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High Street

Lower Southside

Royal Mile 

All About Edinburgh

High Street History

High Street was the most populated part of Edinburgh, with tenement buildings up to 11 stories high. On November 15th 1824 a tenement of 11 stories in the upper High Street or High Street West caught alight and was the beginning of the worst fire in the history of Edinburgh. Starting at around 10 pm that evening the fire spread from the tenement in Assembly Close to buildings in Old Fishmarket close. Down to the Tron Kirk which at the time was central Edinburgh. It also spread south along the Cowgate. The fire was finally extinguished the next morning 12 hours from when it had started. That was not the end, as another fire started at 10 pm that evening which destroyed what was left on the south side of the High Street. All but St Giles Cathedral and the Parliament buildings were saved. Over four hundred families were left homeless.

High Street East

(lower Southside)

Royal Mile Edinburgh

The High Street in the Royal Mile can be found between the Royal Mile Lawnmarket and the Royal Mile Canongate. The Lower High Street or High Street East is from the cross roads at the North and South Bridges to the crossroads at Jeffery Street and St Mary’s Street where the city wall once stood. In this section you will find; Old St Paul's Church, Paisley Close, Trinity Apse Church, Museum of Childhood, John Knox House, Nether Bow, Carrubber’s Mission, New Palace Picture House, World’s End, Mowbray House, Nether Bow Wellhead, Tweeddale Court and The Scottish Story Telling Centre, Trunk's Close.      

Niddry Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Niddry Street originally called Niddry Wynd (Nudreis Wynd) is one of the oldest thoroughfares in old Edinburgh. The original Wynd would have been angled further west after re-positioning when the South Bridge was built. The Wynd extended across Cowgate to what is now South Niddry Street where the underground caverns have been found which were linked with the area that was previous to the south bridge being built. In 1750 when Niddry Wynd was widened it became Niddry Street. There were a number of important buildings which included St Cecilia’s Hall built in 1762 as a concert Hall and still exist to this day at the foot of Niddry Street as a Music Museum. Niddry Wynd was said to be named after a magistrate of Edinburgh in 1437 a Robert Niddry a member of the Niddry family of Wauchop.

 
Niddry Street High Street Edinburgh

St Cecilia’s Music Museum

Niddry Street Edinburgh

St Cecilia’s Hall was built for the Musical Society of Edinburgh in 1762 by Robert Mylne (Milne) a Scottish architect and Stone mason from a famous Edinburgh family of builders and stonemasons. The Musical Society of Edinburgh previously occupied

St Mary’s Chapel from 1728 – 1762 when they moved to St Cecilia’s Hall which was purpose built for them by Robert Milne in 1762. St Cecilia’s Hall had an auditorium that held 500 seated guests and concerts were held daily starting in the early evening and were always very well attended. Niddry Wynd was widened circa 1750 and was renamed as a Niddry Street. St Cecilia’s Hall is now part of the University of Edinburgh and has undergone a lengthy renovation. St Cecilia’s Hall is now a musical instrument museum and concert Hall which makes it one of the oldest remaining concert halls in Britain and oldest in Scotland still in use.

 
St Cecelia's Museum Sign
St Cecelia's Hall Museum Niddry Street E

Dickson’s Close

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Dickson’s Close in the High Street on the Royal Mile Edinburgh was demolished when Niddry street was widened. All that remains is the Street sign above the door of the Radisson Blu Hotel. One of the Close’s occupants was a David Allan who was dubbed the “Scottish Hogarth” his illustrations and etchings were of great quality. He died in Edinburgh and is gravestone can be seen in the Old Calton Graveyard.

Dickson's Close Sign High Street Royal M

Cant’s Close

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Cants Close was housing for the members of the Anglican Church. Cants Close Melrose Close Dickson’s Close and Niddry Wynd all were adjoining and were part of a very upmarket area for the nobility. The Cant family lived in the close for circa 100 years. Adam Cant 1403, Alexander Cant 1514 a wealthy family with land in many pars of Edinburgh. The Building was renovated in 1989 over a period of 15 months.

Melrose Close

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Melrose Close was were the Abbot of Melrose (Andrew Durie) had his residence circa 1530 and the close was named after him. It was also known as Rosehaugh Close after Sir George McKenzie of Rosehaugh King’s Advocate. Sir George McKenzie (George Bloody Mackenzie) is still known today due to his tomb in Greyfriars which is said to be haunted.

Melrose Close High Street Royal Mile Edi

Blackfriar’s Street (Wynd)

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Blackfriars Street originally known as the Preaching Friar’s Vennel and Blackfriars Wynd. The name given due to the Street leading to the Black Friary of the Dominican Monks founded by Alexander II in 1230. The Wynd widened and became a Street and it was where Regent Morton had a mansion and many wealth Gentlemen and Ladies lived. Other significant history about Black Friars Wynd “Cleanse the Causeway” when the Hamilton’s and Douglas’s battled and the Earl of Bothwell and Sir William Stewart who Bothwell killed in Black friars Wynd. The Catholic Chapel which moved from Black friars Wynd in 1813 is now St Mary’s Cathedral at Broughton Street. Blackfriars Wynd was the centre of Edinburgh Nobility with Lords, Earls, Dukes, Bishops, Lady’s and Royals all at one time residing in the Wynd. There was a Palace and the first printing press in Scotland which printed the first book in 1508. Blackfriars Wynd to the east was demolished (circa 1840) due to the improvement Act and rebuilt, where the west side was left and the buildings between Cants Close and Dickson’s were mostly demolished and new builds were erected.  The United Industrial School opened in 1847 to give all children both boys and girls, protestant and catholic an instruction in Craft work tailoring, carpentry, Leather work etc. and Knitting and housework.

Blakfriar's Street Edinburgh

Lodge of Journeymen

Blackfriar's Street

The Lodge of Journeymen Masons has worked as a legal lodge since 1715 but the Grand Lodge of Scotland states the true date of formation was 1707. The Lodge of Journeymen Masons is unique due to the fact it may be the only lodge in the world which is allowed to charge fees and confer degrees but does not have the required charter from a Grand Lodge. The Journeymen lodge moved to 63 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB on the 8th August 1871. Above the door can be seen a stone tablet with insignia and inscriptions. Around lower edge of coat of arms shield the inscriptions reads: IN THE LORD IS ALL OUR TRUST

On the panel below coat of arms

LODGE JOURNEYMEN MASONS NO.8 REBUILT 1870 THOMAS FIELD. R.W.M. AND CONVENER OF THE TRADES

Regent Morton’s Mansion

Blackfriar's Street

Regent Morton’s Mansion house in Blackfriars Wynd (now Street) was the town house of Regent Morton, James Douglas 4th Earl of Morton who was born circa 1525. James Douglas was the last regent of Scotland. He was executed on the 2nd of June 1581. His execution took place at the foot of the Canongate outside the Palace of Holyrood House on the “maiden”. The guillotine brought from England by himself as he had been impressed when watching how it was so efficient. James Douglas took an active part the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots.in 1567. He was executed for being part of the killing of Lord Darnley Mary Queen of Scots Husband.

Regent Morton's Mansion Blackfriars  Str
Doorway to Regent Morton's House Blackfr

First Printing Press

Blackfriar’s Street (Wynd)

This plaque donates the place where the first printing of a book in Scotland was. The printers Walter Chepman and Andrew Myllar printed the first book in 1508 after being granted a licence by King (James IV) a year earlier. The printers stood in the Cowgate at the foot of Blackfriars Street near to Cardinal Beaton’s House.

first printed book in Scotland Blackfria

Toddrick’s Wynd

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Toddrick’s (Todrig’s) Wynd once belonged to Archibald Todrig a Bailie of Edinburgh who was attacked in his home in the Wynd in 1500 by two men with swords. They were caught and taken to the Tolbooth and their hands were chopped off as a punishment. Toddrick’s Wynd was also where Bothwell and his cohorts ascended to Blackfriars Monastery on 9th Feb 1567 to blow up the provost’s house in Kirk O Fields. Thomas Aitchison lived here (the master of the mint). A grand Banquet was held in 1590 for the Ambassador and nobles of Denmark.

Toddrick's Wynd High Street Royal Mile Edinburgh

Museum of Childhood

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood. The world’s first museum to be dedicated solely to the history of childhood was opened in 1955. The museum of Childhood contains five galleries with toys and games, both contemporary and antique, from around the world. Many toys that everyone of an age will remember; Action Man, Sindy, Corgi, Triang, Meccano.

 
Museum of Childhood High Street Royal Mi

South Gray’s Close

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

South Gray’s Close or Mint Close as this is where the Scottish mint was built in 1574 after it being in the Castle and firstly in Holyrood House Palace. It later moved to Chessel’s Court where Deacon Brodie robbed it, but was caught and hung. The Museum of Childhood is located next to the close.

South Gray's Close High Street Royal Mil

Hyndford’s Close

Royal Mile High Street

Edinburgh

Hyndford’s Close the entrance to the town residence of the Earls of Selkirk’s. The first Earl of Selkirk William Alexander who colonised Nova Scotia in 1630.  Later to be occupied by Dr Daniel Rutherford a chemist and Botanist who discovered Nitrogen Gas in 1772. Rutherford was Sir Walter Scott’s uncle his sister being Walter’s mother. The close was named after the Carmichael’s of Hyndford.

Hyndford's Close High Street Royal Mile

The New Palace

Picture House

The New Palace Picture House opened in 1929; and finally closed in September 1956. It became a night club and music venue called McGoos and a host of the names of the 60’s played there; The Who, The Kinks, Spencer Davies Group, Troggs, Wayne Fontana, The Small Faces, Cream and many more.

Palace Cinema High Street  Edinburgh

Fountain Close Royal Mile High Street Edinburgh

Fountain Close residents were Adam Fullerton and Sir James Mackenzie whose house was purchased by the Royal College of Physicians for a new Library in 1704 and sold again in 1720 for a new Church to be built in 1771. Also in Fountain Close is The Saltire Society which was founded in 1936 and its purpose is to improve the quality of life in Scotland and make people around the world see the values Scotland has to offer everyone in every walk of life. The Saltire Society has no political affiliation and anyone is welcome to become a member. FÀILTE is Gaelic for welcome.

Fountain Court High Street Royal Mile Ed

Tweeddale Court & Close

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Tweeddale Court built in 1576 by the Earl of Lothian for his daughter Lady Yester and she passed it on to the 9th Earl of Yester her grandson the second Earl of Tweeddale who became the Marquis of Tweeddale Lord High Commissioner of Scotland which was bestowed upon him by William III. The Last Tweeddale to live here died in 1762 and the mansion house became the British Linen company. The British Linen Company occupied Tweeddale Court in 1791 till 1807. A grizzly murder also took place in Tweeddale Court in 1806, when William Begbie a porter of the British Linen Company was stabbed through the heart and robbed of thousands of bank notes he was carrying from a branch at the top of Leith. A major amount of notes were later recovered but the murderer was never caught. It is suspected that the murderer was later caught for another bank robbery of a similar description in Glasgow, but it was never proven. The thief was tried for the Glasgow robbery and found guilty, imprisoned and later died in Old Calton Jail in Regent Road. When the British Linen Company moved to St Andrew Square, Oliver and Boyd printers and publishers moved into the mansion house.

Tweeddale Court High Street Royal Mile E
royal mile high street tweeddale court e
clam shell Tweeddale Court Edinburgh

World’s End Close

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh

World’s End Close previously Sir John Stanfield’s Close, Sir John Stanfield was supposedly murdered by his son who was then sentenced to hang at the market cross in Feb 1688 but due to the rope slipping he was finally chopped up and his head was displayed in Haddington his body in Leith and his tongue was cut out and hand chopped of for his crimes against his father. Known as World’s End Close as this was the last building inside the city wall which many people had never been past.

World's End Bar and Close. High Street E
World's End Close, High Street Edinburgh

St Mary Street

Edinburgh

St Mary’s Wynd was widened and became a street. The First House to be built under the Improvement Act of 1867 was No 2 St Mary Street and a wall tablet was placed above the door and unveiled by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh the right honourable William Chambers of Glenormiston a publisher, politician and brother of Robert Chambers Author and publisher both were born in Peebles in the Scottish Borders are were influential in Edinburgh’s History. St Mary’s Wynd was built on an old Roman road and was named after the Cistercian nuns of St Mary and a chapel and hospital dedicated to St Mary both built on the west side of the Wynd. The Mary’s Wynd was first mentioned circa 1360 when men to Edinburgh up Mary’s Wynd after returning from battle. A Wynd changed its name to street when widened to allow carts to use it.

Boyd’s Entry 

St Mary's Street 

Boyd’s Entry is where the first passenger coaches arrived from London. This is where the stables and buildings to house the coaches stood at the foot of Gullan’s Close next to the White Horse Inn (previously Boyd’s Inn), at the head of the Canongate. The Flodden wall once stood on the west side of the Street prior to the present housing. There was a gate at both ends of the Wynd, The Cowgate and the Nether Bow Gate which were the only way into Edinburgh, from the East. 

Boyd's Entry St Mary's Street Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Improvement Act of 1867    

The first building erected under the improvement act of 1867 was No.2 St Mary Street the corner tenement on the east side of the street marked with a stone tablet above the door. The building officially opened by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh at that time, The Right Honourable William Chambers of Clermiston.

St Mary's Street Improvement Act of 1867
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© 2020 by All About Edinburgh. 

started 16 / 03 /2017

About East Lothian Attractions
World's End Close, High Street Edinburgh