Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


Volume 10 Page 438
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400 MEMORIALS OF EDIILBURGH. and the well has to be sought for within the recesses of a dark and unsightly drain, grudgingly constructed by the Railway Directors after an interdict had arrested them in the process of demolishing the ancient Gothic building, and stopping the fountain, whose miraculous waters-once the resort of numerous pilgrims-seem to find a few, even in our own day, who manifest the same faith in their healing virtues.' Most of the smaller convents and chapels within the capital have already been treated of along with the other features of their ancient localities. One, however, still remains to be noticed, not the least value of which is, that it still exists entire, and with some unusually rare relics of its original decorations. In early times there existed in the Cowgate, a little to the east of the old monastery of the Grey Friars, an ancient Maison Dim, as it was styled, which, having fallen into decay, was refounded in the reign of James V., chiefly by the contributions of Michael Macquhen, a wealthy citizen of Edinburbh, and afterwards of his widow, Janet Rynd. The hospital and chapel were dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, an& by the will of the foundress were left in trust to the Corporation of Hammermen, by whom the latter is now used as a hall for their own meetings. The foundation was subsequently augmented by two several donations from Hugh Lord Somerville in 1541 ; and though the building doubtless shared in the general ruin that swept over the capital in 1544, they must have been very speedily repaired, as the windows are still adorned with the ancient painted glass, containing the royal arms of Scotland encircled with a wreath of thistles, and those of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, within a laurel wreath, along with the shields of the founder and foundress also enclosed in ornamental borders. One other fragment, a Saint Bartholomew, has strangely escaped the general massacre of 1559, that involved the destruction of all the other apostles. The workmanship of the latter is decidedly inferior to that of the heraldic emblazonry-its hues have evidently faded ; while the deep ruby and bright yellow of the royal arms still exhibit the unrivalled brilliancy of the old glass-painters' work. These fragments of ancient painted glass possess a peculiar value, as scarcely another specimen of the Art in Scotland has escaped the destructive fury of the reforming mobs. Another unusual, though not equally rare feature, is the tomb of the foundress, which remains at the east end of the chapel, with the inscription round its border in ancient Gothic characters :- I e i r IpiB ane tonora5il woman, %net Mipnb, pe SPOUof~ u mqubiI ACiicel maTiqu-ben, 5urM of %b. founbrr of pip place, anb berePPit pe iiii bap of Them'. W. bno. m'. V. blp.' The centre of the stone is occupied with the arms of the founders, husband and wife, impaled on one shield. This sculptured slab is now level with a platform which occupies the 1 Lectures on the Antiquities of Edinburgh, by a Member of the Holy Guild of St Joseph. * The date assigned by Pennecuick for the death of the foundress is 1553 ; but this seems to be a mistake. She speaks in the charter of her husband having resolved on this Christian work wheu ' I greatly troubled with a heavy disease, and oppwsed with age," and as his endowment is dated 1503, this would make his widow survive him exactly half a century. The date on the tomb ia di5cult to decipher, being much worn, but it appears to be 1507. The deed executed by her is said to be dated so late as 1545, but the original is lost, and only a partial transcript exists among the recorda of the Corporation of Hammermen. If such be the correct date, it is strange that no notice should be taken of the burning of the town by the English the previous year, although the deed refers to property lying in the Eigh Street, and in various closes and wynds, which must then have been in ruins, or just rising from their ashes. The deed of 1545 is possibly an abstract of previous ones,including those of Lord Somerville, aa it specifies his barony of Carnwath Yiln, without naming him. Part iv. p. 126.
Volume 10 Page 439
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