Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


252 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Streer Bart. ; Miss Lucy Johnston of East Lothian, who married hlr. Oswald of Auchincruive ; Miss Halket of Pitfirran, who became the wife of the celebrated Count Lally-Tollendal ; and Jane, Duchess of Gordon, celebrated for her wit and spirit as well as her beauty. These, with Miss wynd into a street, there was swept away Dalgleish?s Close, which is referred to in the ?Diurnal of Occurrents? in 1572, and which occupied the site of the present east side of Niddry Street. From whom this old thoroughfare took its name we know not; but it is an old one in ST. CECILIA?S HALL. Burnet and Miss Home, and many others whose names I do not distinctly recollect, were indisputably worthy of all the honours conferred upon them.? These and other Edinburgh belles of the past all shed the light of their beauty on the old hall in Niddry?s Wynd, now devoted to scholastic uses. We first hear of a ? Teacher of EzzgZish ? in I 750, when a Mr. Philp opened an educational estajlishment in the wynd in that year. In widening the Lothian, and, with various adjuncts, designates several places near the city. In the charters of David 11. Henry Niddry is mentioned in connection with Niddry-Marshal, and Walter, son of Augustine, burgess of Edynbourgh, has the lands of Niddry in that county, qunm yohantles de Bennnchtyne de k Con-okys res&navit, 19th Sept. an. reg. 33; and under Robert 111. John Niddry held lands in Cramond and also Pentland Muu.
Volume 2 Page 252
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
High Street.] HOUSE OF THE ABBOTS OF MELROSE. 253 CHAPTER XXX. THE HIGH STREET (caitfirzued). Dickson?s and Cant?s Closes-The House of the ? Scottish Hogarth ? and the Knight of Tillybole-Rosehaugh?s, or Strichen?s, Close-House 01 the Abbots of Melrose-Sir Georye Yaclteuzie of Rosehaugh-Lady h n e Dick-Lord Strichen-The hlanncls of 1730-Pmvost Grieve- John Dhu, Corporal of the City Guard-Lady Lovat?s Land-Walter Chnpman, Printer-Lady Lovat. DICKSON?S CLOSE, numbered as 118, below the modern Niddry Street, gave access to a handsome and substantial edifice, supposed to be the work of that excellent artificer Robert Mylne, who built the modern portion of Holyrood and s3 rnacy houses of an improved character in the city about the time of the Revolution. Its earlier occupants are unknown, but herein dwelt David Allan, known as the ? Scottish Hogarth,? a historical painter of undoubted genius, who, on the death of hlexander Runciman, in 1786, was appointed director and master of the academy established by the board of trustees for manufacturers in Scotland. While resident in Dickson?s Close he published, in 1788, an edition of the ?Gentle Shepherd,? with characteristic etchings, and, some time after, a collection of the most humorous old Scottish songs with similar drawings ; these, with his illustrations of ? The Cottar?s Saturday Night ? and the satire, humour, and spirit of his other etchings in aquatinta, won him a high reputation as a successful delineator of character and nature. His drawing classes met in the old college, but he received private pupils at his house in Dickson?s Close after his marriage, on the 15th November, 1788. His terms were, as advertised in the Nucz~ry, one guinea per month for three lessons in the week, which in those simple days would restrict his pupils to the wealthy and fashionable class of sqciety. He died at Edinburgh on the 6th of August, 1796. Lower down the close, on the same side, a quaint old tenement, doomed to destruction by the Improvements Act, 1867, showed on the coved bedcorbel of its crowstepped gable the arms of Haliburton, impaled with another coat armorial, with the peculiar feature of a double window corbelled out ; and in a deed extant, dated 1582, its first proprietor is named Master James Haliburton. Afterwards it was the residence of Sir John Haliday, of Tillybole, and formed a part of Cant?s Close. Its appearance in 1868 has been preserved to us by R. Chambers, in a brief description in his ?? Traditions . ? According to this authority: it was two storeys in height, the second storey being reached by an outside stair, within a small courtyard, which had originally been shut by a gate. The stone pillars of the gateway were decorated with balls at the top, after the fashion of entrances to the grounds of a country mansion. It was a picturesque building in the style of the sixteenth century in Scotland. As it resembled a neat oldfashioned country house, it was odd to find it jammed up amid the tall edifices of this confined alley. Ascending the stair, the interior consisted of three or four apartments, with elaborately-carved stucco ceilings. The principal room had a double window on the west to Dickson?s Close. In 1735 this mansion was the abode of Robert Geddes, Gird of Scotstoun in Peeblesshire, who sold it to George Wight, a burgess of Edinburgh, after which it became deteriorated, and its stuccoed apartments, froin the attics to the ground floor, became each the dwelling of a separate family, and a scene of squalor and wretchedness. A considerable portion of the edifices in Cant?s Close mere once ecclesiastical, and belonged to the prebendaries of the collegiate church, founded at Ciichton in 1449, by Sir William Crichton of that ilk, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. In Kosehaugh?s Close, now called Strichen?s, the next alley on the east, was the town-house of the princely mitred abbots of Melrose. In Catholic times the great dignitaries of the church had all their houses in Edinburgh ; the Archbishop of St. dndrews resided at the foot of Blackfriars Wynd ; the Bishop of Dunkeld in the Cowgate ; the Abbot of Dunfermline at the Netherbow ; the Abbot of Cambuskenneth in the Lawnmarket ; and the Abbot of Melrose in the close we have named, and his ?ludging? had a garden which extend?ed down to the Cowgate, and up the opposite slope on the west side of the Pleasance, within the city wall. The house of the abbot, a large and massive building enclosing a small square or court in the centre of it, was entered from Strichen?s Close. ?? The whole building has evidently undergone great alterations,?? says the description of it written in 1847; ?a carved stone bears a large and very boldlycut shield, with two coats of arms impaled, and the date 1600. There seems no reason to doubt, however, that the main portion of the abbot?s residence still remains. The lower storey is strongly vaulted, and is evidently the work of an early date. The smalrquadrangle also is quite in character with the period assumed for the building; and at its north-west angle is Cant?s Close,
Volume 2 Page 253
  Enlarge Enlarge