Gifford, East Lothian
Gifford shown within East Lothian
|OS grid reference|
|Council area||East Lothian|
|Lieutenancy area||East Lothian|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||East Lothian|
|Scottish Parliament||East Lothian|
The village takes its name from Sir Hugo de Giffard of Yester, whose ancient Scoto-Norman family possessed the baronies of Yester, Morham, and Duncanlaw in Haddingtonshire, and Tayling and Poldame in the counties of Perthshire and Forfar.
The first Hugo de Giffard's grandson, Hugh de Giffard, was a noted magician who built Yester Castle (half a mile south-east of the present-day Yester House), the ruins and an underground chamber (the 'Goblin Ha') of which can be seen in Yester Wood. The same Hobgoblin Hall featured in the poem "Marmion" by Walter Scott.
The initial chief industry in the town was the paper mill, which was once the source of the Bank of Scotland's bank notes. However, this mill closed in the late 18th century and since then the village has largely been residential and supported local farming communities, although a pottery, known as Castle Wynd Pottery, operated at Gifford for a short time in the 1950s.
The earliest recorded presence of a church in the area is in 1241, the ruins of which lie in the woods beside Yester House, to the south-west of the village centre. A church also once stood at Duncanlaw, a former settlement to the south-east of the main village. The present building (in the centre of the village) was built in 1710.
Infrastructure and amenities
Gifford was the terminus on a branch railway which was originally intended to extend to Garvald and was built by the Gifford and Garvald Light Railway Company. The company seal, which features the Mercat Cross, is in the Glasgow Museum of Transport. The line closed in 1947 following the loss of a bridge washed away by flooding. The line operated as far as East Saltoun until the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
The village has a school, church and several shops. There are two golf courses nearby, and a large park (the Bleachfield) lies near the centre of the village. The Gifford Cup is an annual golf event held in alternate years in Gifford Golf Club and Castle Park.
- Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007), composer, and former owner of Yester House.
- John Knox, the famous reformer of Scotland, was born in Gifford in 1505.
- Reverend John Witherspoon, was born in Gifford in 1723. He studied at the Haddington Grammar School, gained a Master of Arts from the University of Edinburgh in 1739, and was a Presbyterian minister in Beith, Ayrshire, before accepting an offer from Princeton in New Jersey to be their 6th President. He was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence of the United States, on 4 July 1776.
- Willie Wood, double Commonwealth Games Bowls gold medallist, is from Gifford. He learned the sport at the Gifford Bowling Club, and as well as a large collection of medals he holds the record of competing in seven Commonwealth Games.
- The ITV television series Adam Smith was filmed in and around Gifford in the early 1970s.
References and notes
- Gifford, John, East Lothian Villages, East Lothian, 1975
- McWilliam, Colin, Lothian Except Edinburgh, London, 1978: 215
- ed Smeaton, Oliphant, Poems of Scott - Marmion: The Host's Tale, London
- McWilliam, Colin, 1978: 209
- McWilliam, Colin, 1978: 208
- Burke, John, History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland - Volume 3, London, 1836: page 434/5
- Burns, David G. C., The Princeton Connection in The Scottish Genealogist, volume 52 number 4, Edinburgh, 2005