Jan 272023

92-84 High St, Prestonpans, EH32 9JF

File:Prestonpans - Burns Memorial - geograph.org.uk - 700239.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons
Source: James Denham

In the centre of Prestonpans are two gardens – the Burns Memorial Garden on the shore and the Corronation Garden in front of Prestonpans Parish Church. These unique resting spaces provide a fascinating insight in local history, as well as a beautiful backdrop to a weary traveller.

The Burns Memorial Garden contains a memorial to the Scottish national poet erected at the bicentenary of his death, as well as a Burns Memorial Shelter. The latter includes a mural created by the artist Kate Hunter and illustrating Burns’ poem Tam O’Shanter. Perstonpans is known for its murals – 35 of them are part of the Mural Trail designed by the Prestoungrange Arts Festival Society.

Alongside the murals, Prestonpans also has numerous memorial gardens and monuments to its fascinating history. Hence, in the Burns Memorial Garden, we also find a monument to local industries, created in 1968 by Leslie Frank Chorley. Traditionally, the town’s two most well-known industries were the production of salt using salt panning (i.e. evaporating salt water in large pans, which also gave rise to the town’s name) and coal mining. Coal was discovered in Prestonpans by the Newbattle Abbey monks in 1210, which was likely the first instance of coal mining in Britain.

File:Prestonpans, East Lothian - Thomas Alexander C.B. - geograph.org.uk - 704716.jpg
Source: James Denham

On the opposite side of the High Street is the coronation garden with the monument to military surgeon Thomas Alexander. Alexander served in all major campaigns of the 19th century, rising all the way to the position of Director General of the Medical Department of the British Army. During the Crimean War, he befriended the acclaimed nurse Florence Nightingale, and much like her, he went on to reform some of the critical practices and standards of care in hospital environments. Behind the Alexander monument is the ruin of the 14th-century Preston Tower, which has seen multiple sieges and was a prominent base for military engagement. Ruined in 1663 after an accidental fire, it missed the legendary Battle of Prestonpans, where Highlanders supporting the return of Prince Charles defeated the Government forces during the early stages of the Jacobite rebellion. 

Prestonpans http://bikelove-scotland.blogspot.com/2011/08/prestonpans-port-seton-cockenzie-battle.html?m=1
Robert Burns Memorial Shelter https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/robert-burns-memorial-shelter
Prestoungrange Arts Festival (Murals Trail) http://www.prestoungrange.org/arts-festival/html/murals/muralstrail.html

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