The History of Leith

July 6, 2011

St. Roque chapel (Now removed)

After passing the old mansion named East Morningside House, the White House Loan joins at right angles the ancient thoroughfare named the Grange Loan, which led of old from the Linton Road to St. Giles’s Grange, and latterly the Causewayside.
On the south side of it a modern villa takes its name of St. Roque from an ancient chapel which stood there, and the ruins of which were extant within the memory of many of the last generation.
The chapels of St. Roque and St. John, on the Burghmuir, were bpth dependencies of St. Cuthbert’s Church. The historian of the latter absurdly conceives it to have been named from a French ambassador, Lecroc, who was in Scotland in 1567. The date of its foundation is involved in obscurity; but entries occur in the Treasurer’s Accounts for 1507, when on St. Roque’s I)ay (isth August) Jamesb IV. made an offering of thirteen shillings. “That this refers to the chapel on the Burghmuir is proved,” says Wilson, ” by the evidence of twocharters signed by the king at Edinburgh on the
same day.”
Arnot gives a view of the chapel from the northeast, showing the remains of a large pointed window, that had once been filled in with Gothic tracery; and states that it is owing ” to the superstitious awe of the people that one stone of this chapel has been left upon another—a superstition which, had it been more constant in its operations, might have checked the tearing zeal of reformation. About thirty years ago the proprietor of the ground employed masons to pull down the walls of the chape!; the scaffolding gave way; the tradesmen were killed. The accident was looked upon as a judgment against those who were demolishing the house of God. No entreaties nor bribes by the proprietor could prevail upon tradesmen to accomplish its demolition.”
It was a belief of old that St. Roque’s intercession could protect all from pestilence, as he was distinguished for his piety and labours during a plague in Italy in 1348. Thus Sir David Lindesay
says of—
” Superstitious pilgrainages
To monie divers imagis;
Sum to Sanct Roche with diligence,
To saif them from the pestilence.”
Thus it is, in accordance with the attributes ascribed in Church legends to St. Roque, that we find his chapel constantly resorted to by the victims of the plague encamped on the Burghmuir, during the prevalence of that scourge in the sixteenth century

Source-Old and New Edinburgh.

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