Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.
Haddington High St, watercolour by Dorothea Nimmo-Smith

What to do in Haddington


The Nungate Bridge in Haddington, by Haugh

If you are visiting the John Gray Centre from out of town, it is well worth taking some time to explore Haddington: there is a wealth of history outside the John Gray Centre as well! Or, if you are visiting with companions perhaps our list will be of interest to them. Not everybody likes to sit inside catching up on history!  Additionally, if you are visiting for ancestral research then a walk around is almost essential to help place your relatives’ lives in context.

The John Gray Centre is in the heart of the town. From our doorstep you can begin to explore this historic royal burgh – be sure to pick up a copy of  ‘The Closes of Haddington – A Walking Tour through the backstreets of history’. You can find other information and many downloadable leaflets here. (If you’ve arrived at the Centre, you’ve probably already found the nearby car parks! If arriving by bus, get off at Court Street, Market Street or High Street.) High Street, Market Street and Court Street are all well provided with places to eat and drink. A monthly Farmers’ Market takes place on the latter.

Heading east down the High Street brings you to the Goat Stone and Hardgate and Sidegate, with Church Street ahead. Going down the latter passes the ancient burgh school (look for the plaques way above in the gables) and then into the Sands. There, the town’s old fire station is now Peter Potter Gallery. Beside it is Haddington’s original Bowling Green – believed one of the oldest in Scotland. By now you should see the ancient bridge leading to Nungate and an avenue of trees. Just beyond them is St Mary’s Church and kirkyard (somewhere we know is of interest to many of our visitors).

From this point you could cross the bridge and explore Nungate; continue down the path along the river to Waterloo Bridge and beyond (there are several means, usually on your right-hand side, to return to the town centre); explore the kirkyard; or nip in beside the path at the doocot to St Mary’s Pleasance. This restored walled garden is a wonderful green oasis: just perfect for sitting and reviewing all the information you’ve gathered after a hard session  at the Archives coal-face!

And finally, if your research extends beyond a day, then there are hotels and bed and breakfast establishments within easy reach. Although we cannot make recommendations ourselves, there are listings here, or via online listings and review websites. If you need further information about your intended visit to Haddington and the John Gray Centre, then please just get in touch and someone will try to answer your questions.

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