Construction of the parish church in Prestonpans began in 1595, and although it was refurbished in 1774 much of the older fabric still remains. In 1745 it was ministered by Rev William Carlyle, whose gravestone lies in the churchyard. His more famous son, Alexander (“Jupiter”) Carlyle was almost at the end of his university studies when the Rising broke out, and joined Cope’s army as a Volunteer. Together, father and son observed the movements of the Jacobite army at Tranent from the church tower.
On the east wall of the churchyward is a very fine but badly worn memorial to Captain John (Coltrane) Stewart of Lascelles’ Regiment. He refused to yield and was cut down in the fighting, and is the only soldier other than Gardiner to have a dedicated memorial.
There are a number of interesting gravestones around the churchyard, including that of the brother of the famous military cartographer General William Roy. There is also a monument to William Grant, Lord Prestoungrange, who as Lord Advocate in 1746 oversaw the implementation of the Act of Proscription in the aftermath of the Jacobites’ defeat.
The church was the setting for the Trust’s special 275th anniversary concert, “Beneath the Thorntree“. The video below gives a brief introduction to the churchyard: