Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


290 OLD -4ND NEW EDINBURGH. urffrey Street of The Friend of India, and author of the ?Life of Dr. IVilson of Bombay.? The paper has ever been an advanced Liberal one in politics, and considerably ahead of the old Whig school. Jeffrey Street, so named from the famous literary critic, is one of those thoroughfares formed under the City Improvement -4ct of 1867. It commences at the head of Leith Wynd, and?occasioned there the demolition of many buildings of remote antiquity. From thence it curves north-westward, behind the Ashley Buildings, and is carried on a viaduct of ten massive arches. Proceeding westward through Milne?s Court, and cutting off the lower end of many quaint, ancient, narrow, and it must be admitted latterly somewhat inodorous alleys, it goes into line with an old edificed thoroughfare at the back of the Flesh Market, under the southern arch of the open part of the North Bridge, and is built chiefly in the old Scottish domestic style of architecture, so suited to its peculiar locality. In this street stands the Trinity College Established Church, re-erected from the stones of the original church, to which we shall refer elsewhere. When the North British Railway Company required its site, it was felt by all interested in archzology and art that the destruction of an edifice so important and unique would be a serious loss to the city, and, inspired by this sentiment, the most strenuous efforts were made by the Lord Provost, Adam Black, and others, to make some kind of restoration of th; church of Mary of Gueldres a condition of the company obtaining possession ; and their efforts were believed to have been successful when a clause was inserted in the Company?s Act binding them, before acquiring Trinity College church, to erect another, after the same style and model, on a site to be approved by the sheriff, in or near the parish and about a dozen of these were suggested, among others the rocky knoll adjoining the Calton stairs. The company finding the delay imposed by this clause extremely prejudicial to their interests, sought to have it amended, and succeeded in having ?the obligation to erect such a church raised from them, on the payment of such a sum as should be found on inquiry, under the authority of the sheriff, to be sufficient for the site and restoration. About E18,ooo was accordingly paid to the Town Council in 1848; the church was removed, and its stones carefully numbered, and set aside.? Questions of site, of the sitters, and the sum to be actually expended, were long discussed by the Council and in the press-some members of the former, with a sentiment of injustice,.wishing to abolish the congregation altogether, and give the money to the city. After much litigation, extending ultimately over a period of nearly thirty years, the Court of Session in full bench decided that all the money and the interest accruing therefrom should be expended on +e church. This judgment. was reversed, on appeal, by Lord Chancellor Westbury, who decided that only ;G7,000 ?without interest should be given to buy a site and build a church contiguous to Trinity Hospital, in which the rest of the money should vest.? The Town Council of those days seemed ever intent on crushing this individual parish church, and, as one of the congregation wrote in an address in January, 1873, ?to these it seemed as strange as sad, that while all over this island, corporations and individuals were spending very large sums in the restoration or preservation of the best specimens of the art and devotion of their forefathers, a city so beholden as Edinburgh to the beautiful and picturesque in situation and buildings, should not only permit the disappearance of an edifice of which almost any other city would have been proud, but when the means and the obligation to preserve it had been secured, with much labour by others, should, with almost as much pains, seek to render nugatory alike the efforts of these and the certain pious regrets of posterity.? In 1871 the churchless parish, in respect of population, held the fourth place in old Edinburgh (2,882) exceeding the Tolbooth, Tron, and other congregations. The church, rebuilt from the stones of the ancient edifice of 1462, stands on the south side of Jeffrey Street, at the corner of Chalmers? Close. It was erected in 1871-2, from drawings prepared by Mr. Lessels, architect, and is an oblong structure, with details in the Norman Gothic style, with a tower and spire 115 feet in height. It is almost entirely constructed from the ?? carefully numbered stones ? of the ancient church, nearly every pillar, niche, capital, and arch, being in its old place, and, taken in this sense, the edifice is a very unique one. Opened for divine service in October, 1877, it is seated for 900, and has the ancient baptismal font that stood in the vestry of the church of Mary of Gueldres placed in the lobby. The old apse has been restored in toto, and forms the most interesting portion of the new building. The ancient baptismal and communion plate of the church are very valuable, and the latter is depicted in Sir George Harvey?s well-kncwn picture of the ? Covenanter?s Baptism,? and, like the communion-table, date from shortly after the Reformation, and have been the gifts of various pious individuals.
Volume 2 Page 290
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