top of page

Lawnmarket Attractions



Royal Mile Edinburgh

The Lawnmarket is the street where the linen was sold at market hence the name. As you walk down the hill from Castlehill at the mid point of the Lawnmarket can be found on the left a well preserved 16th century townhouse called Gladstone's Land built circa 1552. Next going through a tunnel you will come across Lady Stair’s House which is where the Writer’s Museum is and crossing over the road you come to the High Court on the left with a Statue of David Hume Scottish philosopher, historian and economist outside. Directly opposite is the site where the last public hanging took place. See the plaque and cobbles. The south side of the Lawnmarket has a strong Dutch influence. Do not miss Riddle's Court and the first public library, Fisher's Court, and Brodie's Close where the notorious William (Deacon) Brodie lived. 

The All About Edinburgh books will guide you to all the places to see.

Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

Lawnmarket Attractions


(South Side)

Johnston’s Close

Lawnmarket Edinburgh

Johnston’s Close Lawnmarket Edinburgh is the first tenement after the west Bow on the south side of the Lawnmarket in the Royal Mile before Riddle’s Land and has no visible name. However, the Land where a tenement was built was owned by Sir Patrick Johnston Lord provost and knight of the realm in 1700 and a member of parliament for the city in 1700 to 1710.  A Close would be named after the owner.  Also other names connected with the first Close of the Lawnmarket are Johnston Glover and Edward Johnston junior. The close is now a private residence used for short term lets. 

Johnston's Close Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinbugh

Riddle’s Close Riddle's Court


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Riddle’s (Riddell) Close and Court was originally Built on land owned by George Riddell where the name originates from. The Fishers then sold it to Patrick Maule of the Panmure Family in turn sold it to George McMorran. Then Baillie John McMorran built a house on the land for himself in 1590. He was one of the wealthiest residents of Edinburgh at that time. Inside you can see the different interiors from the 16th – 19th centuries. The story of the building can be seen in the painted ceilings by Patrick Geddes. See where the banquet was held when King James the sixth stayed here with his Queen. It now is home to The Patrick Geddes Centre, Riddle’s Court, 322 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2PG and the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust. Available for weddings, conferences, functions and public tours.

An inscription above the arch reads: 

VIVENDO DISCIMUS (living we learn)

Riddle's Court
riddle's court entrance royal mile lawnmarket
Riddles Close and Court Plaque
Riddle's Court Lawnmarket Edinburgh
Riddle's Court, Archway, Lawnmarket, Edinbrgh, attractin, tours, tourists, Royal Mile,

Scottish Central Library


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Scottish Central Library 312-320 Lawnmarket founded by Carnegie UK Trust in 1921 and opened in 1953 after renovations. It was later merged with the National Library of Scotland in 1974. This was part of Fisher’s Land the building built for Thomas Fisher a merchant and first Chamberlain of Edinburgh in 1699.

Central Library Shield
Central Library.JPG
Scottish Central Library Plaque Fisher's Land

Fisher’s Close


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Fisher’s Close named from Fisher’s Land owned by Thomas Fisher built a tenement on the land previously known as Hamilton’s Close which Cant’s Land was at the foot of the close  Cant was the previous Land owner prior to Fisher. 

Fisher's Land and Close Lawnmarket Royal Mile
Fisher's Close and Land Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

Brodie’s Close

Lawnmarket Royal Mile



William (Deacon) Brodie (28 September 1741 – 1 October 1788), more commonly known as Deacon Brodie lived in Brodie’s Close in the Lawnmarket Edinburgh, where he also had his workshop. William Brodie was a Scottish cabinet maker and Deacon of trades (This is where the name Deacon came from). By day, William Brodie was a respectable tradesman, a Deacon and a member of the Edinburgh Town Council. When evening came he used his skills as a burglar. The money from his crimes was used to maintain his second life, including five children, two mistresses and a gambling habit. He was also a member of the Edinburgh Cape Club founded in the 1700s. The main meeting place was the Isle of Man Arms in Craig’s Close in the Old Town of Edinburgh. A meeting place for the wealthy and nobility where all manner of frivolities would take place. When Deacon Brodie was eventually caught for trying to rob the Royal Mint, he was arrested and sentenced to hang. In 1788 he was taken to the Edinburgh Tolbooth (jail) and hanged by the neck. The Tolbooth is no longer there but is marked with brass cobbles and the Heart of Midlothian. Deacon Brodie’s life inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. William Brodie designed and erected the gallows in the High Street and was also the first to hang on them. The Gallows are marked with a plaque and cobbles at the corner of George IV Bridge across from David Hume’s Statue. Deacon Brodie’s Grave is in the Apse Church in Chapel Street.

William Deacon Brodie's House Lawnmarket Edinburgh
William Deacon Brodie Lawnmarket Edinburgh
William Brodie's Close Door to House

Buccleuch Parish Church

The Church that stands in Chapel Street at the junction of the Cross Causeway was originally called the Chapel of Ease as St Cuthbert’s in Lothian Road had become too small for its congregation. The congregation\ of St Cuthbert’s had the Chapel of Ease built in 1754 and it opened its door in 1756. The most significant factor is the graveyard as there are a number of important people of the period buried in the graveyard here. Charles Darwin’s uncle of the same name, William Deacon Brodie, (master craftsman and robber), Dr Andrew Duncan (pioneer into mental health) and Dr Thomas Blacklock a minister of the church in a Borders Town was better known as “The Blind Poet”. Due to illness as a baby he lost his sight before he turned 1 year. He lived on the corner of Chapel Street and West Nicholson Street now a public house named (The Blind Poet) where on the walls can be seen many poems written by Dr Thomas Blacklock, The Blind Poet.

Apse Chapel of Ease
Apse Church Grave yard Deacon Brodie's Grave

Buchanan’s Close


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Buchanan’s Close named from Buchanan’s Land, previously a tenement of the Abbot of Cambuskenneth which burned down in the fire of 1725. Also could have been Walter Willie’s Close. Now a restaurant entrance for the Hotel on George IV Bridge.

Buchanan's Close Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

Lawnmarket Gallows 

Last Public Execution

Plaque and Cobbles

The brass plaque on the Wall of the Lothian Chambers Building and brass cobbles at the side of the walkway show the place where the gallows stood and the site of the last man to hang in public in Edinburgh. The site of the gallows is marked by the three brass plates set at the edge of the pavement. The first public execution from the same gallows was on 1 October 1788, a William (Deacon) Brodie. The gallows William (Deacon) Brodie had designed and funded and built the year before.  The inscription on the brass plaque reads; Site of the Last Public Execution in Edinburgh. The site of the gallows is marked by the three brass plates set at the edge of the pavement in front of this notice. George Bryce, the Ratho Murderer, was executed here on 21st June 1864, the Last public execution in Edinburgh.

Lawnmarket Gallows Brass Setts Edinburgh
Lawnmarket Gallows Plaque Edinburgh

Burns Tavern by George Cattermole

Burns Tavern previously Dowie’s Tavern in Libberton's Wynd ran from the Lawnmarket

to the Cowgate on the eastern side of the George IV Bridge.

Libberton’s Wynd was knocked down with the building of George IV Bridge in 1834.

Johnnie Dowie was the owner of Dowie’s Tavern until his death in 1817.

The new owner changed the name to Burns Tavern a favourite Howff of Robert Burns

when he lived across the road in 1786. Also many other notable gents of the time frequented the Tavern.

They included Henry Raeburn, Robert Fergusson and Thomas Campbell, David Hume, Christopher North,

David Herd and Archibald Younger all now famous names of Edinburgh.

Burns Tavern

 Lawnmarket Wellhead


Royal Mile Edinburgh

The Lawnmarket Wellhead can be found up from St Giles Cathedral at the junction of the Lawnmarket and the High Street. This is where the residents of the Lawnmarket would collect their fresh drinking water every day. The water was piped from the reservoir at Castlehill to cisterns / wellheads to give the people fresh water.

Lawnmarket wellhead royal mile Edinburgh
Lawnmarket Wellhead Plaque
Lawnmarket Nothside

Lawnmarket Attractions


(North Side)

Milne’s Court 


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Milne’s (Mylne’s) Court Was the first open court of its type in Edinburgh, it was built in 1692 by Robert Milne master mason to the King. The buildings were renovated in 1914. The plaque at the entry to Milne’s Court reads; One of the first open squares in old Edinburgh was designed and built by Robert Milne in the late 17th century. The old building which formed the west side of the court was demolished in 1883. The north and south blocks were restored and the east range rebuilt by the university of Edinburgh between 1966 – 1970. This was made possible by generous friends of the university.  

Milne's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh
Milne's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh entrance
Milne's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh entrance

James's Court


Royal Mile Edinburgh

James’s Court 493 -495 Lawnmarket Edinburgh Named after the builder James Brownhill. James’s Court was built around 1725. The philosopher David Hume and James Boswell the lawyer and author lived here. The court was destroyed by fire and re-built in 1857. There are three entry’s to the Court the West Entry where Sir John Lauder (Lord Fountainhall lived, The East Entry which was previously named Jardine’s Close after George Jardine who live here and Mid Entry the main entrance to the Court where John Dickson of Hartree lived.

James Court Plaque Lawnmarket Royal Mile
James Boswell's House Plaque James's Court Edinburgh
James Boswell James's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh
James's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

James Court is a large area and has a stain Glass window worth seeing and a sculpture of a pigeon in a basket. James Court is also connected to Makars’ Court and the Writers’ Museum. Inscription on Lintel above stain glass window reads Stain Glass Window James Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA (ONLY THE LORD IN VAIN), with date 1860 and initials FC PH which stands for Free Church Presbytery Hall. The images in the glass are of, centre, King James VI, with Sir David Lindsay of the Mount and George Buchanan to his right and left. This window is part of the College and Offices of the Free Church of Scotland in North Bank Street Edinburgh.

Stain Glass Window James's Court Lawnmarket Edinburgh
Sculpture James's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

Gladstone’s Land


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Gladstone’s Land Lawnmarket Edinburgh is on the north side of the Lawnmarket section of the Royal Mile. Visit a building of the 16th century and experience what life was like in the Old Town by visiting Gladstone’s Land. Purchased in 1631 by a Thomas Gladstane and left to his son William Gladstane surgeon to Colonel Lauder’s regiment. This is a restored tenement building to show the conditions people lived in, in Edinburgh in the 17th Century.

Gladstone's Land
Gladeston's Land Lawnmarket Royal Mile E
Gladstone's Land Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh
royal mile lawnmarket Gladstone's Land Edinburgh Attraction

Robert Burns

First Visit to Edinburgh 

Robert Burns lived in a boarding house of Dr Blacklock's on arrival in Edinburgh, the actual close Robert Burns Lived in was Baxter’s Close, but has not survived (knocked down when George IV Bridge was built. The Plaque above Lady Stair’s Close entrance reads; In a house on the east side of the close Robert Burns Lived during his first visit to Edinburgh 1786.

Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh Robert Burns first visited Edinburgh
Dowie's or Burns Tavern Edinburgh Samuel Swarbreck

Lady Stair's House 

Lawnmarket Edinburgh

The Writers' Museum is housed in Lady Stair’s House which was built in 1662. This was originally called Lady Gray’s Close the widow of Lord William Gray who was the wealthiest merchant of the time. After his death the house was sold to the Earl of Stair and the house was renamed after his wife on his death Lady Stair’s House. The House was purchased in 1895 by the Earl of Roseberry and he had it restored in 1897. He later in 1907 gifted it to the City for use as a municipal museum.

royal mile lawnmarket lady stair's house
Lady Stair's Close and House Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

Writers' Museum

Lady Stair's Close

Lawnmarket Edinburgh

The Writer’s Museum is dedicated to the lives and work of Scotland's great literary figures. Rare collections include early editions, manuscripts, portraits, photographs, and personal belongings of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Entry is Free The Link to the interior is below.

Writers' Museum Interior Free Entry
Writer's Museum Sign Lawnmarket Lady Stair's House Royal Mile Edinburgh

Makars’ Court


Royal Mile Edinburgh

The Makars are the award winning writers / Poets of Scotland. There are 39 Slabs that have the makers names inscribed one slab for each person. Below is a link to the Makars’ the slabs and who they are / were.

A Makar is a poet or author a person skilled in the art of writing.

Makers Court Slabs
Wardrop's Court royal mile lawnmarket

Blackie House

Wardrop’s Court Lawnmarket

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Blackie House Lawnmarket Wardrop’s Court Royal Mile Edinburgh was named after the resident James Stuart Blackie. The ornate window surrounds of his house can be seen in North bank Street on the second floor. Look up above the shops on North Bank Street to see the window with the memorial to James Blackie a University of Edinburgh Professor in Greek and German. He left 250, 19th century Greek books to the University Library which are still being used by students today. He was born in Aberdeen and studied in Germany and Italy. He was the inspiration behind the founding of the Celtic chair of the University of Edinburgh. 

Wardrop Court Blackie House Lawnmarket R
James Stuart Blackie window Blackie House

Wardrop’s Court


Royal Mile Edinburgh

Lawnmarket Wardrop’s Court Royal Mile Edinburgh is the last court before crossing Bank Street to the final building in the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh High Court. Wardrop Court was previously Middle Baxter’s Close and the John Wardrop built a tenement in the court and called it Wardrop’s Court with the entrance archway Wardrop’s Close. The entrance is noticeable by the Dragons on each corner. The Dragons were sculpted by J S Gibson circa 1890.

Wardrop's Court Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh

Blue Dragons

Wardrop’s Court Lawnmarket

Royal Mile Edinburgh

The plaque on the right hand side of the court entrance reads; The pair of dragons facing the Lawnmarket were carved by J S Gibson in the 1890s. The pair at the rear were carved in 1911 by Arthur Geddes when he was 16 under the supervision of Alec Miller, a craftsman closely associated with the arts and crafts movement. Arthur was the son of Patrick Geddes, the influential biologist and town Planner who dedicated much of this life to the regeneration of the Old Town. The dragons were restored in 2012 by the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage, with support from the Brownlee Old Town Trust and the Geddes family. 

Wardrop's Close Lawnmarket Blue Dragons  Royal Mile Edinburgh
Wardrop's Court Blue Dragons Plaque

David Hume Statue


Royal Mile Edinburgh

David Hume was born on the 26 April 1711 in Edinburgh, he was a Scottish philosopher and historian. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. David Hume attended the University of Edinburgh. Hume achieved great literary fame as a historian when publishing, "The History of England". David Hume lived from 1771 until his death in 1776 at his home in St. Andrew Square in Edinburgh's New Town.

The actual site of his home is 21 St David Street.

There are two thoughts on how St David’s Street was named firstly

after King David I son of Malcolm III and the other after David Hume.

David Hume wrote many books including, A Treatise of Human Nature, The Life of David Hume and many more.

David Hume Statue Lawnmarket Royal Mile

Lawnmarket South Side


Johnston Terrace

Upper Bow

Johnston's Close

Riddles Court Royal Mile

Fisher's Close Royal Mile

Brodie's Close Royal Mile

Buchanan's Close Royal Mile


Lawnmarket North Side


Wardrop's Close Royal Mile

Lady Stair's Close Royal Mile

Makars' Court Royal Mile

James Court East Entry Royal Mile

James Court Mid Entry Royal Mile

James Court West Entry Royal Mile

Milne's Court Royal Mile

bottom of page