KING’S STABLES, CASTLE BARNS, AND CASTLE HILL. ‘39 of carved wood work, exhibiting traces of gilding. An explosion of gunpowder, which took place in the lower part of the house in 1811, attended with loss of life, entirely destroyed the ancient fireplace, which was of a remarkably beautiful Gothic design. Notwithstanding the comparatively modern decorations, the house s till retains unequivocal remains of a much earlier period. The sculptured doorway in Blair’s Close, already alluded to, forming the original main entrance to the whole building, is specially worthy of notice, and would of itself justify us in assigning its erection to the earlier part of the sixteenth century. It very nearly corresponds with one still remaining on the west side of Blackfriar’s Wynd, the entrance to the turnpike stair of an ancient mansion, which appears, from the title-deeds of a neighbouring property, to have been the residence of the Earl of Morton. In the latter example, the heraldic supporters, though equally rudely sculptured, present somewhat more distinctly the same features as in the other, and both are clearly intended for unicorns.’ The south front of the building is finished with a parapet, adorned with gurgoils in the shape of cannons, and on the first floor * (in Blair’s Close) there is still remainins an ancient fireplace of huge old-fashioned dimensions. The jambs are neatly carved Gothic pillars, simiiar in design to several that formerly existed in the Guise Palace, Blyth’s Close ; and the whole is now enclosed, and forms a roomy coal-cellar, after having been used as a bedcloset by the previous tenant in these degenerate days. As late as 1783, this part of the old mansion was the residence of John Grieve, Esq., then Lord Provost of Edinburgh. This house has apparently been one of special note in early times from its substantial magnificence. It is described in one of the deeds as ;; that tenement or dwelling-house called the Solate House of old, of the deceased Patrick Edgar,” a definiiion repeated in several others, evidently to distinguish it from its humble thatched nei&%ours, ‘; lying on the south iide of the High Street of Edinburgh, near the Castle wal1,between the lands of the deceased Mr A. Syme, advocate, on the east, the close of the said Patrick Edgar on the west,” &c. It is alluded to in the Diurnal of Occurrents, 7th September 1570, where the escape of Robert Hepburn, younger of Wauchtoun, from the Earl of Morton’s adherents, is described It is added-‘; He came to the Castell of Edinburgh, quhairin he was ressauit with great difficultie ; for when he was passand in at the said Castell zett, his adversaries were at Patrik Edgar his hous end.” This mansion was latterly possessed, as we have seen, by the Newbyth family, by whom it was held for several generations ; and here it was that the gallant Sir David Baird was born and brought up.‘ It is said also to hare been F 1 The adoption of the royal supportera may possibly have been an assumption of the Regent’s, in virtue of his exercise of the functions of royalty. In which case, the building on the Castle Hill might be presumed alm to be his, and deserted by him from ita dangerous proximity to the Castle, when held by his rivals. This, however, is mere conjecture. A note in the Diurnal of Occurrents, 20th Nov. 1572, states-“ In this menetyme, James Earle of Mortouo, regent, lay deidlie seik j his Grace waa lugeit in Williame Craikia lugeing on the sout\ syid of the trone, in Edinburgh.” a To prevent misconception in the description of buildings, we may state that, throughout the Work, the floors of buildings are to be understood thus :-Sunk, or area floor, ground floor, 6rat floor, second floor, bcc., reckoning from below. ’ Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 186. ’ On Sir David Baird’s return from the Spanish Campaign, he visited his birth-place, and examined with great interest the acenes where he had passed his boyhoodi Chambem haa furnished a lively account of this in hm Traditions, vol. i. p. 155.
140 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. afterwards possessed by the ancient family of the Nisbets of Dirleton, and by Gordon of Braid ; but, if so, it must have been as tenants, as it was sold by Mr Baird to A. Brown, Esq., of Greenbank, from whom it passed successively to his sons, Colonel George Brown, and Captain James Brown, commander of the ship Alfred, in the East India Company’s service. From these later owners, Brown’s Close, where the modern entrance to the house is situated, derives its name. The name of Webster’s Close, on the same side of the street, by which Brown’s Court was formerly known, served to indicate the site of Dr Webster’s house, the originator of the Widows’ Scheme, and long one of the ministers of the old Tolbooth Kirk. He was a person of great influence and popularity in his day, and entertained Dr Johnson often at his table during his visit to Edinburgh. At a later period it was occupied by the Rev. Dr Greenfield, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the University, after whose time it passed through various hands, and closed its career as a cholera hospital, previous to its demolition in 1837, to make way for the Castle Road. Dr Webster built another house immediately adjoining this, from stones taken out of the North Loch. It was first occupied by Mr Hogg as a banking house, and afterwards, for twenty years, by the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, during the whole of which period, Alexander Smellie, Esq., the Emeritus Secretary, resided in the house. A very handsome old land of considerable breadth stands to the east of this. It presents a polished ashler front to the street, ornamented with string courses, and surmounted by an elegant range of dormer windows, with finials of various design. Over the main entrance, in Boswell’s Court, there is a shield bearing a fancy device, with the initials T. L., and the inscription, 0 * LORD a IN THE IS AL MI * TRAIST. In a compartment on the left of the shield, there are also the initials, I. L., R. W. ; a similar compartment on the right is now defaced.’ Immediately to the west of the Assembly Hall, a tall narrow land forms the last remaining building on the south side of the Castle Hill. In the style of its architecture it differs entirely from any of the neighbouring houses, presenting a pediment in front, surmounted with urns, and otherwise adorned according to the fashion that prevaqed during the earlier part of the last century. This house, as appears from the title-deeds, was built by Robert Mowbray, Esq., of Castlewan, in 1740, on the site of an ancient mansion belonging to the Countess Dowager of Hyndford. The keystone of the centre window in the second floor is orpamented with a curiously inwrought cipher of the initials of Robert Mowbray, its builder; from whose possession it passed into that of William, the fourth Earl of Dumfries, who succeeded his mother, Penelope, Countess of Dumfries in her own right, and afterwards, by the death of his 1 The close, we believe, derives ita name from a Dr Boawell, who reaided there about eighty years since. We were Znformed, hdwever, by the good lady who very politely conducted us over the house, that it was the Earl of Bothwell’s mansion, ‘‘ An’ nae doubt,” said she, aa she showed ua into the best room, with its fireplace lined with Dutch tiles, ‘‘ nae doubt mony queer doings hae taen place here between the add Earl and Queen Mary 1 ” Nothing is 80 amusing, in investigating our local antiquities, iw the constant association of Queen Mary’s name with everything that is old, however homely or even ridiculous.