Twelve closes chosen for Edinburgh World Heritage makeover
February 29 201612 Old Town closes which are to be given a makeover as part of a programme of infrastructure and environmental improvements.
Thoroughfares in line for an upgrade include Bakehouse Close, home of Architecture & Design Scotland, Riddle’s Close which once hosted philosopher David Hume and Fleshmarket Close which is well known amongst fans of author Ian Rankine as a setting for the Inspector Rebus novels.
Each location will benefit from new lighting, artwork and interpretation boards to highlight each lane’s particular contribution to the fabric of the city.
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “Our aim is for this project to re-connect the people of Edinburgh with the closes of the Old Town. The intricate network of closes and courtyards that bind the Old Town together gives it a unique identity, is underused but has the opportunity to be revitalised, used and celebrated by all.”
The project is being delivered as part of the Royal Mile Action Plan designed to encourage visitors to venture off the well beaten path of the main drag.
Stevenlaw’s: In Georgian Edinburgh this close was home to a series of successful cookery schools, starting with Mrs McIver in the 1770s and followed by Mrs Fraser. Each brought out a best-selling book, with Mrs McIver’s offering the first printed recipe for haggis.
Riddle’s: In 1751 the philosopher David Hume moved into a house here, proudly telling a friend he was now head of a household with, “…two inferior members – a maid and a cat.”
Carruber’s: Home to Old St Paul’s church, whose congregation first met here in 1689 in an old wool store. A plaque commemorates the house of Archbishop John Spottiswoode, a prominent cleric during the early seventeenth century.
Trunk’s: Probably named after John Turing, a burgess of the city, who had a property in the close in 1478. Now home to the Cockburn Association and the Scottish Book Trust.
Fleshmarket: The location of the city’s meat market for around 200 years, it provides the title and much of the setting for one of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels.
Chessel’s: A close recreated in the 1950s, leading to the Georgian mansion-flats of Chessel’s Court, scene of the last robbery by Deacon Brodie.
Bakehouse: Probably the best preserved close in the Old Town, with an important collection of sixteenth and seventeenth century buildings including Acheson House built in 1633.
Crichton’s: Home to the Scottish Poetry Library, a unique national resource devoted to the nations poetry.
Fountain: Takes its name from the old street well that used to stand outside its entrance. It leads to the offices of the Saltire Society, the organisation devoted to promoting the arts and culture of Scotland.
Lady Stair’s: Leads to the seventeenth century Lady Stair’s House, now the Writers’ Museum with displays illustrating the works of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
North Gray’s: Has a rare surviving row of backland tenements dating back to 1581, linked to the prominent seventeenth century clergyman Bishop Sydserf.
Old Playhouse: The site of Edinburgh’s first successful theatre, built in 1747. The close is now being opened up as part of the development of the University of Edinburgh.
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