Colinton Village Area
Colinton originally Collington. The area first known in circa 1090 where Ethelred son of Malcolm III and Queen Margaret (Edinburgh Castle) built a church. He later became Abbot of Dunkeld. Colinton at one time had many mills producing snuff, textiles and paper. A railway was built circa 1850 which connected Edinburgh to the village a popular day trip destination.
St Cuthbert's Parish Church Colinton Village
Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church dates from 1626 when it was moved to this site. The present Church was built in 1908. The area was used by many travellers including Royalty as this was a ford in the river easiest to cross, this was the shortest route from Dunfermline Palace to Melrose Abbey. For more details see the information board inside the church.
To the left of the entrance to the church at about 3 m (10 foot) can be seen a sundial with the date 1630 and bears the coat of arms of the Foulis family.
Agnes (Heriot) Foulis
The oldest gravestone is with a date of 1593, Agnes Heriot the wife of James Foulis of Colinton. Agnes Heriot was Heiress of Lumphey near Pembroke, Wales was born in 1556, and Agnes married James Foulis circa 1564, at age 8 and died 1593 at age 37.
Iron Coffin “Mortsafe”
You will see enclosed vaults and metal fenced cages called mort safes as a deterrent to grave robbers taking the bodies from their resting place to use in the medical school for autopsy and scientific experiments. The famous grave robbers of the time were (Burke and Hare). Circa 1826 there was a large problem of grave robbers The Body Snatchers as they were called would dig up the newly buried and sell the bodies, taking the bodies from their resting place to use in the Edinburgh medical school for autopsy and scientific experiments. There were deterrents put in place to stop the body snatchers, enclosed vaults and metal fenced cages with locks and iron coffins known as a ‘mortsafe’ could be hired out. The mortsafe would be put on the grave where the coffin had been buried and as the mortsafe were so heavy (1000 kilos) they could not be moved. There is a mortsafe close to the entrance to the church thought to be the only one left in existence.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Dr Lewis Balfour was the minister of St Cuthbert’s Parish Church in Colinton in 1838. His daughter being the mother of
Robert Louis Stevenson, author and poet. As a boy Robert Louis Stevenson would played on a tree swing next to the manse and while sitting by the river would write poetry.
Plaque on Statue
Robert Louis Stevenson
“All through my boyhood and youth I was known and pointed out for the pattern of an idler; and yet I was always busy on my own private end, which was to learn to write. I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
“Memories and Portraits” Robert Louis Stevenson
Rev Lewis Balfour
Family Plot St Cuthbert's Graveyard
Dr Lewis Balfour was born 1777 in Pilrig House Leith, Scotland and died at age 82 in 1860. Father to Margaret Isabella who married Thomas Stevenson and mother to Robert Louis Stevenson. Lewis Balfour became a minister in Ayrshire in 1806 and became the parish minister of Colinton Village in 1824 where he lived until his death in 1860.
James Gillespie of Spylaw Tomb
St Cuthbert's Graveyard
Henry MacKenzie's Cottage
Henry Mackenzie was born in 1745 on Liberton Wynd which was a road from the head of the Canongate (Cranston Street) to the foot of Calton Hill (Leith Street). His education was like most wealthy Edinburgh families, High School then University of Edinburgh. He was a lawyer but his main passion was writing. His first publication after being rejected on several occasions was finally in 1771 he published, "Man of Feeling" anonymously, it was a great success. He had further successful publications and was part of the Enlightenment and a lodge member of Canongate Kilwinning. HE was one of the first to help Robert Burns when he was invited to Edinburgh by his friend Dr Thomas Blacklock. Henry died in 1831.
Redford Army Barracks
Redford Barracks opened circa 1915 at the head of Colinton Village. This was the largest military in Scotland to be built since 1769 when Fort George Inverness opened.
PHOEBE ANNA TRAQUAIR
RAILING AND GATE
These wrought-iron railings and gates
were commissioned by the well-known
Edinburgh printer Walter Bigger Blaikie
for his house in Colinton.
They were designed by Phoebe Anna Traquair,
with the technical help from the architect Frank Mears
and made in 1924 by Thomas Hadden,
the leading wrought- iron worker in Scotland.
Phoebe Anna Traquair lived in Colinton
And was one of the most versatile contributors to the
Late nineteenth century British Arts and Crafts movement.
The ornamental railings are a unique example
Of her work in wrought iron. They were restored by the
Colinton Community Conservation Trust in 2007,
Using Chris Topp & Co Ltd.,
Stone masons from Edinburgh.
Spylaw House (James Gillespie)
Spylaw House in Colinton was the home to James Gillespie a tobacco merchant with a shop in the North Foulis’ Close, High Street. James Gillespie an Edinburgh city merchant and founder of James Gillespie’s Hospital and School. The hospital opened in 1802 and could accommodate up to 66 Pensioners with preferential entry going to people with the name Gillespie. The school was originally sited at Gillespie Crescent near to the original hospital at Wright’s house. James Gillespie was born in Edinburgh on the 28 April 1726 and died at his home in Spylaw, Colinton a suburb of Edinburgh on 8 April 1797. His brothers, John and James were Tobacco and snuff merchants had their own factory at the back of their house at Spylaw. Due to the civil war in the Americas they were a main British supplier to the trade and controlled the prices at the time. James Gillespie is buried in Colinton Parish Church.
Water of Leith Walkway Colinton
Balerno, Currie, Juniper Green, Redhall, Craiglockhart, Slateford, Harperrig 10m, Leith 8m
Colinton Castle was the home of the Foulis family from 1531 was purchased by James de Foulis born 1490. James married a Catherine Brown. He held the office of Lord Clerk Register. He was also a Member of Parliament and in 1526 became a Judge and was a Lord of Session in 1532. He died in 1549. Alexander Foulis of Colinton born circa 1600 – died 1665 was made a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1634. His son James Foulis, 2nd Baronet of Colinton was knighted by Charles I on 14 November 1641, and represented Edinburgh in parliament, was Lord Justice Clerk and known as Lord Colinton, he died in 1688. Colinton Castle was abandoned by its new owner Sir William Forbes who purchased the estate from the Foulises in 1800, who then built Colinton House, however he died before finishing. His son completed the house and had a staircase included in his alterations in 1840 that were carried out by William Playfair.
Colinton House was the home to James Abercrombie, 1st Baron Dunfermline (1776–1858), who was Speaker of the House of Commons and died at Colinton in 1858. The house was occupied until 1925 and in 1929 it became part of Merchiston Castle School.
Covenanters' 1666 Rullion Green
The memorial is to remember the covenanters' who died at the Battle of Rullion Green. It was at Colinton where the covenanters' turned for home, on their way the Royalist Army lead by Sir Thomas Dalziel caught up with them, just outside Penicuik at Rullion Green and after a short and bloody battle and many deaths, the Government troops took the Covenanters that survived and imprisoned them in Greyfriars Covenanters prison where they died, were executed or deported. A few were lucky and escaped. The column was erected by Mr MacFie and the inscription around top of column; "Covenanters 1666" "Romans" "Cromwell 1650" "Charles 1745".
Robert Louis Stevenson
The start of a trail of history around Colinton Village
A walk with
Robert Louis Stevenson
As a boy RLS would have frequently passed this place when staying with his grandfather at the nearby Colinton Manse.
The Manse: “ It was a place in that time like no other: the garden cut into provinces by a great hedge of beech, and overlooked by the church and the terrace of the churchyard, where the tombstones were thick, and after nightfall “spunkies” might be seen to dance, at least by children;” “Memories and Portraits” Robert Louis Stevenson.
Visit the swing café in the churchyard to see the old yew tree that held the swing believed to have inspired RLS to write his poem The Swing.
A walk with
Robert Louis Stevenson
Looking – glass River
Smooth it slides upon its travel,
Here a wimple, there a gleam –
O the clean gravel!
O the smooth stream!
Sailing blossoms, silverfishes,
Paven pools as clear as air –
How a child wishes
To live down there!
We can see our coloured faces
Floating on the shaken pool
Down in cool places,
Dim and very cool;
Till a wind or water wrinkle,
Dipping marten, plumbing trout,
Spreads in a twinkle
And blots all out.
See the rings purse each other;
All below grows black as night,
Just as if mother
Had blown out the light!
Patience, children, just a minute –
See the spreading circles die;
The stream and all in it
Will clear by and by.
A Child’s Garden of Verses
Lookout for wildlife as you stroll along the riverside paths of the Water of Leith
WILLIAM KINNIMOND BURTON ENGINEER, PHOTOGRAPHER 1856 - 1899
William Kinnimond Burton's family home was Craig House, part of the old
Craighouse campus of Napier University. In 1877 he was invited by the Meiji Government of Japan to become the first Professor of Sanitary Engineering and lecturer in Rivers, Docks and Harbours at the Imperial University of Tokyo. He designed new water and drainage systems for Tokyo, (population of one and a half million), and many other towns and cities in
Japan and Taiwan. He also designed Japan’s first skyscraper, ‘Ryounkaku’, in Tokyo. William Kinnimond Burton became an icon of modern Japan. He died on 5 August, 1899 at the age of 43. An impressive tombstone was built in the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo. To this day, people still gather for an annual ceremony to lay flowers on his grave and sing Scottish folk songs.
An accomplished photographer he had a book ABC of Modern Photography published in 1882. Burton helped form the Photographic Society of Japan in 1890.