View of Pinkie House from the Roy Map, 1747.
View of Pinkie House from the Roy Map, 1747.
© National Library of Scotland



Pinkie House, early 1900's.
Pinkie House, early 1900's.



Details from the Long Gallery at Pinkie House, 2004.
Details from the Long Gallery at Pinkie House, 2004.
The Seton Collection © 2005



Rear view of Pinkie House, 2004.
Rear view of Pinkie House, 2004.
The Seton Collection © 2005

The oldest part of Pinkie House is the massive central tower erected by the Abbots of Dunfermline, probably dating from the late fourteenth century. A hundred years later were added the rooms immediately to the north comprising approximately what is now the Housemaster’s house. Around 1597 the building came by inheritance into the hands of Alexander Seton, King James VI’s Chancellor.

He was a man of considerable distinction and was held in such high esteem by the King that when, in 1603, the latter left for London to add the throne of England to that of Scotland he entrusted into Seton’s charge and tutelage at Pinkie, his son Charles, later to become King Charles I.

It has always been assumed that Charles, during his three years’ stay there, occupied what is still called ‘the King’s Room’.

Seton, after his marriage to Margaret Hay in 1607, extended the building southwards to include the Long Gallery with its Painted Ceiling, and the Library and. Drawing Room below it. He decorated the interior with excellent plaster ceilings and improved the south wing, now the Headmaster’s house. However, he appears to have been only partially satisfied with these very considerable extensions for there is a well-known inscription on one of the walls which states: ‘Alexander, Lord Seton, built this house in 1613, not as he would have wished, but according to the measure of his means and estate’.

Pinkie was witness to several stirring events in Scotland’s history. Located at Pinkie Cleugh between Musselburgh and Wallyford, the Battle of Pinkie took place on the 10th September, 1547. It was precipitated by the reneging of a promise by the Scottish Parliament following the death of King James V in 1542 that the young Mary Queen of Scots could marry Prince Edward of England. Having given the promise in the Treaty of Greenwich in 1543, within a year the Scots took the view that a marriage to the Dauphin of France would give rise to a more strategically valuable alliance.

Thus King Henry VIII directed the English army, under the Duke of Somerset, to begin a campaign known as the 'Rough Wooing' which involved incursions into Scotland in 1544 and 1545. Henry died in January 1547 and Somerset, now Protector or guardian of the young King Edward VI, attacked again in 1547. 

The much larger, but less disciplined, Scottish army under the indecisive James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran (1516-75), was caught between the English army and cannon-fire from the English fleet lying offshore. More than half of the Scottish army were killed or injured. While the Scots suffered a serious defeat, the English lost out too because the battle simply sped the marriage between Mary and the Dauphin and the alliance with France.

The ceiling of the Long Galery, at Pinkie House.In 1567, twenty years after the disastrous Battle of Pinkie, when it was said that the Pinkie Burn ran with blood for three whole days, the Confederate Lords of Scotland took prisoner their sovereign, Mary Queen of Scots, at Carberry Hill, only two miles away to the south-east, before imprisoning her at Loch Leven and then banishing her to England. In 1650 the troops of Cromwell were encamped on the Links at Musselburgh, where they remained for nearly two months before withdrawing to Dunbar to inflict another defeat on the Scots.

But the highlight must have been in 1745 when, following the Battle of Prestonpans, the Long Gallery was used as a casualty station (the bloodstains from the wounded are still visible) and Prince Charlie spent two nights in the King’s Room before setting out on his journey to receive the acclamation of the citizens of Edinburgh.

Pinkie passed to Seton’s grandson, Sir John Hay, later 1st Marquess of Tweeddale, and remained in that family until 1788, when it was acquired by Sir Archibald Hope, 9th Baronet of Craighall, in Fife.

The latter’s son, Sir John, in about 1826 enlarged the policies and added the portico entrance on the west side of the house and the broad open stairway behind it where his portrait now hangs.

He also reconstructed the south wing, adding a new façade on its north wall and the two-storeyed bow window on the south.

The Hope family continued to own Pinkie until the then Baronet, another Sir Archibald Hope, sold it to Loretto in 1951, since when it has become an intrinsic part of the School.

Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom (from 1603)
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