The ruins of The Church of St Baldred in the grounds date back to the 7th Century, and it is known that there was a grand manor on the lands by 1094, as it was mentioned in a charter of Duncan II of Scotland to the monks of St Cuthberts.
The vast Tyninghame Estate was acquired in 1628 by the 1st Earl of Haddington. Subsequent earls extended the main building, but the present house dates from 1829 when it was remodelled in the Scots Baronial style for the 8th Earl by celebrated architect William Burn.
The property was sold in 1987, and divided into 17 dwellings by restoration expert Kit Martin CBE. It is the East Wing that is now for sale after undergoing a substantial renovation under the ownership of one family in the intervening years.
Tom Johnston, brother-in-law to the current owners, says: “It was bought by my parents-in-law when it was converted, and then in 2010 it was passed to their son and his wife, Simon and Hazel Merrils.
“They are based in the US, but until recently used the East Wing as a European base and very generously allowed the wider family to use it too – so I know it well.”
The wing covers five floors with a private entrance from the east courtyard. The recent upgrading added ensuite bathrooms and created a large dining-kitchen and sitting area on the ground floor as well as practical considerations – modernising the heating system and fitting under-floor heating.
The first floor retains the house’s original grand rooms. A spiral stair in the turret takes you to a gallery, with a mural by artist William McClaren, and leads into the magnificent drawing room. Here there are full-height windows and period features, including a stunning marble mantelpiece. The views are over the gardens and beyond to the Tyne Estuary.
Tom says: “It has been a great family home, we were down fairly often as we are based in Edinburgh and other UK members of the family used it – nephews and nieces and their children – and when Hazel and Simon come over they bring extended family too, so it was quite regular to have four generations under the roof.
“The house sleeps ten comfortably and the communal spaces are large, but there is also plenty of space to find a quiet place too.”
Tom says that the grounds have been an utter delight but never a chore. “The East Wing has a private south-facing terrace and walkway and this part of Scotland seems to have its own microclimate, with better weather than in Edinburgh. There have been many happy long lunches at the table outside.”
Some 38 acres of communal gardens include manicured lawns and flowerbeds, mature woodland and specimen trees, including an oak tree planted by Edward VII in 1902. A tennis garden, a mile-long avenue to the coast and a formal walled garden are among the treasures within the grounds.
But as Tom explains, there are further delights beyond. “We have direct access to tracks through farmland, down to the beach, to Dunbar – all off-road – and you can cycle to North Berwick or Haddington on very minor roads. Lots of the neighbours here have dogs, as it is so perfect for walking.”
He will miss spending time here, saying: “Although it is a very impressive house, it is also practical for a family and for entertaining.
“But it is more than just the house, it is the place itself – you can go for a walk at night, the skies are so clear and you can hear the waves crashing on the beach.
“It has a magical quality, and it was always the perfect place to relax and get away from the stresses of everyday life.”
East Wing, Tyninghame House, East Lothian, is priced at offers over £1.25m.
For more information, contact Savills on 0131-247 3756.