Ormiston Parish Church – Church of Scotland
The Kirk replaced another church close by at Ormiston House and was built in 1696 with a small but now extended burial yard. Mort safes were used to secure the dead and were reckoned to be of good construction. It is highly likely that George Wishart and John Knox preached in the church.
It was said to be cold, damp and very uncomfortable in winter. At first, it was partially seated with many families providing their own stools and chairs. About 1825 it was furnished with good substantial pews with the whole church being furnished with seats by 1844 for 300 people. All seats were free.
Its churchyard may be the smallest in the country measuring 46 by 24 yards, including the church, the collection house.
The Kirk was inconvenient to the minister and most of the congregation as they lived one and a half miles away in the village.
It was not until 1937 that a church was built in the village uniting the Free Kirk with the Church of Scotland. The Free Kirk broke away in 1843. With the new church built in the village the old one fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1960′s.
The Church is located on the North side of the Main Street and shares the Minister of the neighbouring Parish of Pencaitland. The previous church stood at the point where the roads between Ormiston and Dalkeith was intercepted by the road to Peaston about a mile and a half south-west of the village and the manse which was in the village.
The dead are still buried in the extension to the Byres Churchyard, directly opposite the old churchyard.
The memorial of the sister of Scotland’s infamous Bard is erected in the old Churchyard in memory of Isabella Burns, her children and others in the family. Isabella Burns was born 27th June 1771 and died 4th December 1858 at Bridgehouse near Ayr and is interred in Alloway Kirk yard, her husband John Begg, was accidentally killed at Blackwood, Lanarkshire.
Another headstone marks the death of one of the gardener’s of the Honourable, Earl of Hopetoun, Ormiston Hall. The gardener, William Gardner, died in 1803 at a ripe old age of 84 years, his wife died the year before and is also scribed on the headstone. It is likely as a memorial to the service of Mr. Gardner that the Earl had the memorial erected and scribed as a final mark of respect. If this is the case it shows that not all of the aristocracy ignore the importance of their staff.