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Seton House

Country House (18th Century) (1789)-(1791)

Site Name Seton House

Classification Country House (18th Century) (1789)-(1791)

Alternative Name(s) Seton Palace; Seton Castle; Wemyss Estate

Canmore ID 54940

Site Number NT47NW 3

NGR NT 41734 75084

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Tranent
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT47NW 3.00 NT 41734 75084

NT47NW 3.01 NT 41839 74918 Garden, Cottage

NT47NW 3.02 NT 4174 7506 Gardens

NT47NW 3.03 NT 4171 7521 Orchard

NT47NW 3.04 NT 41803 75054 Bridge

see also - Nt47NW 4.00, 4.01 and NT47SW 72 NT 41818 74977 Garden cottage

(NT 4172 7508) Seton House (NAT)

on site of Seton Castle (NR)

OS 6" map (1967)

The Object Name Book of the Ordnance Survey (ONB) describes the house as 'A large and handsomely built mansion, in good repairs having garden and a few acres of ornamental ground attached. The property of the Earl of Wemyss.

This house is built upon the site of "Seton Palace or Castle" which formerly belonged to the Earls of Winton, but were deprived of 'by forfeitture in 1715', from their devoted attachement to the Stewart family. "The old Palace of Seton", with its fine gardens and terraced walks, which the Monarchs of Scotland and their court in former times delighted to visit, are now no more. The remains of the former having been pulled down by the late proprietor, to build a "modern mansion" (New Statistical Account [NSA] 1841).

'Near the W side of the house is part of the old castle consisting of a ruinous apartment dimensions of which is about 9 feet by 7 the walls are about 4.5 feet thicvk. It is spposed to have been the prison of the Castle and is usually called the jail by the inhabitants of the immediate vicinity'.

Name Book 1853

Seton House, built in 1790, is an outstanding example of a large castellated mansion designed by Robert Adam. It occupies the site of Seton Palace, a late 16th century house, built on an L-plan with a tall square tower. The 17th century garden walls, with round corner towers, associated with the Palace, still survive, and a small collection of pediments and other architectural fragments from the Palace has been set up near Seton Chapel (NT47NW 4, at NT 4182 7511).

C McWilliam 1978; S Cruden 1958; Name Book 1853; NSA 1845 (J Henderson); RCAHMS 1980

Seton House is a large modern mansion, occupied and in good order.

Visited by OS (BS) 15 October 1975

Architecture Notes


OWNER: Earl of Wemyss

OCCUPIER: Capt. A.R.C. Stevenson

ARCHITECT: Robert Adam 1789

Seton Palace demolished in 1790.


Scottish Record Office

Seton Castle.

Contract for building Seton Castle between Alexander Mackenzie and Adam and Thomas Rusel.

1789 GD 18/4965

National Library

Country Life, 23 May, 1968. Article and photographs by John Fleming.

EL. Agriculture Survey 'p 33 " Seton House, which presented one of the most regular and pleasing plans of any ancient fabric in the county, was some years since pulled down by Mr Mackenzie, the late proprietor, and rebuilt, in a style of architecture peculiar to itself, and which admits of no accurate description'. 1805.


Photographic Survey (1953)

Photographic survey by the National Buildings Record Scottish Council in 1953.

Geophysical Survey (26 September 2017 - 14 November 2017)

NT 4173 7507 (NT47NW 3) Ground resistance surveys were undertaken, 26 September – 14 November 2017, in the grounds of Seton House (also known as Seton Castle). The main survey covered most of the grassed area around the house. A subsidiary survey covered a small area to the W

where the 1st Edition OS map showed a small ruin.

The objective of the survey was to look for features that might pre-date the construction of the present Seton House in 1790. High resistance areas were found to the S and to the W of the present house. There were also faint possible high resistance features to the NE of the house. No clear features suggestive of the ruin were detected in the subsidiary survey.

Funder: EAFS and Gordon Neil

Don Matthews – Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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