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Edinburgh Past and Present


LEITH. 1'3 on the site of the old building, erected in 1555 during the regency of Mary of Guise, and possesses several pictures of great merit-particularly an interesting view of Leith in the olden times, an admirable portrait of Admiral Lord Duncan, a very truthful and highly finished likeness of the Queen-Regent by Mytens, with Scott's grand and graphic painting of Vasco de Gama passing the Cape of Good Hope. So the Custom House is another erection of a large and interesting character, of the same description of building, with pillars and pediment in front, and having in the tympanum of its pediment a rather ostentatious sculpture of the Royal Arms. It is situated in North Leith, just at the west end of the lower drawbridge leading from Bernard Street into Commercial Place, with its back to the harbour, from which it is separated by a narrow strip of pier, where small craft are usually found moorkd. The Ecclesiastical structures, however, are perhaps still more deserving of attention, of which there are not a few rather stately fabrics. South Leith Church which stands on the east side of the Kirkgate, moved back from the thoroughfare about twenty yards, and surrounded by a graveyard, very neatly arranged and beautifully kept, in which many af the famed and influential of the district sleep their long deep sleep, is a noble edifice of the early Gothic type. It has a very handsome tower, rising from the ground in the north-west corner, and terminating in an elegant Gothic balustrade, on the right of which, in the gable of the church fronting the street, is a magnificent window of richly stained glass, which, when lit up by the rays of the setting sun or by the lights within, produces a fine effect. The old church, which this has displaced, was perhaps a still more imposing fabric. In its style it was likewise Gothic, but cruciform in its construction, with a turret or spire of wood and metal springing from its summit. It suffered in the conflagration of 1544, cadsed by the invasion of the Earl of Hertford, and was diminished to the nave. We may add that on the suppression of the church at Restalrig in 1609, this became the parochial place of worship, and was originally dedicated to St. Mary. St. John's Church, at first a chapel of ease, but now erected into a separate charge, is likewise an interesting building. It has a tower of two stages, the first quadrangular and adorned with pinnacles at the angles, the other octangular and surmounted by a balustrade and numerous pinnacles. Altogether the fabric is rather of the showy or flowery type, and when seen at a distance has a somewhat gingery or fantastic appearance. Another structure of the kind, not very far from it but in a different street, is perhaps a still better specimen of ecclesiastical architecture: we refer to Free St. John's. P
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QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. It was erected only a few years ago in consequence of the congregation being ejected from their old place of worship by a decree of the Law Courts in favour of the Auld Kirk. The building is of a composite character, has a very handsome tower topped by an open crown-like spire, after the manner of St. Giles’ in Edinburgh, and is a great ornament to the town. The Episcopal Church, however, is decidedly the finest structure of the kind in the parish. It is in ihe light Gothic style, and cruciform, With buttresses along its side walls, and a fine semicircular apse on the east gable. On the south-east side is a massive and well-Groportioned tower, springing from the ground and terminating in a spire of a peculiarly airy and graceful appearance. The windows are all of stained glass, with beautiful figures of Scripture scenes and characters painted on them; the furnishings are of the most handsome description ; and it is said to possess a peal of bells the finest in Scotland. The churches of the United Presbyterian denomination and the other Nonconforming bodies in this quarter are all of an humbler character, although that of St. Andrew’s Place in the Links, and Great Junction Street, on the margin of that broad and much frequented thoroughfare, are both very large and massive structures, and internally not quite destitute of very comely and effective ornamentation. In North Leith, likewise, there are a few very stately and attractive ecclesiastical fabrics. The United Presbyterian Church in Coburg Street, near the Citadel, is a conspicuous erection, with a Gothic front, central pediment and balustrade, and flanked with embrasured turrets. St. Ninian’s, a little further to the north-west, looking into Dock Street, and quite adjacent to the old Saxon arch which formed one of the entrances into the Citadel, is also an interesting structure. It is of the early Gothic, with handsome doorway and main window, sided by two small octangular towers with pinnacles. The history of this church, if we were at liberty to give it, is well worth relating. The North Leith Free Church in Ferry Road, too, is a characteristic building. Not that we are quite pleased with it in many ways, for it has always appeared to us rather dumpy and out of proportion,-the faGade being far too heavy and massive for the rest of the edifice. Still, if viewed quite in front, with its fine Gothic entrance, noble window of exquisite tracery and stained glass, and tall stately tower and spire, i! produces a good effect. The North Leith Parish Church, however, is confessedly the most imposing structure of the kind in this quarter. Not that it has much to boast of in the way of ornateness or elaboration ; it is rather a plain building, of an oblong form, and distinguished for no particular style of architecture j but its
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