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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


Volume 10 Page 276
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256 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Such of the title-deeds of this property as we have obtained access to are unfortunately quite modern, and contain no reference to early proprietors; but one of the present owners described a sculptured stone, containing a coat of arms surmounted by a mitre, that was removed from over the inner doorway A very fine specimen of the ancient within the last few years at the head of some years since, and which appears to have been the Kennedy arms. If it be permissible to build on such slender data, in the absence of all other evidence, we have here, in all probability, the town mansion of the good , Bishop Kennedy, the munificent patron of learning, and the able and upright counsellor of James 11. and 111.' The whole appearance of the building is perfectly consistent with this supposition. The form and decorations of the doorways, particularly those already described, all prove an early date ; while the large size and elegant mouldings of the windows, and the massive appearance of the wbole building, indicate such magnscence as would well consort with the dignity of the primacy at that early period. timber-fronted lands of the Old Town stood till Trunk's Close, behind the Fountain Well, on the site of a plain stone tenement that has since replaced it. The back portion of the old building, however, still remains entire, including several rooms with fine stuccoed ceilings, and one large hall beautifully finished with richly carved pillasters and oak panneling, which is described in the title-deeds as " presently "--i.e., in 1739--" a meeting-house possest by Mr William Cocburn, minister of the gospel." It had previously formed the residence of Sir John Scot of Ancrum, the first of that title, who was created a baronet by Charles 11. in 1671. From him it was acquired by Sir Gilbert Elliot of Stobs, in 1703, and here resided that baronet, and his more illustrious son, General Elliot, the gallant defender of Gibraltar, better known by his title of Lord Heathfield. On the pediment over the window of a fine old stone land on the west side of Trunk's Close, is the inscription in bold characters :-HODIE MIHI * CRAS - TIBI - It is worthy of notice that the same inscription is appropriately carved in similar characters over the splendid toinb of Thomas Bannatine, in the Greyfriars' Churchyard. Several other ancient tenements in this close are worthy of inspection for their antique irregularity of construction. But the chief Lion among the venerable fabrics of the Old Town of Edinburgh has long been the singularly picturesque structure which terminates the High Street towards the east, and forms the mansion provided shortly after the Reformation, at the expense of the town, for its f i s t parish minister, the great Reformer, John Knox. Chambers remarks A confused tradition of its having been an Episcopal residence is still preserved among the inhabitants, founded, it may be presumed, on the sculptured mitre. The old dame who first admitted US to inspect it, stated that it was Bishop 8undiEands' house; a name, it is perhaps unnecessary to remark, not to be found in Keith's li8t. VroNEmE-Ancient Sculpture, Sandilands' close.
Volume 10 Page 277
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