSEPT: large 4-light window to S gable with Y-tracery dividing; 2 3-light windows to W, and 2 blank bays to E.
N TRANSEPT: detailed as S transept.
INTERIOR: stone pointed barrel vault to choir and chancel; stone rigs lining E end of chancel; ribbed vault to base of tower, with circular opening in place of boss, giving view to tower above. Kell-shaped jambs to choir arch with carved impost bands. Tomb recess on N wall of chancel with stone effigies of knight and his lady; ornate piscina on S wall, flanked by credence shelf with moulded surround. Squinch in S wall of sacristy, chimneypiece to E, and memorial to 5th Lord Seton (d.1585). 2 baptismal fonts in transepts (1 certianly earlier 15th century), and Dutch bell, 1577; piscina in S transept; wall monuments in both transepts moved from choir, that in N transept to James Ogilvie, post 1617, and that in S, to James, 1st Earl of perth, post 1611. Stone newel stair to tower from S transept.
RETAINING WALLS WITH CARVED PANELS: sandstone rubble retaining walls with rubble coping; semi-circular archway to E with roll-moulded surround; round towers to corners of policies, and substantial buttresses. Carved panels of 17th century date from Palce of Seton (demolished in late 18th century), displayed on wall to NE corner of policies.
Monument in care of Secretary of State for Scotland. The nave probably became derelict after the Reformation when Seton parish was merged with Tranent. The ruins of a 16th century residence lie to SW of the policies, probably serving the Collegiate complex. Other collegiate churches in Scotland include those of Dunglass, Arbuthnot, Crichton, Corstorphine and Crail.
(9) Graham describes the grave monuments found within the church.
(10) NT 418 751 Archaeological monitoring was carried out in February 2004 during a programme of pipe trenching. The 120m of trenching revealed no features or finds of archaeological significance.
Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.
D Stewart 2004
(10) In October - November 2011 Headland Archaeology undertook an evaluation at Seton Sands Holiday Centre in advance of the construction of a new 9-hole golf course. Sections of a substantial ditch were identified in three trenches in the western part of the site. These may form part of the corner of a single, substantial boundary ditch due to their similar form, dimensions and the absence of any other ditches across the site. The presence of emmer wheat recovered from wet sieving of the fills of one ditch section tentatively suggests a prehistoric date, however, the small quantity and poor condition of the grain indicate it could also represent intrusive or re-worked material. It is more likely the ditch can be attributed a post medieval date, as a sherd of 16th/17th century green glaze pottery was retrieved from its basal fill. The presence of glass fragments and remnants of industrial waste in the ditch further support a later date. The ditch may have been constructed to enclose land associated with the 13th century Seton Collegiate Church or 16th century Seton Palace to the west. Herman Moll`s map of 1732 depicts a substantial square boundary around buildings marked ‘Seaton’, however the map cannot be used to accurately locate any features. The ditch was preserved in situ beneath the golf course.
- For more information contact: East Lothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- Bibliographic reference: Markus, M. 2007a. 'Seton Collegiate Church, East Lothian (Tranent parish), inventory', Discovery and Excavation, Scotland, 8, 2007, 77, Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire, England.. 77.
- Bibliographic reference: McGibbon, A. 1907. 'Melrose Abbey', Trans Scot Eccles Soc Vol. 2 Part 1 1906-7, p.151-4.
- Bibliographic reference: Ross, T. 1908a. 'Seton Church', Trans Scot Eccles Soc Vol. 2 Part 2 1907-8, p.321-9.
- Bibliographic reference: Fawcett, R. 2002. Scottish medieval churches: architecture and furnishings. 17, 42-43, 67, 75, 79, 84, 124, 175, ff.
- Bibliographic reference: Seton Chapel. 1959. 'The former collegiate Kirk at Seton' [photograph], Architect Prospect 1959, p.24. 24.
- Bibliographic reference: Hogg, S. 2007d. 'Seton Collegiate Chapel, East Lothian (Tranent parish), watching brief', Discovery and Excavation, Scotland, 8, 2007, 77, Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire, England.. 77.
- Bibliographic reference: Cruden, S. 1965c. 'Seton Chapel', Archaeol J Vol. 121 1964, p.170-1. 170-1. Plan, fig.1.
- Bibliographic reference: PSAS. 1958. 'Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library, Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 89 1955-6, p.458-66. 384.
- Bibliographic reference: Baldwin, J. 1997. Edinburgh, Lothians and the Borders, 2nd edition. 144-5. No. 64.
- Article in serial: Historic Scotland. 2008. Jewels from the East.
- Bibliographic reference: Baldwin, J R. 1985. Exploring Scotland's heritage: Lothian and the Borders. 102-3, no. 56.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: Stewart, D. 2004e. Seton Collegiate Chapel (Tranent parish), evaluation', Discovery Excav Scot, 5, 2004, p 46. . 46.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: McWilliam, C E. 1978a. Lothian except Edinburgh. 425-8. Plan.
- (10) Unpublished document: Robertson, A. 2011. Seton Sands Holiday Centre: Archaeological Evaluation.
- (10) Digital archive: Robertson, A. 2011. Seton Sands Holiday Centre: Archaeological Evaluation.
- (2) Bibliographic reference: DoE. 1965. Seton Collegiate Church. 1-3.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1924. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eighth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of East Lothian. 115-20, No.191. Plan, fig.161; Fi????B??????
- (4) Bibliographic reference: Cowan and Easson, I B and D E. 1976. 'Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man', 2nd edition. 226.
- (5) Bibliographic reference: Cruden, S. 1958b. 'Seton Collegiate Church', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 89 1955-6, p.417-37. 417-37. Plan, illustr.
- (6) Bibliographic reference: PSAS. 1979. 'Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 108 1976-7, p.384-389. 384.
- (7) Bibliographic reference: Lewis, J H. 1988a. 'Seton Collegiate Church (Prestonpans parish). Medieval church, graves', Discovery Excav Scot 1988, p.18. 18.
- (8) Bibliographic reference: Historic Scotland. Historic Scotland Listed Building.
- (9) Article in serial: Graham, A. 1960-61. 'Graveyard Monuments in East Lothian', PSAS 1960-61, p. 211-271. 253-5.