Friday, June 27, 2014

British Isles Friday

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Joy's Book Blog is hosting this weekly meme.

May 2010 - Edinburgh Scotland

The Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland, consisted originally of the main street, now known as the Royal Mile, and the small alleyways and courtyards that led off it to the north and south. These were usually named after a memorable occupant of one of the apartments reached by the common entrance, or a trade plied by one or more residents. Generically they are termed closes, a Scots term for alleyways, although they may be individually named closes, entries, courts and wynds. A close was private property, hence gated and closed to the public, whereas a wynd was an open throughway, usually wide enough for a horse and cart. Most slope steeply down from the Royal Mile creating the impression of a herring-bone pattern formed by the main street and side streets when viewed on a map. Many have steps and long flights of stairs.

Because of the need for security within its town walls against English attacks in past wars, Edinburgh experienced a pronounced density in housing. Closes tend to be narrow with tall buildings on both sides, giving them a canyon-like appearance and atmosphere.

BRODIE'S CLOSE - Named after the family home of Deacon Brodie

FLESHMARKET CLOSE - Named after the meat market which was situated here which led to a slaughterhouse at the side of the Nor' Loch.

OLD FISHMARKET CLOSE - Once 'a steep, narrow stinking ravine' from the commercial heyday of this poultry and fishmarket.
Home also to the City Hangman or 'Doomster', the last being a John High who died in 1817.


Once housed the Government Stamp Office until 1821. The Royal Bank was also located here from 1727 to 1753.

WRITERS' COURT - Once the site of a great manse occupied by John Knox from 1560 to 1566, this court was built at the end of the seventeenth century by Robert Milne and Patrick Steel.

The current name was adopted after the court became home to a library for the writers to HM Signet, and the literary connection was later reinforced by the presence of the publishers W. & R. Chamber.

WORLD'S END CLOSE - So called because this literally was the end for most of the poorer townspeople who couldn't afford the entrance fee back into the city and stayed within the confines of the City Walls.

WARDROPS CLOSE - John Wardrop, mason, wright and burgess of the City built a tenement here in 1790. Before, it was occupied by the Incorporation of Baxters (bakers) and was known then as Middle Baxter's Close.

The entrance, with its remarkable carved dragon brackets, leads inside and contains an access to Lady Stair's Close.


  1. Nice one - lovely photos and detail. It's a remarkable city, with so much to see. Did you make it up Calton Hill, featured on A Bit About Britain recently?

    1. Yes, we did, Mike. In fact that was my other option to post today. Will post next week.

  2. I like those a lot, particularly World's End.

  3. What an interesting way to organize a city. Love those narrow streets!

    And now I'll look forward to whatever Calton Hill is!


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