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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Charlotte Square.] THE ALBERT MEMORIAL. I75 His neighbour and brother senator Lord Dundrennan occupied No. 35 ; and in 1811 William Robertson, Lord Robertson, a senator of 1805, occupied No. 42. He was the eldest son of Dr. Robertson the historian, and in 1779 was chosen Procurator of the Church of Scotland, after ,a close contest, in which he was opposed by the Hon. Henry Erskine. His personal appearance is described in ? Peter?s Letters to his Kinsfolk.? He retired from the bench in 1826, in consequence of deafness, and died in November, 1835. On the western side of the Square, and terminating with fine effect the long vista of George Street from the east, is St. George?s Church, the foundation of which was laid on the 14th of May, 1811. It was built from a design furnished by Robert Reid, king?s architect The celebrated Adam likewise furnished a plan for this church, which was relinquished in consequence of the expense it would have involved. The whole building, with the exception of the dome, which is a noble one, and seen to advantage from any point, is heavy in appearance, meagre in detail, and hideous in conception, and its ultimate expense greatly exceeded the estimates and the sum for which the more elegant design of Adam could have been carried out. It cost A33,ooo, is calculated to accommodate only 1,600 persons, and was opened for public worship in 1814. It was intended in its upper part to be a large miniature or reduced copy of St. Paul?s in London, and is in a kind of Grzco-Italian style, with a lofty but meagre Ionic portico and surmounting an Attic Corinthian colonnade ; it rests on a square ground plan measuring IIZ feet each way, and culminates in the dome, surmounted by a lantern, cupola, and cross, the last at the height of 160 feet from the ground. The original design included two minarets, which have not as yet been added. It is chiefly celebrated as the scene of the ministrations of Andrew Thomson, D.D., an eminent divine who was fixed upon as its pastor in 1814. He died suddenly on the 9th of February, 1831, greatly beloved and lamented by the citizens in general and his congregation in particular, and now he lies in a piece of ground connected with the churchyard of St. Cuthbert. In Charlotte Place, behind the church, are the atelier of Sir John Steel the eminent sculptor, and a music-room called St. Cecilia?s Hall, with an orchestra space for 250 performers and seats for 500 hearers. In the centre of the Square is the memorial to the Prince Consort, which was inaugurated with much state by the Queen in person, attended by the magistrates and archer guard, &c., in August, 1876. It cost A16,500, and is mainly from the studio of Steel It is a quasi-pyramidal structure, about thirty-two feet high, with a colossal equestrian statue of the Prince as its central and upper figure ; it is erected on an oblong Peterhead granite pedestal, fully seventeen feet high, and exhibiting emblematic bas-reliefs in the panels, with four groups of statues on square blocks, projecting from the corners of the basement; the prince is shown in the uniform of a field marshal. Of all the many statues that have been erected to his memory, this in Charlotte Square is perhaps one of the best and most pleasing. With this chapter we close the history of what may be regarded as thejt-st New Town, which was designed in 1767, laid out, as we have seen, in a parallelogram the sides of which measure 3,900 feet by 1,090. The year 1755 was the period when Edinburgh seemed really to wake from the sleep and torpor that followed the Union, and a few imprdvements began in the Old Town. After that period, says Kincaid, writing in 1794, ? it is moderate to say that not less than ~3,000,000 sterling has been expended in building and public improvements.? Thirty-five years ago,? says the Edinburgh Adverther for 1823, ? there were scarcely a dozen sliops in the New Town; now, in Princes Street, with the exception of hotels and the Albyn Club Room, they reach to Hanover Street.? In the present day the whole .area we have described is mainly occupied by shops, with the exception of Charlotte Square and a small portion of Queen Street.
Volume 3 Page 175
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