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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Truir Church 1 THE TRON CHURCH. 187 is, into which the sun scarcely penetrates. But it once contained a tavern of great consideration in its time, ?The Star and Garter,? kept by a man named Cleriheugh, who is referred to in ? Guy Mannering,? for history and romance often march side by side in Edinburgh, and Scott?s picture of the strange old tavern is a faithful one. The reader . of the novel may remember how, on a certain Saturday night, when in search of Mr. Plzydell, Dandie Dinmont, guiding Colonel Mannering, turned into a dark alley, then up a dark stair, and then into an open door. While Dandie ?was whistling shrilly for the waiter, as if he had been one of his collie dogs, Mannering looked around him, and could hardly conceive how a gentleman of a liberal profession and good society should choose such a scene foi social indulgence. Besides the miserable entrance, the house itself seemed paltry and half ruinous. The passage in which they stood had a window to the close, which admitted a little Irght in the daytime, and a villainous compound of smells at all times, but more especially towards evening. Corresponding to this window was a borrowed lighl on the other side of the passage, looking into the kitchen, which had no direct communication with the free air, but received in the daytime, at second. hand, such straggling and obscure light as found its way from the lane through the window opposite. At present, the interior of the kitchen was visible by its own huge fires-a sort of pandemonium, where men and women, half-dressed, were busied in baking, boiling, roasting oysters, and preparing devils on the gridiron; the mistress of the place, with her shoes slipshod, and her hair straggling like that of Megzra from under a round-eared cap, toiling, scolding, receiving orders and giving them and obeying them all at once, seemed the presiding enchantress of that gloomy and fiery Tegion.? Yet it was in this tavern, perhaps more than any other, that the lawyers of the olden time held their high jinks and many convivialities. Cleriheugh?s was also a favourite resort of the magistrates and town councillors when a deep ,libation was deemed an indispensable element in the adjustment of all civic affairs; thus, in the last century, city wags used to tell of a certain treasurer d Edinburgh, who, on being applied to for new rope to the Tron Kirk bell, summoned the Council to consider the appeal. An adjournment to Cleriheugh?s was of course necessary ; but as one dinnei was insufficient for the settlement of this weighty matter, it was not until three had been discussed that the bill was settled, and the old rope spliced ! Before proceeding with the general history ot the High Street we will briefly notice that of the Tron Church, and of the great fire in which it was on the eve of perishing. The old Greyfriars, with the other city churches, being found insufficient for the increasing population, the Town Council purchased two sites, on which they intended to erect religious fabrics. One was on the Castle Hill, where the reservoir now stands ; the other was where the present Tron Church is now built. This was in the year 1637, when the total number of householders, as shown by the Council records, could not have been much over 5,000, as a list made four years before ?shows the numbers to have been 5,071, and the annual amount ofrents payable by them only ;EI~z,I 18 ss., hots money. Political disturbances retarded the progress of both these new churches. The one on the Castle Hill was totally abandoned, after having been partially destroyed by the English during the siege in 1650 ; and the other-the proper name of which is Christ?s Church at the Tron-was not ready for public worship till 1647, nor was it completely finished ,till 1663, at the cost of A6,000, so much did war with England and the contentions of the Covenanters and Cavaliers retard everything and impoverish the nation. On front of the tower over the great doorway a large ornamented panel bears the city arms in alto-relievo, and beneath them the inscription-XDEM HANC CHRISTO ET ECCLESIE SACRARUNT CIVES EDINBGRGENSES,, ANNO Doxr MDCLI. It is finished internally with an open roof of timber-work, not unlike that of the Parliament House. Much of the material used in the construction of the sister church on the Castle Hill was pulled down and used in the walls of the Tron, which the former was meant closely to resemble, if we may judge from the plan of Gordon of Rothiemay. 10 1644 the magistrates bought 1,000 stone weight of copper in Amsterdam to cover the roof; but such were the exigencies of the time that it was sold, and stones and lead were substituted in its place. In 1639 David Mackall, a merchant of Edinburgh; gave >,so0 merks, or about ;E194 sterling, to the magistrates in trust, for purchasing land, to be applied to the maintenance of a chaplain in the Tron Church, where he was to preach every Sunday morning at six o?clock, or such other hour as the wgistrates should appoint They may be truly said, continues Arnot, ?to have hid this talent in a napkin. They did not? appoint a preacher for sixty-four years. As money then bore ten per cent., although the interest of thii
Volume 1 Page 187
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