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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] THE ROYAL MINT. 267 Fortune?s tavern, removed from Skinner?s Close to a house at the north-west corner of Nicolson Square, and latterly at No. 2, St. Andrew Square (now the London Hotel), where he died, in his eightieth year, in ISOZ. In his lordship?s time the office of Commissioner to the Church, which he held from 1783 to 1801, was attended with more ?pomp and circumstance? Treasurer, under date February, 1562-3 :- ? Item, allowit to the carpenter, be payment maid to Johne Achesoun, Maister Congreave, to Maister William M?Dowgale, Maister of Werk, for expensis maide be him vpon the bigging of the Cwnge-house, within the castell of Edinburgh, and beting of the qvnge-hous within the Palice of Halierud-house, fra the xi. day of Februar, 1559, zens, to the Comniissioner proceeded on foot, escorted by his guard of honour. South Gray?s, or the Mint Close, was one of the stateliest alleys in the old city, and herein stood the Cunzie flous, as the Scottish Mint was named (after its removal from near Holyrood in Queen Mary?s time) till the Union in 1707, and until lately its sombre and massive tower of finely polished ashlar projecting into the narrow thoroughfare of Cowgate, for three hundred and four years formed one of the leading features of the latter, and to the last the old edifice retained many traces of the important operations that once went on within its walls. The first Mint House had been originally erected in the outer court of the palace of Holyrood, somewhere near the Horse Wynd, fromwhence, for greater safety, it was removed to the castle, in which a new Mint House had been built in 1559, as shown by edifices of the period,? says Wilson, describing the edifice prior to its removal. ?The whole building was probably intended, when completed, to form a quadrangle, surrounded on every side by the same substantial walls, well suited for defence against any ordinary assault, while its halls were lighted from the enclosed court. The small windows in this part of the building remain in their original state, being divided by an oaken transom, and the under part closed by a pair of folding shutters. The massive ashlar walls are relieved by ornamental stringcourses, and surmounted by crowsteps of the earliest form and elegant proportions. . . . . The internal marks of former magnificence are more interesting than their external ones, notwithstanding the humble uses to which the buildings have latterly been applied ; in particular some portions of a very fine oak ceiling still remain, wrought in Gothic panelling,
Volume 2 Page 267
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