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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


342 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Such are a few of the great names associated with the ancient thoroughfare which we have seen so recklessly destroyed, and which, until its sudden doom was pronounced, seemed like a hale and vigorous octogenarian, that had defied the tooth of time while all around was being transmuted by his touch. On the lowest part of the declivity of the Bow, a handsome, though somewhat heavy conduit, erected by Robert Mane in 1681, bears the name of the Bow-foot Well. Directly facing this, at the south-west angle of the Grassmarket, there stood of old the Monastery of the Franciscans or Greyfriars, founded by James I., for the encouragement of learning. In obedience to an application from that monarch, the Vicar-General of the Order at Cologne sent over to Scotland some of the brethren, under the guidance of Cornelius of Zurich, a scholar of great reputation ; but such was the magnzcence of the monastic buildings prepared for them that it required the persuasive influence of the Archbishop of St Andrew’s to induce Cornelius to accept the office of Prior. That the monastery was a sumptuous foundation, according to the times, is proved by its being assigned for the temporary abode of the Princess, Mary of Guelders, who immediately after her arrival at Leith, in June 1449, proceeded on horseback, behind the Count de Vere, to her lodging in the Convent of the Greyfriars in Edinburgh, and there she was visited by her royal lover, James II., on the following day.’ A few years later it afforded an asylum to Henry VI. of England, when he fled to Scotland, accompanied by his heroic Queen, Margaret, and their son, Prince Edward, after the fatal battle of Towton. That a church would form a prominent feature of this royal foundation can hardly be doubted, and we are inclined to infer that the existence both of it, and of a churchyard attached to it, long before Queen Mary’s grant of the gardens of the monastery for the latter purpose, is implied in such allusions as the following in the Diurnal of Occurrents, July 7, 1571. (‘ The hail1 merchandis, craftismen, and personis remanand within Edinburgh, maid thair moustaris in the Gray Frear Kirk yaird; ” and, again, where Birrel in his Diary, April 26, 1598, refers to the (( work at the Gray Friar Kirke,” although the date of erection of the more modern church is only 1613. The exact site of these monastic buildings is proved from the titles of the two large stone tenements which present their picturesque and antique gables to the street, immediately to the west of the entrance from the Cowgate. The western tenement is described as (( lying within the burgh of Edinburgh, at the place called the Grayfreres,” while the other is styled that Temple tenement of land, lying at the head of the Cowgate, near the Cunzie nook, beside the Minor, or Greyfriars, on the east, and the common King’s High Street, on the north parts.” Beyond this, in the Candlemaker Row, a curious little timber-fronted tenement appears, with its gable surmounted with the antique crow-steps we have described on the Mint buildings and elsewhere ; an open gallery projects in front, and rude little shot windows admit the light to the decayed and gloomy chambers within. This, we presume, to be the Cunzie nook referred to above, a place where the Mint had no doubt been established at 6ome early period, possibly during some of the strange proceedings in the Regency of Mary of Guize,’ 1 Caledonia, voL i p. 599. “ Vpoun the 21 day of Julij [1559], Jamea, commendatare of Sanctandrois, and Alexander, erle of Glencarne, with thair assistaria callit the congregatioun, past from Edinburgh to Halyrudhous, and thair tu& and iotromettit with the irois of the cuneehous, and brocht the same to the said burgh of Edinburgh, to the priour of Sanctandrois lugeing,
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THE WEST BOW AND SUBURBS. 343 when the Lords of the Congregation I‘ past to Halyrudhous, and tuik and intromettit with the irnis of the c~nzehous.~. ~ The general aspect of the Grassmarket appears to have suffered little change for above two hundred years. One of the most modern erections on its southern side is that immediately to the west of the Templar Lands we have just described, which bears on a tablet over the entrance to Hunter’s Close, ANNO. DOM . MDCLXXI . It is not likely to be soon lost sight of, that from a dyer’s pole in front of this old tenement Captain . Porteous was hung by his Lynch-law judges A.D. 1736. . The long range of buildings that extend beyond this, present as singular and varied a group of antique tenements as either artist or antiquary could desire. Finials of curious and grotesque shapes surmount the crow-stepped gables, and every variety of form and elevation diversifies the sky line of their roofs and chimneys; while behind, the noble pile of Heriot’s Hospital towers above them a8 a counterpart to the old Castle that rises majestically over the north side of the same area’ Many antique features are yet discernibIe here. Several of the older houses are built with bartizaned roofs and ornamental copings, designed to afford their inmates an.uninterrupted view of the magnificent pageants that were wont of old to defile through the wide area below, or of the gloomy tragedies that were so frequently enacted there between the Restoration and the Revolution. One of thesej which stands immediately to the west of Heriot’s Bridge, exhibits a very perfect specimen of the antique style of window already frequently referred to. The folding shutters and transom of oak remain entire below, and the glass in the upper part is Bet in an ornamental pattern of lead. Still finer, though less perfect, specimens of the same early fashion, remain in a tenement on the north side, bearing the date 1634. It forms the front building at the entrance to Plainstane’s Close-a distinctive title, implying its former respectability as a paved alley. A handsome projecting turnpike stair bears being thairin.”-Diurn. of OCC. p. 269. Humble as this nook appears, it is possible that it may be a fragment of the Regent Murray’s lodging. 1 The careful and elaborate history of Heriot’s Hospital, by Dr Steven, renders further investigation of its memorials unnecesaary. Tradition assigns to Inigo Jones the merit of having furnished the beautiful design for the Hospital, which is well worthy of his genius. If so, however, it has been carried‘out in a modified form, under the direction of more modern architects. “May 3 t T h e r e is a necessity that the steeple of the Hospital be finished, and a top put thereupon. Ro. Miln, Master Mason, to think on e drawing thereof, against the next council meeting.” The master mason doea not appear to have thought to good purpose, as we find recorded the following year :-“July 10.-Deacon Sandilans to put a roof and top to the Hoepital’s ateeple, according to the draught condescended upon be Sir William Bruce.” In one of Captain Slezer’s very accurate general view8 of Edinburgh, published towarda the close of the 17th century, Heriot’s Hospital is introduced 88 it then appeared, with the plain square tower over the gateway, and near to it the Old Oreyfriars’ Church, with the tower at the west end, aw it stood previous to 1718, when the latter waa accidentally blown up by gunpowder, which had been deposited there for aafety. A view of the Hospital, by Glordon of Rothiemay, which was engraved in Holland before 1650, is believed to aford an accurate representation of the original deeign. The aame is engraved in the fourth edition of Sleser’s views, under the name of Bogengkht. In thia view, the tower is surmounted by a lofty and beautiful apire, carrying out the idea of contrast in form and elevation which appears in the reat of the dedign, much more effectively than the dome which has been substituted for it. The large towers at the angles of the building appear in this view covered with ogee roofs, in mora questionable tsste. Several entries in the Hospital %cords seem to imply that two of the four towers had been completed according to this idea, and afterwards altered. The Recorda afford evidence of frequent deviations from the original design being sanctioned, even rfter auch parta of the building were 6niahed according to the plan. The following entry occurs in the Hospital Recorda for 1675.
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