The History of Leith

June 23, 2011


ABBEY SANCTUARY: The letter ‘S’ across the girth means ‘Sanctuary’, formerly bordered by the Girth Cross. Debtors could not be arrested if they kept within the Sanctuary. In 1881 imprisonment for debt was abolished.

ACHESON HOUSE: Built in 1633 for Sir Archibald Acheson and Dame Margaret Hamilton. Restored in 1938 and used as the Canongate manse till 1947. Now the Scottish Craft Centre.

ARTHUR’S SEAT: 822 feet high; an extinct (we hope) volcano. At sunrise on ist May each year a service is held on the summit, conducted by the parish minister.

THE CASTLE: Probably first used by the Picts; the oldest building is St Margaret’s Chapel (c. 1090). There is a seat for the Governor in Canongate Church, for the Castle has from the foundation of Holyrood been within the parish of Canongate; this was confirmed at the Reformation.

CHESSEL’S COURT: The last exploit of Deacon Brodie took place here, giving Robert Louis Stevenson the idea for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

CROFT-AN-RIGH (Croft Angry): According to tradition, the Regent Moray’s house; now the house of the royal gardener.

JEANIE DEAN’S COTTAGE: See The Heart of Midlothian.

DIRLETON LAND: 1624; formerly the home of Sir John Nisbet, Lord Dirleton. Restored in 1954.

DUNSAPIE: Here Bonnie Prince Charlie addressed his troops before Prestonpans. Drawing his sword, he said, ‘My friends, I have thrown away the scabbard.’

GIBB’S CLOSE: Burke murdered Bonnie Mary Paterson in his brother’s house here.

GOLFER’S LAND: A gift of money from the Duke of York (later James VII) to John Patersone, shoemaker, his partner, for beating at golf two Englishmen,
was used for building this house. Note the anagram, ‘I hate no persone’.

Source-The Kirk in the Canongate

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