The History of Leith

April 20, 2011

Temptation to invent traditions

On the north Stide of the Tolbooth wynd, opposite the new Tolbooth (Now removed), opened the irregular alley named the Paunch Market, which contained the Piazzas and Bourse of Mary of Lorraine, and from whence a narrow alley, called Queen Street, leads to the shore.
A stately old building at the head of the latter, but which was pulled down in the year 1849, is stated to have been the residence of Mary of Lorraine during some portion of her quarrels with the Protestants; and the same mansion is said by tradition to have been briefly occupied by Oliver Cromwell
Its window-frames were all formed of oak, richly carved, and the panellings of the doors were of the same wood, beautifully embellished Its walls were decorated with well-executed paintings, which
seemed of considerable antiquity, and were afterwards in possession of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe
The mansion was elaborately decorated on the exterior with sculptured dormer windows, and other ornaments common to edifices of the period. Wilson seems inclined to think that the modern name of the street may have suggested the tradition that it was the residence of the Queen Regent, as it superseded the more homely one of the Paunch Market; but adds, “there is no evidence in its favour sufficient to overturn the statement of Maitland, who wrote at a, period when there was less temptation to invent traditions than now

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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