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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


KING'S STABLES, CASTLE BARNS, AND CASTLE mu. I53 of the school recently rebuilt in Ramsay Lane, that still bears his name. Since then it shared the fate of most of the patrician dwellings of the Old Town; its largest apartments were subdivided by h s y partitions into numerous little rooms, and the old mansion furnished latterly a squalid and straitened abode for a host of families of the very humblest ranks of life. The external appearance of this interesting range of buildings is more easily described with the pencil than the pen. The accompanying engraving exhibits the front. t,o the Castle Hill, and also shows a curious feature that attracted considerable notice, at the entrance to Todd'R Close, where, owing to the construction of the overhanging timber fronts, the whole weight of the buildings on each side seemed to be borne by a single slender stone pillar, of neat proportions, though exhibiting abundant evidence of age and long exposure to violence. The buildings already described in Blyth'R Close stood upon the west side, where a portion of them still remains. They retained, in the relics of their ancient decorations, evidence which appears to confirm the tradition of their having at one period been the residence of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise ; but it is to that on the east side alone that anything of an ecclesiastical character can, with propriety, be assigned. About halfway down the close, and directly opposite the main entrance on the west side, a pkojecting turnpike-stair gave access to a vestibule on the first floor, which formed only a small portion of what had originally been a large and magnificent apartment. This we conceive to have been what Maitland describes as " the chapel or private oratory of Mary of Lorraine."' Immediately on entering from the stair, a large doorway appeared on the left hand, which had apparently given access to a gallery leading acrose to the Palace on the opposite side of the close. Beyond this there was a niche placed, as usual, at the side of a large and handsome fireplace, with clustered Gothic pillars, of the same form as those already described in other parts of the building. The mouldings of this niche corresponded in character with those on the opposite side of the close, but the eculptured top had been removed. In the east wall, however, and almost directly opposite the fireplace, there was a large and highly ornamental niche,' of which we furnish a view. In the centre there was the figure of an angel holding a shield, and the whole character of the tracery and other ornaments waa in the richest style of decorated Gothic.( It, in all probability, served as a credence table, or other appendage to the altar of the chapel. This apartment was occupied as a schoolroom, about the middle of last century, by a teacher of note, named Mr John Johnstone. When he first resided in it, there wm a curious urn in the niche, and a small square stone behind the same, of so singular an appearance, that, to satisfy his curiosity, he forced it from the wall, when he found in the recess an iron casket, about seven inches long, four broad, and three deep, having a lid like that of a caravan-trunk, and secured by two claspR falling over the key-holes, and comhave the same place and precedency within the town precincts that was due tu the Nayoxa of London or Dublin, and that no other Provost should be called Lord Provost but he ; "4 privilege that seems to have been lost sight of by the civic dignitaries of the good town. ' Maitland, p. 206. ' This and various other examples serve to show that the principlea of pure Gothic architecture were followed to a much later date in Scotland than in England. The foundation stone of Caiue College, Cambridge, for example, a good specimen of the hybrid style of debased Qothic, was laid in 1565. Now in the collection of C. K. Sharpe, Eeq. U
Volume 10 Page 166
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Volume 10 Page 167
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