West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

West Port named after the Gate in the Flodden Wall that stood across the road that was access to the Grassmarket. The road and area outside the wall was known as west port suburbs. In this area was the abode of the murderers Burke and Hare, Tanner’s Close between King’s Stables Road and West Port the reason they were named the West Port Murders.

West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

Cordiner’s Land West Port Grassmarket

The term Cordiner comes from the French for shoemaker, ‘cordiner’ This Building (land) was where there were many Shoemakers. The three separate buildings of Cordiner’s Land have many original features take a walk in and see the conditions of where people lived and worked. The stone tablet above the entrance is the emblem for the ancient Cordiner’s Guild.

Cordiner's Land West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

Cordiner’s Land Plaque West Port Grassmarket

The inscription on the plaque reads; Behold how good a thing it is | and how becoming well |

Together such as brethren are | in unity to dwell | AD 1696

Cordiners' Land West Port Tablet

West Port Tenement Tablet

Inscription on a carved tablet above 64-66 West Port reads;


West Port Wall Tablet with inscription

West Port Murders

Burke and Hare Murderers Grassmarket Edinburgh


Burke and Hare were serial killers in Edinburgh from December 1827 to October 1828. Both from Ireland and came to Edinburgh for work as labourers.  The murders they carried out were also known as the West Port murders. The killings were carried out by two Irish immigrants, William Burke and William Hare. They sold the bodies of their victims, 17 in all to Dr Robert Knox, to be used in the medical school for teaching students. Burke and Hare would spend their evenings in the White Hart Inn in the Grassmarket where they would drink with potential victims, leave with them and take them to an ally or their lodgings where they would kill them with a form of strangulation so as not to damage the corpse.  Burke was the only one prosecuted for the crimes and was hanged in Edinburgh on 28 January 1829.  His skeleton hangs in the Anatomical Museum in the Medical School Teviot Row. Hare died penniless in London in 1858. Part of Burke’s sentence is that his body was to be put on public display for all eternity. There are more items on display e.g. death masks of Burke and Hare. A wallet made from the skin of Burke.


Children’s Rhyme about Burke and Hare

Up the close and down the stair,

In the house with Burke and Hare,

Burke’s the Butcher, Hare’s the thief,

Knox, the boy who buys the beef.

Burke and Hare Death Masks West Port Murders Grassmarket Edinburgh
west port burkes house Plan of West Port Suburbs

The Vennel West Port and Grassmarket Edinburgh

The Vennel is an Alleyway from the Grassmarket that joins to Heriot Place and exits at Lauriston Place. There are a number of residence on the steps on both sides, the Vennel then opens up to the west and on the east is the Flodden Wall and a tower where it is joined to the Telfer Wall which continues to Lauriston Place the wall was the city boundary and all to the west was outside the protection of the City Wall (Flodden Wall). The Flodden Wall Was built 1513 and the Telfer Wall circa 1630, was added to protect Heriot’s Hospital (School) from invasion. John Taillefer was the stone mason in charge of building the wall which it is named after. Now renamed 'The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie Steps'. 

Miss Jean Brodie Steps Vennel Grassmarket west port
The Vennel West Port Gate Grassmarket
Flodden wall marker foot vennel
Telfer Wall Heriot Place.Vennel West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh Castle

The Salvation Army Women’s Hostel

West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

The Salvation Army Women’s Hostel stands beside the Vennel and the site of the West Port Gate at the west end of the Grassmarket. The area going up the hill was known as Portsburgh which evidence still remains with street signs.

Salvation Army First Women's Hostel West Port Grassmarket

The Salvation Army Women’s Hostel Inscriptions

West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

Inscriptions on the 2 stones on the Hostel Building at the West Port read;

Upper Stone     

This stone was laid for | “the glory of god” | by  Mrs Deamwell Booth | of the Salvation Army | February 6th 1911


Lower Stone 

This stone was laid for | “the glory of god” | by  Right Hon. William s Brown | The Lord Provost | February 6th 1911

Salvartion Army Memorial Plaque First womens Hostel West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

The Salvation Army Women’s Hostel Inscriptions

West Port Grassmarket Edinburgh

Inscriptions on the 2 stones on the Hostel Building at the West Port read;

Upper Stone       

This stone was laid for | “the glory of god” | by   Rev’d A Wallace Williamson DD | St Giles Cathedral | February 6th 1911

Lower Stone  

This stone was laid for | “the glory of god” | by   Reverend Alexander Whyte DD | St Georges U.F.C. and Principal of | New College | February 6th 1911.

Salvation Army Hostel Grassmarket Plaque

West Port Memorial Garden

Grassmarket Edinburgh

The Grassmarket Memorial Garden Plaque reads; This Memorial Garden | was opened by | His Grace Douglas Fourteenth Duke of Hamilton | K.T. G.C.V.Q  A.F.C | in the presence of | The Lord Provost, Magistrates and Council | of the | City of Edinburgh | ministers of the Church of Scotland & The reformed Presbyterian Church | A representative detachment of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) | and a large public assembly | 24th October 1954

West Port Garden Grassmarket Edinburgh
West Port Community Graden Info Board Grassmarket
West Port Grassmarket Memorial Garden
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© 2020 by All About Edinburgh. 

started 16 / 03 /2017