Author: Craig Neil
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Last updated on May 13th, 2023.5 minutes to read.
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.
|Opening Hours:||1 April to 30 September: daily, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Last entry 5 pm
|Admission Price:||Member/Explorer Pass holder: Free
Child aged 5-15: £3.60
Child under 5: Free
|Parking:||Free on-site car park|
|Contact:||01875 812 942|
|Facilities:||Shop, toilets, picnic area, water refill, partial disabled access|
1: The grounds are lovely and have good views across the Firth of Forth. Admittedly it won’t take you long to visit the collegiate building, but it’s a nice place to explore.
2: Seton Collegiate is close to Edinburgh, with a drive taking just 30 minutes from the city centre.
3: This historic building is close to lots of other East Lothian attractions including Glenkinchie whisky distillery and Athelstaneford National Flag Centre.
1: Combine a visit to Seton Collegiate Church with a walk along the beach at Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve which is around a 10-minute drive away.
2: You can get into historic attractions like this for free with a membership of Historic Environment Scotland.
3: The nearest village is Prestonpans which has a few attractions including the Leven Links nature reserve, the Battle of Prestonpans viewpoint, and Prestongrange Museum.
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)
Alternatively, you can simply spend a while there before heading into Edinburgh from the nearby Prestonpans rail station.
You might also like the free outdoor mining museum Prestongrange Museum and the Levenhall Links nature reserve that are in Prestonpans.
But whatever you decide to do I think you’ll enjoy your visit to this unique historic attraction.
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 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 gives 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 has had a good go at making a visit to one of their historic sites interesting for children and they’ve thoughtfully included a fun fact-finding quiz and a scavenger hunt challenge to keep them occupied.
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.
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 nearby
Gosford House and Grounds. Longniddry EH32 0PY. 8-minute drive.
A 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 400 years when the site was a glass works, pottery and colliery.
Entry is free. An on-site shop is open during the 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.
A 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.
Frequently asked questions
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.