THE city and royal burgh of St. Andrews stands upon a rocky height, rising about fifty feet above the level of the bay of the German ocean to which it gives name. In whatever way it is approached, whether from the sea or by land, St. Andrews, with its lofty though ruined towers, presents an imposing appearance. The city is about a mile in circumference, and contains three principal streets, – South-street, Market-street, and North-street, – which diverge from the Cathedral in a westerly direction, like spokes from the centre of a wheel, and are intersected at right angles, in various places, by a number of lanes or streets of smaller dimensions. The three principal streets, – especially South-street, which is the broadest, and best built, – have a noble though antiquated appearance, and are each ornamented by public buildings. In South-street are St. Mary’s college, the Madras college, and the Town-church; in Market-street, the Town-hall; and in North-street, the United college, with the chapel of St. Salvator, the Episcopal chapel, and the Secession chapel. At the west end of Market-street, between it and North-street, a fine street has been recently opened up, named after Dr. Bell, the founder of the Madras college; and at the west end of North-street, on a portion of the links, a row of elegant houses has been erected. West of the termination of South-street is a large suburb called Argyle. The principal streets are well-paved, cleanly kept, and, during winter, lighted with gas.
Enjoying pure air, and a comparatively mild and equal climate, with easy access to the sea, and secure and sheltered bathing-places, St. Andrews has deservedly become a place of great resort for persons requiring sea-bathing; and from the necessary literary nature of its society, the excellent opportunities for superior education which it affords, the attraction of its links to golfers, and the cheapness of its markets, it may be pointed out as a desirable place of residence to persons of retired habits and moderate fortune. But desirable as it may be on all these grounds, as a place of residence, or of occasional resort, it has other, and, to the intelligent tourist, highly pleasing attractions. To the artist, its numerous ruins and ancient buildings afford picturesque objects for his pencil; to the antiquary, of research and investigation; and all Scotsmen who love their country, or are read in its annals, must feel they are on hallowed ground, every spot of which calls up some reverend history, some inspiring recollection, when they visit St. Andrews.
The burgh owes its origin to a college of Culdees early founded here. In the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries, the city attained its highest point of wealth and commercial importance. During this period a yearly fair or great market – called the Senzie market, commencing in the second week of Easter, and continuing for fifteen days – was held within the quadrangle of the Priory, to which resorted merchants from most of the trading kingdoms of Europe, and, on some occasions, from 200 to 300 vessels have entered the harbour. The destruction of the religious houses, and the general want of security to property arising from civil commotion, reduced St. Andrews from its high estate. In 1655, the provost and magistrates petitioned General Monk for an abatement of part of the monthly assessment laid upon the town, which they stated it was unable to pay “by reason of the total decay of shipping and sea-trade, and the removal of the most eminent inhabitants thereof to live in the country.” And in 1697, when it was proposed to remove the university to Perth, among various reasons given for the removal, are the following: that “victuals are dearer here than any where else, viz., fleshes, drinks of all sorts; that this place is ill-provided of all commodities and trades, which obliges us to send to Edinburgh and provide ourselves with shoes, clothes, hats, &c., and what are here are double rate; and that this place being now only a village where most part farmers dwell, the whole streets are filled with dunghills, which are exceedingly noxious and ready to infect the air.” Nearly eighty years afterwards, Dr. Johnson visited St. Andrews, and found – to use his own language – “one of its streets now lost; and in those that remain, the silence and solitude of inactive indigence and gloomy depopulation.” About the commencement of the present century, however, the energy of a few individuals led to the gradual improvement of St. Andrews; and its various educational and other advantages, bringing persons of some property to reside in it, has tended to keep this spirit alive; but Commerce, once banished, has never again revisited its harbour, or shed the influence of its wealth upon its streets.
The general view of the city given in our engraving, is taken from the south-east, rom a point whence one of the best general views is to be obtained. On the right side of the middle distance is the harbour. Farther to the left are seen the ancient tower and chapel of St. Regulus, the eastern gable of the ruined Cathedral, and a portion of the ruins of the Castle; and still farther to the left are the ruins of the western gable and part of the south wall of the Cathedral. Near the centre of the picture is the tower and spire of St. Salvator’s chapel, now the College-church; and on the extreme left is the tower and spire of the Town-church, near which, marked by a small belfry, is seen the roof of the Town-house. Stretching from the eastern part of the ruins of the Cathedral, to near the left hand side of the picture, and enclosing a considerable piece of ground, is the old wall, with its numerous towers, which surrounded the precinct of the Monastery. In the distance are the estuary of the Eden, and part of the country of Fife; and in the extreme distance, the summits of the Sidlaw-hills in Forfarshire.