The Lasswade Churchyards

Lasswade has three churchyards clustered close together. The oldest dates back to the 13th century.

On the side of the hill above the village of Lasswade lie the three Lasswade churchyards. Two gateways give access to the two old churchyards, the centre gate access to the former manse. Immediately opposite, the new graveyard has striking early 20th century decorative wrought-iron entrance gates with flowers, square pavilions on both sides with flanking quadrant walls.

The first old churchyard access by the left gate contains the site of the 18th century church of which no trace remains. The church, in cruciform plan, was designed by the architect Robert Adam.

John Clerk of Eldin (1728-1812), the seventh son of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, lived nearby at Eldin. Clerk married Susannah, the younger sister of the architect Robert Adam. Clerk’s aim in living at Eldin was to allow himself the opportunity to pursue artistic and scientific pursuits. An accomplished draughtsman, he was illustrator to Sir John Hutton, the founder of modern geology. Clerk, however, is best known for his Essay on Naval Tactics (1782) which he worked out with model boats on the high pond at Penicuik House. Some of the models survive at Penicuik. Lord Nelson is said to have studied Nelson’s tactics and employed them in the battle of Trafalgar through directing the attack from a position to windward which follows Clerk’s proposals. Lord Cockburn said of him “an interesting and delightful old man; full of the peculiarities that distinguished the whole family –  talent, caprice, obstinacy, worth, kindness and oddity, equally fond of a joke and an argument.”

The second of the two older churchyards, entered via the right-hand gateway, dates from the 13th century. The medieval church’s site is now marked only by a few stones. The churchyard itself possesses many notable gravestones and three remaining burial aisles from the old, church. The first aisle is that of the poet William Drummond of Hawthornden, a bronze relief portrait of him over the door. The inscription is:

Here Damon lies,

whose songs did sometimes grace

The murmuring Esk.

May roses shade the place!

Drummond is one of the sixteen poets whose heads appear on the Scott Monument in Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

The next aisle is that of the Clerks of Eldin. Round the corner the Melville enclosure holds the graves of seven Viscounts Melville.

Against the north wall a late 18th century gravestone depicting two mining surveyors.

Charles Kennington is buried in the Old Lasswade Churchyard. Young Kennington and his colleague Charles Jenner took an afternoon off to go to the Musselburgh races. Unfortunately they omitted to agree this arrangement with the management of the drapers shop in Waterloo Place where they worked. They found themselves, on their return, without employment. In 1838 they rented a property at the corner of Princes Street and South St David’s Street and opened their own business –  Kennington and Jenner. Kennington however retired well before Jenner who continued to build up the much loved department store.

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