A Brief History

Broadwoodside is an ancient place of settlement. In 1591 John Robeson of Broadwoodside was a juror at the trial of Agnes Sampson, the most infamous of the North Berwick witches, who was executed in Edinburgh for raising a storm against a ship in which King James VI was travelling. James became obsessed with the threat posed by witches and in 1597 wrote The Daemonologie which is thought to have inspired Shakespeare when he was writing Macbeth in about 1606. 'Broadwoodsyid' – but not Gifford – is shown on Blau's 1654 map of Scotland, effectively the first complete map of the country. Lime mortar analysis of the old farmhouse dates it to about 1680.

As part of the Yester estate, for centuries the farm was the property of the Tweeddale family. The 8th Marquess of Tweeddale (1787–1876), between fighting in the Napoleonic Wars and serving as governor of Madras, set about the improvement of his estate with characteristic energy. His achievements are recorded in the book The Yester Deep Plough Culture, published in Edinburgh in 1855, which records how 'he led the way in tile-draining, in deep ploughing, and in other agricultural experiments, which he conducted at a considerable expense'.

The farm accounts for Broadwoodside and Yester Mains, the home farm, for 1900 show a profit of £2682, or £280,000 in today's money. Unlike most East Lothian farms in this prosperous period for agriculture there was never the need to build a substantial farmhouse, as the farm was 'in hand' and not tenanted. The farm buildings at Broadwoodside remained modest and ancient. In 1901 the farm was bisected by the track of the Gifford & Garvald railway. The line never made it as far as Garvald. It closed to passengers in 1933 and the section from Gifford to Humbie closed to freight in 1948.

In 1967 the Yester estate was broken up, and the Bathgate family continued as tenants of the new owners. The farm was sold again in 1997 and Grade-B listed in 1998. The photograph below shows the derelict steading before renovation began. The architect for the restoration was Nicholas Groves-Raines. He also designed the two new elements that were added to enclose the courtyards: the ogee-roofed corner tower and the arched gatehouse.

In 2007, after the completion of the renovation, Broadwoodside was shortlisted for the Country Life / Savills Genius of Place Award.


Blae Map of Scotland showning Broadwoodside
Broadwoodside before the renovations