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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Whittingehame Walk

20 August 2017
SCoJeC's Whittingehame Walk

To mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, SCoJeC is delighted to have been able to arrange a visit to the historic family home of Lord Arthur James Balfour, the author of the Declaration which promised British support for the creation of a Jewish "national home" in what became Israel.

Whittingehame House, near Haddington in East Lothian, also has another significance for the Jewish Community – it was used as a farm school between 1939 and 1941 for child refugees from the Holocaust who escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport. We are very grateful to the current owner, Lord Balfour's great-nephew Michael Brander, for granting us access to the estate, and for personally showing the group parts of the estate that are not normally open to the public.

SCoJeC's Whittingehame Walk

On a glorious summer day, twenty-one people aged from 5 to 69 participated in the two-hour walk around the estate and the surrounding area. As the area is inaccessible by public transport, SCoJeC provided a minibus from Glasgow and Edinburgh to near Traprain Law, where the intrepid walkers were met by East Lothian Forest Ranger Richard English, who told many fascinating stories about the local flora and fauna and the archaeological and mythical history of the landscape, including the story of the birth of St Mungo, whose mother was reputed to have been thrown off Traprain Law by her father, King Lot. He explained that the hill had been an ancient fortification in Roman times, and described the Traprain Hoard, 53 pounds of Roman-era silver that was discovered in 1919.

SCoJeC's Whittingehame Walk

The group also had the opportunity to observe the wheat harvest as they walked back down the hill and across freshly cut fields to Whittingehame Farm, where they enjoyed SCoJeC's now-traditional tasty picnic lunch of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels. After lunch, Michael Brander showed the group around part of Whittingehame Estate, the birthplace and former home of the first Earl, who was Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905. The group visited the Balfour family graves, and walked through an arboretum of rare trees and a tunnel of tree roots to the foot of the 'Whittingehame Yew', one of Scotland's hundred Heritage Trees.

SCoJeC's Whittingehame Walk

One participant, Steven Anson, commented that "This was a well organised event – even the weather was specially organised by SCoJeC for the day! and the group, from diverse backgrounds and ages, bonded well. The wooden tree root tunnel to the 1,000 year old yew tree was like something out of a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings story – magical! We would all thank to Joanne and other 'yellow vested helpers' for making it all possible and run smoothly."

Another of the walkers wrote: "Please let me say thank you to everyone who provided a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting visit to Whittinghame Estate today. All in all, a pretty fabulous day, which was clearly very well organised and unique in a number of different ways."

Click on each photo to see a larger image, and click here for lots more photos!

The walk was generously supported by the Netherlee and Clarkston Charitable Trust.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438