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St Edwin, Lasswade, Midlothian

(55°52′58″N, 3°7′3″W)
NT 3018 6610
pre-1975 traditional (Scotland) Midlothian
now Midlothian
medieval St. Andrews
medieval St Edwin
  • James King
  • James King
27 Feb 2021

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Feature Sets

A blocked doorway with tympanum in the N wall, the remains of a stringcourse on the original nave exterior and a section of base stones are the only carved features that survive from the 12th or early-13th century church. A north extension was built off the N side of the nave in the 17th century, but in 1793 a newly constructed church, on a new site, was opened. The old church was abandoned and quickly turned into burial enclosures. As the ruins deteriorated, the W tower became dangerous, so in 1866 work was begun to strengthen it. During the operations, the tower collapsed. Some drawings made before this show the structure as it formerly existed, including the exterior of the doorway on the S side of the nave.


It is likely that Lasswade was an earlier religious site, as fragments of two early, carved stones have been found (now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh). Little early documentation for Lasswade and it’s church, however, survives. In 1148 and again about 1150, Walter of Lasswade (Gaufrido de Laswade and G. de Lesswade) witnessed charters of the Bishop of St Andrews. Specific reference to the church first appears in 1240, when David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews, dedicated it at the beginning of a campaign to dedicate all the parish churches in his diocese. In Bagimond’s papal taxation roll of 1274/5, Lasswade, which was listed as a vicarage, had an assessed papal tax value of 2 marks for the first year and 1 mark for the second. St Edwin’s church had become a mensal church of the bishopric of St Andrews by 1298, and most likely by 1274. How early this annexation occurred is unknown. In 1296, a certain Nicolas is listed as 'vicar' ecclie de Lessewade' (from Rotuli Scotiae). In 1465 St Edwin's Church was united with the mensa of St Salvator’s College in St Andrews, at which time the parson became a canon of the college. Difficulties in this relationship followed, but in 1477/8 St Edwin’s became a prebend of St Salvator’s. Then, in 1482, the prebend was united, instead, with the archiepiscopal mensa. This, too, fell apart, so in 1487 the archbishop surrendered his rights over the church, and the parsonage and vicarage of Lasswade were annexed to the deanery of the collegiate church of Restalrig (Edinburgh), which King James III of Scotland had founded. St Edwin was an early Northumbrian saint. The only church in Scotland known to have been dedicated to him was that at Lasswade


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses



Suggestions for the date for the core of the medieval church is often put as 13th century, shortly before the first reference to it. But as there is no known specific connection between Bishop de Bernham’s dedications and the construction of the churches he dedicated, any such reference in the list, therefore, means only that the church existed by that date. Unfortunately, early documents concerning many of St Andrew’s parishes before the 13th century appear no longer to exist.

The drawing of the S doorway of the nave shows it as blocked, with a round, outer arch constructed of plain voussoirs. The imposts continue as stringcourses either side of the doorway and there are no capitals. The simplicity echoes both the N doorway and the N exterior stringcourse. The few surviving features of St Edwin’s Church would seem to suggest an earlier date than generally proposed. However, drawings of the W tower show pointed windows in the upper levels. This raises the question as to whether the W tower that collapsed was built at the same time as the nave.


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