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Sitting in immaculately manicured gardens, Seton Collegiate Church is a 4-star historic tourist attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland. The church is located near Prestonpans in East Lothian and can be accessed from the A198, 2 miles (3.22 km) west of Longniddry.
Discover more places to visit with the Ultimate Tourist Map of Scotland
About Seton Collegiate Church
Seton Collegiate Church, known locally as Seton Chapel, is a collegiate church south of Port Seton in East Lothian. The church is situated next to the magnificent Seton House – which can be glimpsed through the trees at one end of the site – and the grounds are a total oasis of peace and quiet.
Although this historic attraction is quite small (it’ll take less than an hour to explore entirely) it’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area as it offers a unique glimpse into the past that for once isn’t centred around a Scottish castle.
The origins of the church date back to 1242 when the original parish church was consecrated by the Bishop of St. Andrews, and over the years it was expanded and eventually converted into the collegiate church that we see today.
It would have been quite elaborately decorated in its heyday although it’s now just a shell of the original building, but it’s no less interesting for it.
The church is close to the lovely East Lothian coastline and there are lots of other attractions in the area so it can be easily combined with a visit to the beach (check out my guide to Yellowcraig) or a castle (have a look at Dirleton Castle), or you can simply spend a bit of time here before heading into Edinburgh from the nearby Prestonpans rail station.
Alternatively, you might like to take a look at the free outdoor mining musuem Prestongrange Museum and the Levenhall Links nature reserve directly across the road.
But whatever you decide to do I think you’ll enjoy your visit to this unique historic attraction.
Visiting Seton Collegiate Church
Sitting in immaculately manicured gardens, Seton Collegiate Church is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and is a 4-Star tourist attraction.
The stonework of Seton Collegiate Church is in a remarkably good condition for a building of its age and inside it features several points of interest, including a collection of impressive stained-glass windows set in equally grand gothic-style archways along with a number of grave slabs marked by stone effigies.
The ruins to the rear of the church grounds are the location of the remains of buildings that were inhabited by monks at one time, but today only the foundations and some low-lying walls can be seen. The remainder of the gardens are home to collections of flowerbeds and the entire gardens are surrounded by fields and woodland.
It really is a very peaceful place to visit.
Although the church itself is pretty much bare inside there are some examples of stonework that have been saved from hundreds of years of neglect and there are plenty of information panels dotted about that give a rundown of the history of the church, courtesy of HES.
The stonework inside the chapel is worth taking a look at as it’s in exceptionally good condition – especially the priest’s seat and the basin where sacred vessels used to be rinsed.
Another section of the church that’s well preserved is the priest’s domestic quarters and it’s quite an eye-opener to see how cramped it would have been for six men to have spent the majority of their lives in such a tiny place.
As usual Historic Environment Scotland have had a good go at making a visit to one of their historic sites interesting to children and they’ve thoughtfully made a fun fact-finding quiz and a scavenger hunt challenge to keep them occupied, and I’d say that’s more than enough to keep them busy while you explore the site in peace and quiet.
There’s a small visitor centre tucked away near the entrance which has a few souvenirs to buy and there are toilets on the site as well, but please note there are no disabled toilets.
I’d say you should certainly find the time to visit Seton Collegiate Church if you’re looking for something to do and are already in this part of East Lothian, but I probably wouldn’t specifically travel there if I was on the other side of the country.
That being said, it’s a nice wee place to visit and it’s an excellent attraction to learn about Scotland’s religious history.
Discover more places to visit in East Lothian with: The Best Places to Visit in East Lothian – Ultimate Visitor Guide.
- Seton Collegiate is one of those hidden gems that most tourists don’t know about. That means it’s very quiet. It’s also close enough to Edinburgh that you could take a drive there before heading down to the beach at Gullane or Yellowcraig if you want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- The grounds are lovely with great views across the Firth of Forth. Admittedly it won’t take you long to visit the collegiate building but it’s a nice wee place to explore for a half hour or so.
- It’s close to lots of other East Lothian attractions like Glenkinchie whisky distillery and the Athelstaneford National Flag Centre.
- Combine a visit to Seton Collegiate Church with a walk along the beach at Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve which is around 10-minutes drive away.
- You can get into historic attractions like this for free with a membership of Historic Environment Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland.
- The nearest village is Prestonpans which has a couple of attractions like the Leven Links nature reserve, the Battle of Prestonpans viewpoint and Prestongrange Museum.
Directions to Seton Collegiate Church
National Grid reference: NT 418 751
Click map for directions
Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Dunbar & North Berwick – 351 Explorer.
Edinburgh – 66 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer Maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do near Seton Collegiate Church
- Gosford House and Grounds. Longniddry EH32 0PY. 8-minute drive. Country house that is open for private events and public open days. The grounds are open year-round and offer picturesque walks through managed woodland.
- Prestongrange Museum. Prestonpans EH32 9RX. 8-minute drive. An open air museum that features a collection of original machinery and industrial buildings from across the 400 years that the site was a focus of glass works, pottery and colliery. Entry is free. An on-site shop is open during summer months only.
- Myreton Motor Museum. Aberlady, Longniddry EH32 0PZ. 11-minute drive. A small privately-run and highly-rated motor museum that celebrates automobilia with a collection of cars, bikes, motorcycles and trucks.
- Carberry Tower Mansion House. Carberry Tower Estate, Musselburgh EH21 8PY. 9-minute drive. Grand 18th-century country house set in 35 acres of countryside. The house is open both as a hotel and as a restaurant. The grounds are free to visit and paths run to Queen Mary’s Mount where Mary Queen of Scots is said to have rested after the Battle of Pinkie in 1547.
- Levenhall Links and Musselburgh Lagoons Nature Reserve. 2 Hope Pl, Musselburgh EH21 7QE. 8-minute walk. Nature reserve and popular bird-watching site that has been created from reclaimed coal excavations from nearby quarries.
Accommodation near Seton Collegiate Church
- The Lodge at Craigielaw. 3.6 miles.
- Duck’s Inn. 4.1 miles.
- Ravelston House. 5.3 miles.
- Rockville Hotel. 6.1 miles.
- The Watchman Hotel. 6.2 miles.
FAQ’s about Seton Collegiate Church
How do I get to Seton Collegiate Church?
Seton Collegiate Church is situated between Port Seton and Longniddry in East Lothian. Access is via the A198.
Address: Longniddry, East Lothian, EH32 0PG
Directions map: Google Maps
What is a collegiate church in Scotland?
A collegiate church is a church that was administered by a college of canons. Between 1250 and 1567 there were 42 collegiate churches in Scotland, most of which were privately funded by wealthy families.
What are Seton Collegiate Church opening times?
Visit the HES opening times page for the current opening times.
What visitor facilities are there at Seton Collegiate Church?
Seton Collegiate Church has a car park, a small shop/ticket office, and a picnic area. Visit the facilities page for updated information on available facilities.
More places to visit in The Lothians
- Swanston & the Pentland Hills Visitor GuideThe Pentland Hills are located south of Edinburgh where they span Midlothian and West Lothian in a regional park that’s over 38 square miles in size. There are 9 peaks over 1,500 feet in the Pentlands and more than 600,000 people visit them each year. There are a number of entry points to the park but one of the best is at Swanston, which is just a 20-minute drive from Edinburgh city centre.
- Woodhall Dean Nature Reserve Visitor GuideWoodhall Dean Nature Reserve in East Lothian is situated to the north-east of the Lammermuir Hills. The reserve comprises mixed woodland which surrounds a deep gorge that opens up onto rolling fields. In spring, Woodhall Dean is awash with bluebells and primroses, while buzzards, sparrowhawks, and tawny owls can be seen throughout the year.
- Lammermuir Hills Visitor GuideThe Lammermuirs are a range of hills in the south of Scotland that border the county of East Lothian and the Scottish Borders. Visitors can explore the ancient hill forts at White Castle and Addinston, go for woodland walks at Pressmennan Wood and Yester Estate, and climb the highest point of the hill range at Meikle Says Law (1,755 feet/535 metres).
- Seacliff Beach Visitor GuideSeacliff Beach is situated 5 miles south of North Berwick in East Lothian. This remote beach is overlooked by the dramatic ruins of Tantallon Castle and is best known for its unusual sandstone harbour which is said to be the smallest in the UK.