High Street

Upper Northside

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 on the upper or High Street West, southside 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 in the east. 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 West

(Upper) Northside

Royal Mile Edinburgh

High Street North Side West.

Byre’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Byres Close is where Adam Bothwell the Bishop of Orkney’s Mansion stood. Last to reside in the Close was said to be one of the wealthiest people in Scotland Sir William Dick of Braid, Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1638 and relation to the Baronets of Prestonfield.

Byre's Close High Street Royal Mile Edin

Advocate’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Advocate’s Close was named after Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees (Lord  Advocate of Scotland 1692 – 1713).  The Stewart family owned and lived in the Close from 1648 – 1769. Advocates Close has had many names as the name would change by the owner at the time. Oliver Cromwell visited here on two occasions. other occupants of the Close were David Dalrymple, Lord Westhall, Andrew Crosbie and the artist John Scougal to William III.  Also the Mansion of Bishop Bothwell circa 1590. There are two doorway with inscribed lintels No 2  

   

Old Scottish tradition the initials of both husband and wife and date they moved in to house, Clement Cor built the tenement circa 1590, his wife, Helen Bellenden.Inscriptions : C.C  H.B   SPES . ALTERA . VITAE (Hope The Other Life). 1590  The other lintel Inscriptions : O Lord (not readable).

Advocate's Close High Street Royal Mile
Advocates Close Lintel High Street Royal
Advocates Close Lintel 2 High Street Roy
Advocate's Close High Street Royal Mile

Roxburgh’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Roxburgh’s Close on the north side of the High Street in the Royal Mile Edinburgh is named after John Roxburgh a chef and Burgess of Edinburgh in 1605. As most close’s the name changed with the owner of the land as this was owned originally by Henry Cant who owned property in Advocate’s Close. The Close is also famous for another resident Donnchadh Ban MacIntyre a famous Gaelic Poet. At the foot of Roxburgh’s Close is a courtyard which I believe was part of Writers’ Court as the doorway from Warriston’s close that enters the building where Zizzi restaurant stands has a lintel with the initials of the Chambers brothers Robert and William and the date 1851. 

Roxburgh's Close High Street Royal Mile
MacIntyre Plaque Roxburgh Close High Str

In the centre of Roxburgh Court are four iron slabs with carvings and dates with names. The four slabs represent the trees that once stood in the courtyard and the dates of their planting. The trees are from new world destinations of the time.  1725 Acer Saccharinum (silver maple from North American Maple).1767  Betula dalecarlica (A Swedish Birch tree from Sweden), 1842 Betula Utilis (Himalayan Birch Tree from Nepal), 1906  Sorbus Commixta (Japanese rowan tree from Japan).

Roxburgh's Court Artwork Royal Mile High

Warriston’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Warriston’s Close named after Lord Warriston who lived in the close, as  did Sir Thomas Craig of Riccarton. William and Robert Chambers who lived in Writers’ Close on the west side of Warriston’s Close were just a few of the famous residents. The previous name of  the close were Bruce’s Close after Robert Bruce of Stirling who lived here in 1566. Access to Warriston Close can also be gained from Roxburgh’s Close. Thee other more famous close which can be accessed from Warriston’s Close is Real Mary King’s Close. This close can only be accessed from the attraction as this is an underground street and possibly buried when the plague was at its height.  

John Knox Manse

Warriston's Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

The site of John Knox’s Manse can be found in Warriston’s Close. Go in the Archway marked  Warriston’s Close and Writer’s Court and turn left and down steps and you will see the plaque next to a black door. Other people who lived here are Sir Archibald Johnston (Lord Warriston) 1611 -1663, who named the Close. As the naming of closes and land (tenements) was usually done by the owners.   

Writers’ Court

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Writers' Court is found off Warriston's Close The lintel of the door is where the court once stood. The initials are WC (William Chambers) a publisher and printer like his brother RC (Robert Chambers). They lived in Writers' Court in 1851. 

Writers' Court High Street Royal Mile Edinburgh
Writers' Court  lintel High Street Royal

Real Mary King’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

This is a real look back in to Edinburgh’s past. The underground streets and places where the people of Edinburgh lived, a historically accurate example of life in Edinburgh between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, Tales of ghosts, legends and murders. Where the plague victims were walled up and left to die. Take the guided tour based on a onetime resident, and listen to the fascinating stories. Real Mary Kings Close Edinburgh and the entrance to the underground street.

Mary King's Close High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh City Chambers

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Exchange Buildings foundation stone was laid in September 1753 by the Grand Master of the Scottish masons George Drummond. The New Royal Exchange was completed in 1761.  Designed by John Adam. In 1811 it became the City Chambers when the Town Council moved here from the Tolbooth.  The Edinburgh Council Chambers was extended in 1904 and 1934 it has served as the administrative centre for Edinburgh Corporation, since 1975 for the Council of the City of Edinburgh

City Chambers High Street Royal Mile Edi

The inscription on the bronze plaque reads; THE CITY CHAMBERS –  FORMERLY – THE ROYAL EXCHANGE – DESIGNED BY JOHN ADAM THE ELDEST OF THE ADAM BROTHERS. – THIS BUILDING WAS ERECTED 1753 – 1761 – AS AN EXCHANGE AND CUSTOMS HOUSE – IN 1811 IT BECAME THE CITY CHAMBERS – WHEN THE TOWN COUNCIL MOVED HERE FROM THE TOLBOOTH. – EXTENDED IN 1904 AND 1924 IT SERVED AS – THE ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRE FOR EDINBURGH CORPORATION – AND SINCE 1978 FOR THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF EDINBURGH –  PRESENTED IN 1983 BY THE OLD EDINBURGH CLUB FOUNDED IN THE OLD COUNCIL CHAMBERS 29 JANUARY 1908 – Lord Provost George Drummond, laid the foundation-stone in September 1753.

city of edinburgh chambers royal mile hi

Edinburgh Award 

Golden Hands

High Street Royal Mile

Edinburgh Award printed on the paving stones of the City Chambers quadrangle you can see the golden hands of famous people awarded by Edinburgh, such as Author J.K. Rowling Olympic champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Artist Richard Demarco, Author Ian Rankin, Singer Annie Lennox, Scientist Professor Peter Higgs, George Kerr CBE Judo 10th Dan, Dame Elizabeth Blackadder Painter, 46664 Concert Nelson Mandela speech. Tom Gilzean icon of the Royal Mile, Ken Buchanan Boxer, Undisputed World Lightweight Champion.

STEVEN 14. Golden Hands Award Edinburgh
SIR CHRIS HOY. Golden Hands Award Edinbu
Walkway of Golden Hands Awards High Stre
IAN RANKIN. Golden Hands Award Edinburgh
GEORGE KERR. Golden Hands Award Edinburg
RICHARD DEMARCO.Golden Hands Award Edinb
46664 MANDELA . Golden Hands Award Edinb
DAME ELIZABETH BLACKADDER.Golden Hands A
TOM GILZEAN. Golden Hands Award Edinburg
ANNIE LENNOX. Golden Hands Award Edinbur
SIR TOM FARMER. Golden Hands Award Edinb
J K ROWLING. Golden Hands Award Edinburg

The High Constables 

of Edinburgh Plaque

Edinburgh’s Police Force, in the year 1611 the privy council of King James VI ordered the Burgh to appoint constables to impose law and order on the streets of Edinburgh. This was taken over by a regular police force in Edinburgh in 1805.

High Constabulary Edinburgh Plaque.

Alexander the Great

with his Horse Bucephalus

City Chambers 

High Street Edinburgh

The statue that stands in Edinburgh City Chambers quadrangle is of Alexander the Great and his horse Bucephalus. The statue was cast in Bronze in 1883. The wondrous horse Bucephalus the horse that Alexander the Great rode for thousands of miles and through many battles to create his mighty empire. Both Horse Bucephalus and owner Alexander the Great tower over the square of Edinburgh City Chambers on the High Street in the Royal Mile.

ALEXANDER & BUCEPHALUS.jpg

General Stanislaw Wadyslaw Maczek

Statue 1892 -1994

General Stanislaw Wadyslaw Maczek reach the rank Lieutenant General in the Polish army and was the commander of the 1st Polish Panzer Division in World War II. Stanislaw was born in Lwow Poland in 1892 fought in the 1st World War with the Austrian Army and in the 2nd World War was Commander of the new formed 1st Polish Armoured Division, nicknamed “Black Division” which was created in February 1942 at Duns in Scotland. Stanislaw and his Polish Army numbering circa 1600 were trained over 2 years in Scotland before they took park in the Normandy Landings in 1944. He and his men were instrumental in the major part of the war in France and Germany and after the war he was left homeless. A friend and Sargent in his command gave him a job in his bar in Edinburgh. In 1985 he was invited to the city of Breda in the Netherlands for the anniversary of its liberation were he was given a heroes welcome. When he died at the age of 102 years in 1994

he was buried in the Polish military cemetery in Breda Netherlands. 

General Stanislaw Maczek Statue High Str

The Black Turnpike

High Street

Royal Mile

Mary Queen of Scots

Last Night in Edinburgh 1567. 

The Black Turnpike, also known as the ‘Auld Bishop of Dunkeld’s lodging’ was built in 1461 on the south side of  the High Street immediately west of where the Tron Kirk now stands. It was demolished in 1788 to make way for Hunter Square and Blair Street. The plaque can be seen on the wall of the City Chambers.The inscription reads “On this site stood the lodging of Sir Simon Preston of Craigmillar (known as the Black Turnpike) the lord provost of the city of Edinburgh 1566 – 1567 in which lodging Mary Queen of Scotland after her surrender to the confederate lords at Carberry Hill was imprisoned overnight in Edinburgh 15 June 1567 in a stone chamber 13-foot square and 8-foot high. On the following evening she was conveyed to Holyrood and thereafter to Loch Leven Castle as a state prisoner. After 19 years of captivity, Mary was tried and condemned to death in October 1586, ending only with her execution at Fotheringhay on 8 February 1587”. To see more about Mary Queen of Scots visit Jedburgh where you can walk round where she once lived. With many interesting artefacts on display. 

The Black Turnpike memorial Stone to Mar

Hugh Miller  (1802 – 1856) 

Plaque

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Geologist Naturalist and Folklorist. There is a bust of Hugh Miller in the Hall of Heroes at the Wallace Monument in Stirling. Hugh Miller was editor of Witness, an evangelical newspaper established in 1840 by the Scottish geologist and writer. He committed suicide in December 1856. A shocked Western world mourned him, and his funeral procession was among the largest in the memory of Edinburgh residents. He lived in the seaside area of Portobello.

Hugh Miller Plaque High Street Royal Mil

The City of Edinburgh 

War Memorial

The memorial in front of the City Chambers building in the High Street Royal Mile. The stone of remembrance is to commemorate the people of Edinburgh who lost their lives in the 1st and 2nd World Wars It was unveiled on Armistice Day 1927 by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester son of King George V.

War Memmorial City Chambers Royal Mile E

Allan’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Allan’s Close was removed when the City Chambers extended their premises but a part of Allan’s Close remains underground and can only be seen on the Real Mary King’s Close tour of the old streets of Edinburgh.  The Close has had several names over time and each has been from the owner that lived there at the time.

Craig’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

The access to Craig’s Close from the High Street was closed when the Council offices were built in 1932. 

Link to Craig's Close

Anchor Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Anchor’s Close was named after a tavern that was at the top of the close in 1714. The Close ran from the High Street to Market Street before Cockburn Street was built and dissected it.  In 1718 it change Landlords to and Dawney Douglas’s Tavern which was a meeting place of the Crochallan Fencibles, a club with a membership of a number of the most distinguished men of the town. The Crochallan Fencibles Club was founded by William Smellie, a printer who founded the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He also printed the first Edinburgh edition of Burns in 1787.

Anchor Close has had many names as the name would change by the owner at the time. The Crochallan Fencibles was a convivial club for gentlemen which met in Dawney Douglas’s Tavern. William Smellie’s Printed Burns Poems and Allan Masterton wrote the music for Burns songs were also members of the club. Dawney Douglas’s Tavern was a very popular place as it served very good food at a very affordable price.

Anchor Close. Royal Mile High Street Edi
anchor close plaque High Street Royal Mi
Anchor Close Cockburn Street.

On the east side of the Close there are two 17th-century buildings, originally of four storeys. A doorway on the west side of the Close has a 17th-century inscription ”LORD BE MERCIFUL TO ME” and was the entrance to Dawney Douglas’s Tavern where the Crochallan Fencibles Club met.

Geddes’ Entry

High Street 

Royal Mile Edinburgh

John Kay 1742 – 1826

Geddes’ Entry connects with North Foulis’ Close and Old Stamp Office Close and was named after Robert Geddes of Scotstoun a surgeon by profession. On the front wall above the shops can be seen a plaque to John Kay. John Kay was a trained Barber and opened a shop at High Street where he became established and a member of the corporation of barber-surgeons in 1771. John Kay then changed his trade to become a successful painter of miniatures and also publishing sketches and caricatures of the local people which many were unhappy about the way they were portrayed.

Geddes' Entry High Street Royal Mile Edi
John kay Plaque. Geddes's Entry High Str

North Foulis’ Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

 

North Foulis Close named after John Foulis, who owned the land were he traded  as an apothecary (Chemist) and owner of a tenement in the close it was North because of further down the High Street was South Foulis’ Close at No 32 with no connection to this close or owner, near to Hyndford’s Close. 

North Foulis' Close High Street Royal Mi

James Gillespie

James Gillespie was 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 and the school. 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 at 231 High street Edinburgh and 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.

     

The inscription on the plaque reads; Formerly | the shop of | James Gillespie | of Spylaw | Tobacco and Snuff | Manufacturer | Founder of | James Gillespie’s | Hospital | and Schools | died 8 April 1797 | erected by | The governors 1883

North Foulis' Close James Gillespie High Street Royal Mile Edinburgh

Old Stamp Office Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

The Close’s in Edinburgh were named after the owners of buildings in the close at the time and thus had many names through time. Old Stamp Office Close was where the Stamp Office was for many years until it moved to Waterloo Place in 1821. It was the first place the Royal Bank of Scotland had offices when they were constituted in 1727 and remained here till 1753. It was also where Countess Eglinton and her seven beautiful daughters lived. Lady Eglinton and her daughters were the people to invite to any dance or party in the 1700s. There was also a school where the famous Flora McDonald of Skye was educated. She was famous for assisting Bonnie Prince Charlie in his escape after the battle of Culloden. The close has also been named after taverns, Ship Tavern close and Fortune’s Close. Both of these Taverns were in this close.

old stamp office close High Street Royal
old stamp house close plaque Royal mile

Lyon’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh 

Lyon’s Close 215 High Street Royal Mile Edinburgh between Old Stamp Office Close and Jackson’s Close. Possible entrance to Hospice of Elsie Inglis. Elsie Inglis was born on 16 August 1864 in Nainital India she first moved with her parents to Edinburgh in 1878   In 1892   Elsie Inglis qualified as a licentiate at the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1904 the small hospital opened by the Inglis family moved to the 219 High Street and was renamed The Hospice. In 1905 Inglis was appointed senior consultant of the Bruntsfield Hospital, which then merged with The Hospice in 1911. Elsie Inglis died on the 26 November 1917, she is interned in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. From funds that had been raise previously the remainder was used to establish the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh in July 1925 which later became a part of the Royal Infirmary and still bears her name.

Lyon's Close High Street Royal Mile Edin

Jackson’s Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Jackson’s Close on the North side of the upper High Street Royal Mile is named after John Jackson’s and his family who lived in the close from circa 1570 to at least 1893 when they sold property in the close. This close ends at Cockburn Street where many close’s were either split in two or shortened by the building of Cockburn Street which was a thoroughfare to Waverley Rail Station. 

Jackson's Close High Street Royal Mile.J

King Charles I Plaque

Jackson's Close 

When King Charles I decreed that the protestant book of common order was to replaced by a new catholic influenced Service book, he didn’t reckon with the reaction of the Scots! The anger felt by the people reached its peak in the church of St Giles in Edinburgh on the 22nd July 1637. When the Dean conducting the service began to read from the new service book. An old woman named Jenny Geddes flung her stool at the Dean’s head crying “Dost thou say mass at my lug?” thereby ensuring her place in history as a Scottish heroine.

Jackson's Close. High Street Royal Mile Edinburgh
 

Fleshmarket Close

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

 

Fleshmarket Close stretched from the High Street North to Market Street before Cockburn Street was built  (circa 1860) it cut through many old closes that stretched from the High Street northwards, which evidence of can be seen in  Fleshmarket Close where the smallest pub in Edinburgh can be found as well as Ginglin’ Geordies Tavern both on the north side of the severed close. On the High street side of the Fleshmarket Close was where Henry Dundas first practised as an Advocate and was to become the most powerful person in Scotland.

Fleshmarket Close High Street Looking down to Cockburn Streett Royal Mile

Edinburgh’s Smallest Pub 

Halfway House

Fleshmarket Close Edinburgh

The smallest pub in Edinburgh can be found halfway down the north side of Fleshmarket Close on the way to the Market Street entrance of Waverley train station. This tavern offers real ale from all over Scotland.

Halfway House Fleshmarket Close High Str

Jinglin’ Geordie’s Pub

Fleshmarket Close Edinburgh

Jinglin’ Geordie’s in Fleshmarket Close was named after George Heriot a famous Edinburgh Jeweller and Goldsmith 1563 – 1624. George Heriot was Jeweller and Goldsmith to King James VI. When George Heriot died he had no family so he left his estate to build a school for the education of “Puire fatherless bairns o the toun of Edinburgh” (poor fatherless children of Edinburgh). The school is still a centre for education and has been described as the school J.K.Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books.  The picture shows Jnglin’ Geordie’s Tavern looking up Fleshmarket Close to Cockburn Street. The short cut to the High Street Royal Mile from Market Street and Waverley Train Station

Jinglin' Geordies Fleshmarket Close Roya

Cockburn Street

High Street

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Link To Cockburn Street

Cockburn Street Edinburgh

Advocate's Close Royal Mile

Allan's Close Royal Mile

Anchor Close Royal Mile

Bell's Wynd Royal Mile

Borthwick's Close Royal Mile

Burnet's Close Royal Mile

Byre's Close Royal Mile

Craig's Close Royal Mile

Covenant Close Royal Mile

Fleshmarket Close Royal Mile

Geddes' Entry Royal Mile

Jackson's Close Royal Mile

Lyon's Close Royal Mile

North Foulis' Close Royal Mile

New Assembly Close Royal Mile

Old Fishmarket Close

Old Assembly Close Royal Mile

Old Stamp Office Close Royal Mile

Roxburgh's Close Royal Mile

Stevenlaw's Close Royal Mile

Warriston's Close Royal Mile

Writer's Court Royal Mile 

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© 2020 by All About Edinburgh. 

started 16 / 03 /2017

About East Lothian Attractions