[Old & New Edinburgh Contents]
The Candlemaker Row – The “Cunzie Nook” – Time of Charles I. – The Candlemakers’ Hall – The Affair of Dr. Symons – The Society, 1598 – Brown Square – Proposed Statue to George III., 1764 – Distinguished Inhabitants – Sir Islay Campbell – Lord Glenlee – Haig of Beimerside – Sir John Leslie – Miss Jeannie Elliot – Argyle Square – Origin of it – Dr. Hugh Blair – The Sutties of that Ilk – Trades Maiden Hospital – Minto House and the Elliots – New Medical School – Baptist Church – Chambers Street – Industrial Museum of Science and Art – Its Great Hall and adjoining Halls – Aim of the Architect – Contents and Models briefly glanced at – New Watt Institution and School of Arts – Phrenological Museum – New Free Tron Church – New Training College of the Church of Scotland – The Dental Hospital – The Theatre of Varieties.
THE Candlemaker Row is simply the first portion of the old way that led from the Grassmarket and Cowgate-head, where Sir John Inglis resided in 1784, to the lands of Bristo, and thence on to Powburn; and it was down this way that a portion of the routed Flemings, with Guy of Namur at their head, fled towards the Castle rock, after their defeat on the Burghmuir in 1335.
In Charles I.’s time a close line of street with a great open space behind occupied the whole of the east side, from the Greyfriars Port to the Cowgate-head. The west side was the boundary wall of the churchyard, save at the foot, where two or three houses appear in 1647, one of which, as the Cunzie Nook, is no doubt that referred to by Wilson as “a curious little timber-fronted tenement, surmounted with antique crow-steps; an open gallery projects in front, and rude little shot-windows admit the light to the decayed and gloomy chambers therein.” This, we presume, to be the Cunzie Nook, a place where the Mint had no doubt been established at some early period, possibly during some of the strange proceedings in the Regency of Mary of Guise, when the Lords of the Congregation “past to Holyroodhous, and tuik and intromettit with the ernis of the Cunzehous.”
On the west side, near the present entrance to the churchyard of the Greyfriars, stands the hall of the ancient Corporation of the Candlemakers, which gave its name to the Row, with the arms of the craft boldly cut over the doorway, on a large oblong panel, and, beneath, their appropriate motto,
Omnia manifesta luce.
Internally, the hall is subdivided into many residences, smaller accommodation sufficing for the fraternity in this age of gas, so that it exists little more than in name. In 1847 the number of its members amounted to only three, who met periodically for various purposes, connected with the corporation and its funds.
Edgar’s plan shows, in the eighteenth century, the close row of houses that existed along the whole of the west side, from the Bristo Port to the foot, and nearly till Forrest Road was opened up in a line with the central Meadow Walk.
Humble though this locality may seem now, Sir James Dunbar, Bart., of Durn, rented No. 21 in 1810, latterly a carting office. In those days the street was a place of considerable bustle; the Hawick dilligence started twice weekly from Paterson’s Inn, a well-known hostel in its time, and weekly thirty-two carriers put up in the same quarter.
In that year the Candlemaker’s Row was the scene of a tragedy that excited great attention at the time – the slaughter of a noted ruffian named John Boyd, an inhabitant of the street, by Dr. Symons of the 51st or Edinburgh Regiment of Militia, on the night of the 2nd August, for which, after being out on bail under £500, he was brought before the High Court of Justiciary on a charge of murder.
It would appear that about midnight Dr. Symons, after being at a dinner-party in Buccleuch Place, was on his way through the Row to the Castle, accompanied by Lieutenant Ronaldson of the same regiment, when opposite Paterson’s Inn they were attacked by two men, one of whom, a notorious disturber of the peace, struck the doctor a blow behind the neck, and subsequently attempted to wrest his sword away, knocking him down and kicking him at the same time.
Staggering to his feet, and burning with rage, the doctor drew his sword and pursued his assailant down the Row to Merchant Street, when a fresh struggle ensued, and Boyd was run through the body and left bleeding in the gutter, where he was found dead, while the doctor was totally ignorant that he had injured him so severely. The generally infamous character of the deceased being proved, the Lord Justice Clerk, Charles Hope, summed up to the effect, “that the charge of murder was by no means brought home to the prisoner; that what he had done was altogether in self-defence, and the natural impulse of the moment, from being attacked, beaten, knocked down, and grievously insulted.” The jury returned a verdict of “Not Guilty,” and the doctor was dismissed from the bar, and lived long years after as a practitioner in the country.
In the open space referred to, eastward of Candlemaker Row, Gordon of Rothiemay shows us (see [Map] p. 261) the ancient buildings known as the Society, forming an oblong quadrangle, lying east and west, with open ground to the north and south, the former sloping down to the Cowgate, and planted with trees. These buildings, the last of which – a curiously picturesque group, long forming the south-east quarter of what was latterly Brown Square – were only removed when Chambers Street was made in 1871, and were built by a society of brewers established in 1598.
It was built upon a piece of ground that belonged of old to the convent of Sienna (at the Sciennes), and was a corporation for the brewing of ale and beer, commodities which have ever been foremost among the staple productions of Edinburgh, and the name of “Society” accorded to that quarter, remained as a tradition of the ancient company long after it had passed away. An Englishman who visited Edinburgh in 1598, wrote:- “The Scots drink pure wines, not with sugar as the English; yet at feasts they put comfits in the wine, after the French manner, but they had not our vintners’ fraud to mix their wines. I did never see nor hear that they have any public inns; but the better sort of citizens brew ale, their usual drink, which will distemper a stranger’s body.”
The usual allowance of ale at table then, was a chopin, equal to about an imperial pint, to each person. Though Edinburgh ale is still famous, private brewing is no longer practised.
A curious fragment of the old town wall was built into the southern edifices of the Society, and portions of them may remain, where an old established inn once stood, long known as the Hole in the Wall.
In this quarter a fashionable boarding-school for young ladies was established in the middle of the last century by Mrs. Janet Murray, widow of Archibald Campbell, collector of the customs at Prestonpans. She died in the Society in 1770, and the establishment was then conducted by her friends under the name of “Mrs. Murray’s Boarding School.”
To those who remember it in its latter days the locality seems a strange one for a young ladies’ school; but Lord Hailes, after removing from Todrig’s Wynd, occupied a house in “The Society,” before locating himself in New Street.
Brown Square, now nearly swept away, was a small oblong place, about 200 feet east and west, by 150 north and south. During the long delay which took place between the first project of having a New Town, and building a bridge that was to lead to it, a rival town began to spring up in another quarter, which required neither a bridge nor an Act of Parliament, nor even the unanimity of several interested proprietors to mature it, and it soon became important enough to counteract for some years the extension by the ridge of the Lang Dykes. This might have been prevented had the magistrates contrived to acquire a piece of ground south of the Old Town, which was offered to them for only £1,200, but which was purchased by a builder and architect named George Brown, a brother of Brown of Lindsaylands and Elliston. He was the projector and builder of George Square, and also built the large house of Bellevue (for General Scott of Balcomie), which stood so long in Drummond Place.
On the ground acquired so cheaply he proceeded at once to erect, in 1763-4, houses that were deemed fine mansions, and found favour with the upper classes, before a stone of the New Town was laid. Repenting of their mistake, the magistrates offered Mr. Brown £2,000 for the ground; but he, perceiving the success of his scheme, demanded £20,000, so the city relinquished the idea. The square was quickly finished on nearly three sides, including the Society, and one old mansion having an octagon turnpike stair, dated 1718, at the north-east corner next Crombie’s Close, and became filled with inhabitants of a good class while George Square rose collaterally with it.
Till about 1780 the inhabitants of these districts formed a distinct class of themselves, and had their own places of amusement, independent of all the rest of the city. Nor was it until the New Town was rather far advanced that the south side lost its attractions; and we are told that, singular as it may appear, there was one instance, if not more, of a gentleman living and dying in this southern district without having once visited, or even seen, the New Town, although at the time of his death it had extended westward to Castle Street. (Scott’s “Provincial Antiquities.”)
In the notes to “Redgauntlet,” the same author tells us, that in its time Brown Square was hailed “as an extremely elegant improvement” on Edinburgh residences, even with its meagre plot of grass and shabby iron railings. It is here he places the house of Saunders Fairford, where Alan is described as first beholding the mysterious Lady Greenmantle, and as being so bewildered with her appearance, that he stood as if he had been senseless. “The door was opened, out she went, walked along the pavement, turned down the close (at the north-east end of the square leading into the Cowgate), and put the sun, I believe, into her pocket when she disappeared, so suddenly did dulness and darkness sink down on the square when she was no longer visible.”
To show how much this new locality was thought of, we will here quote a letter in the Edinburgh Advertiser of 6th March, 1764 (Vol. I.):-
“Sir, – With pleasure I have observed of late the improvements we are making in this metropolis, and there is nothing which pleases me more than the taste for elegant buildings, than which nothing can be a greater ornament to a city, or give a stranger a greater impression of the improvement of the inhabitants in polite and liberal arts.
“That very elegant square, called Brown Square, which, in my opinion, is a very great beauty to the town, is now almost finished, and last day the green pasture was railed in. Now, I think, to complete the whole, an elegant statue in the middle would be well worth the expense; and I dare say the gentlemen who possess houses there would not grudge a small sum to have that part adorned with an equestrian statue of his present Majesty George the Third, and which I should think, would be contributed to by public subscriptions, set a-foot for that purpose. While we are thus making such improvements, I am surprised nobody has ever mentioned an improvement on our College [the old one was then extant] which, as it now is, gives strangers but an unfavourable idea of our University, which, however, is at present so flourishing… To have a handsome building for that purpose is surely the desire of every good citizen. This could be easily accomplished by various means. Suppose a lottery should be proposed, every student I dare say would take a ticket, and I would venture to ensure the success of it.”
But George III. was fated not to have a statue either in Brown Square or Great King Street, according to a suggestion some sixty years afterwards; yet as a proof that the square was deemed alike fashionable and elegant, we may enumerate some of those who resided there. Among them were the Dowager Lady Elphinstone (daughter of John sixth Earl of Wigton) who had a house here in 1784; Henry Dundas (afterwards Viscount Melville), when a member of the Faculty of Advocates; Sir Islay Campbell, Bart., of Succoth, in the days when it was the custom of the senators to walk to court in the morning, with nicely powdered wigs, and a small cocked hat in the hand – a practice retained nearly to the last by Lord Glenlee: he was afterwards Lord President. He bought Lord Melville’s house in Brown Square, and after a time removed to York Place.
His successor in the same residence, No. 15, was John Anstruther of that ilk, Advocate, with whom resided the family of Charles Earl of Traquair, whose mother was a daughter of Sir Philip Anstruther of Anstrutherfield. Other residents were Lord Henderland and the future Lord President Blair of Avontoun, both when at the bar, and William Craig, afterwards a Lord of Justiciary in 1792; Sir John Forbes-Drummond, when a captain of the Royal Navy, and before he became Baronet of Hawthornden; Henry Mackenzie, the ubiquitous “Man of Feeling;” Lord Woodhouselee, and the Lord President Miller, whose residence was the large house (No. 17) with the painted front, on the north side, the interior of which, with its frescoes and panelings, is now one of the finest specimens remaining of a fashionable Edinburgh mansion of the eighteenth century; and therein lived and died his son Lord Glenlee, who (ultimus Scotorum!) resisted the attraction of three successive New Towns, to which all his brethren had long before fled.
He retained, until within a few years of his death, the practice referred to, of walking daily to Court, hat in hand, with a powdered wig, through Brown Square, down Crombie’s Close, across the Cowgate, and up the Back Stairs to the Parliament House, attended by his valet, and always scrupulously dressed in black. In 1838, when nearly eighty years of age, this grand lord of the old school, was compelled to have recourse to a sedan chair by which he was wont to be carried to Court by George IV. Bridge. He died in No. 17, in 1846, surviving for thirty-one years the death of his favourite and lamented son, Colonel William Miller of the 1st Foot Guards, who fell mortally wounded at Quatre Bras.
No. 3 was the residence, in 1811, of James Haig, of Beimerside and that ilk, who is mentioned in the “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” with reference to the old prophecy said to have been made by Thomas the Rhymer, that,
“Tide tide, whatever betide,
There’ll aye be a Haig in Beimerside.”
The family have possessed the estate for many centuries. “The grandfather of the present proprietor of Beimerside,” wrote Scott in 1802, “had twelve daughters before his lady brought him a male heir. The common people trembled for their favourite soothsayer. The late Mr. Haig was at length born, and their belief in the prophecy confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
No. 14 was the residence of stout and portly Sir John Leslie, Bart., K.H., Professor of Natural History in the University, the celebrated mathematician, the successor of Playfair, who died in 1832; and though mentioned last, not least, this now nearly defunct square held the residence of Miss Jeannie Elliot, authoress, about the middle of the last century, of the song “The Flowers of the Forest,” who is said to have composed it in consequence of a wager with her brother that she could not write a ballad on the subject of Flodden as they were driving homeward one evening in the carriage. “Yielding,” says the biographer of the “Songstresses of Scotland,” “to the influence of the moment, Jean accepted the challenge. Leaning back in her corner with all the most mournful stories of the country-side for her inspiration, and two lines of an old ballad which had often rung in her ears and trembled on her lips for a foundation, she planned and constructed the rude framework of her ‘Flowers of the Forest,’ in imitation of the older song to the same air.”
Miss Elliot of Minto dwelt on the first floor of a house beside the archway or pend which gave access to Brown Square from the Candlemaker Row, in the south-west corner, opposite the Greyfriars’ Gate. She spent the latter part of her life chiefly in Edinburgh, where she mingled a good deal in the better sort of society. “I have been told,” says Chambers in his “Scottish Songs,” “by one who was admitted in youth to the privileges of her conversation, that she was a remarkably agreeable old lady, with a prodigious fund of Scottish anecdote, but did not appear to have been handsome.” Miss Tytler describes her, when advanced in years, to have been a little delicate old woman, in a close cap, ruffle, and ample snow-white neckerchief; her eyebrows well arched, but having a nose and mouth that belonged to an expressive, rather than a handsome face. She generally went abroad in a sedan.
Eastward of this quarter lay Argyle Square (now swept away to make room for Chambers Street), an open area of 150 feet long, by the same in breadth, including the front gardens of the houses on the north side. The houses were all massive, convenient, and not inelegant, and in some instances, three storeys in height. The exact date of its being built seems doubtful, tradition takes it back nearly to 1730, and it is said to have been named from the following circumstances:- A tailor named Campbell having got into the graces of his chief, the great John Duke of Argyle and Greenwich, was promised the first favour that peer’s acquaintance or interest might throw in his way. Accordingly, on the death of George I., the Duke having early intelligence of the event, let his clansman, the tailor, instantly know it, and the latter, before his brethren in the trade were aware, bought up all the black cloth in the city, and forthwith drove such a trade in supplying the zealous Whigs with mourning suits at his own prices, that he shortly realised a little fortune, wherewith he laid the foundation of a greater.
He began to build the first houses of this square, and named it Argyle in honour of his patron, and much of it appears to have been finished when Edgar drew his first plan of the city in 1742. In the plan of 1765 the whole of the south side was still called Campbell’s New Buildings. But prior to any edifice being erected here, a retired bookseller of the Parliament Close, who had once been Lord Provost, built himself a mansion in what he deemed a very rustic and suburban quarter, at the head of Scott’s Close, latterly used as a ministers’ hall. Prior to that, and after the Provost’s death, it had been the family mansion of Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw.
Lord Cullen dwelt here in a flat above what was in 1824 a grocery store; and in the central house, on the north side, lived Dr. Hugh Blair, the eminent divine and sermon writer, one of the greatest ornaments of the Scottish Church and of his native capital; and in that house (when he was Professor of Rhetoric) died his wife, on the 9th February, 1795; she was his cousin Catharine, daughter of the Rev. James Bannatyne, a city minister.
Many professors succeeded Blair as tenants of the same house; among them, Alexander Christison, Professor of Humanity, between 1806 and 1820, father of the great chemist, Professor Sir Robert Christison, Bart.
In the north-western extremity of the square was the mansion of Sir George Suttie, Bart, of that ilk, and Balgone in Haddingtonshire, who married Janet, daughter of William Grant, Lord Prestongrange; and here also resided his son, Sir James, who, in 1818, succeeded his aunt, Janet Grant, Countess of Hyndford, as heir of the line of Prestongrange, and assumed thereby in consequence the additional name and arms of Grant. Their neighbour was Lady Mary Cochrane, daughter of Thomas sixth Earl of Dundonald, who died unmarried at an old age.
In 1795 among the residents in Argyle Square were Sir John Dalrymple, the Ladies Rae, Sutton (dowager), and Reay, Elizabeth Fairlie (dowager of George Lord Reay, who died in 1768). Isolated from the rising New Town on the north by the great mass of the ancient city, and viewing it with a species of antagonism and rivalry, we may well imagine the exclusiveness of the little coteries in the two squares which was described as prevailing, in their amusements – tea-drinking and little fêtes, at a time when manners in Edinburgh were starched, stately, and old-fashioned, as the customs and ideas that were retained, when dying out elsewhere.
On the east side of this square was the old Trades Maiden Hospital, a plain substantial edifice, consisting of a central block, having a great arched door, to which a flight of steps ascended, and wings, with a frontage of about 150 feet. It was intended for the daughters of decayed tradesmen, and was a noble institution, founded in 1704 by the charitable Mrs. Mary Erskine, the liberal contributor to the Merchant Maiden Hospital, and who was indeed the joint foundress of both.
In 1794 fifty girls were maintained in the hospital, paying £1 13s. 4d. on entrance, and receiving when they left it a bounty of £5 16s. 6½d., for then its revenue amounted to only £600 per annum. In the process of making Chambers Street this edifice was demolished, and the institution removed to Rillbank near the Meadows.
It stood immediately opposite Minto House, a handsome and spacious edifice on the north side of the square, forty-five feet square, on the slope down towards the Cowgate, surrounded by trees, and recessed back, within, latterly, a pillared carriage entrance, ninety feet from the line of the street.
This was the first town lodging of the family of Lord Minto, whose race were wont of old to take their share in the rough moss-trooping work of the Borders, but changed with the new world of things. Sir Gilbert Elliot, when constituted a senator in 1705, assumed the title of Lord Minto. He had made his hit at the bar in rescuing William Veitch, a Covenanting minister, from the Scottish Government, in the last days of the persecution, and is said to have had a hand in the escape of the Earl of Argyle from his captivity in Edinburgh; however, he was compelled to take refuge in Holland; but with the Revolution came the days of change, and seventeen years subsequent thereto he found himself on the bench. On the Dumfries circuit he met his old client Veitch, then a parish minister, and they playfully reverted to the terrible times of the past.
“Had it no been for me, my lord,” said Veitch, “ye’d been writing papers yet, at a plack a page.”
“And had it no been for me, Willie,” retorted Lord Minto, “the pyets wad hae pyked your pow on the Netherbow Port.”
He was succeeded by his son Sir Gilbert, who was also bred to the bar, and on being appointed Lord Justice Clerk, assumed the title of Minto, and died in 1766. His son, the third baronet, was a man of considerable political and literary abilities, and filled several high official situations. He was author of the well-known pastoral beginning, in the affected style peculiar to his day –
“My sheep I neglected, I left my sheep-hook,
And all the gay haunts of my youth I forsook;
No more for Amynta fresh garlands I wove,
For ambition, I said, would soon cure me of love;
Oh! what had my youth with ambition to do,
Why left I Amynta? why broke I my vow?”
He also wrote a monody on the death of Colonel Gardiner at Prestonpans, which is only singular for being almost the only song of the period not on the Jacobite side. His philosophical correspondence with David Hume is quoted with commendation by Dugald Stewart in “Philosophy of the Human Mind,” and in his “Dissertation prefixed to the seventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.” In 1763 he was Treasurer of the Navy, and died at Marseilles in 1777.
For some years after that period Minto House was the residence of Sir William Nairne of Dunsinnan, a Judge of the Court of Session, who removed there from one he had long occupied, before his promotion to the bench, at the head of the Back Stairs, and in which he had lived as Mr. Nairne, at that terrible period of his family history, when his niece, the beautiful Mrs. Ogilvie, was tried and convicted for murder in 1766.
He was the last of his line; and when he died, in 1811, at an advanced age, his baronetcy became extinct, and a nephew, his sister’s son, assumed the name and arms of Nairne of Dunsinnan.
The principal entrance to Minto House in those days was from the Horse Wynd, when it was noted chiefly as a remnant of the dull and antiquated grandeur of a former age. It was next divided into a series of small apartments, and let to people in the humblest rank of life. But it was not fated to be devoted long to such uses, for the famous surgeon, Mr. (afterwards Professor) Syme, had it fitted up in 1829 as a surgical hospital for street accidents and other cases. Mr. Syme retained the old name of Minto House, and the surgery and practice acquired a world-wide celebrity. Long the scene of demonstrations and prelections of eminent extra-mural lecturers, it was swept away in the city improvements, and its successor is now included in Chambers Street, and has become the “New Medical School of Minto House,” so that the later traditions of the site will be perpetuated.
Among other edifices demolished in Argyle Square, together with the Gaelic Church, was the Meeting House of the Scottish Baptists, seated for 240 – one of two sections of that congregation established in 1766.
Proceeding westward, from the broad site of what was once Adam Square, and the other two squares of which we have just given the history, Chambers Street opens before us, a thousand feet in length, with an average of seventy in breadth, extending from the South Bridge to that of George IV.
It was begun in 1871 under the City Improvement Act, and was worthily named in honour of the Lord Provost Chambers, the chief promoter of the new city improvement scheme. With the then old squares it includes the sites of North College Street, and parts of sites of the Horse and College Wynds, and is edificed into four large blocks, three or four storeys high, in ornate examples of the Italian style, with some specimens of the French.
Chambers Street was paved with wooden blocks in 1876, at a cost of nearly £6,000, and on that occasion 322,000 blocks were used.
On the south side three hundred and sixty feet of Chambers Street are occupied by the north front of the University. Over West College Street – of old, the link between the Horse Wynd and Potterrow – is thrown a glass-covered bridge, connecting the University with the Museum of Science and Art, which, when completed, will occupy the remaining 400 feet of the north side to where “The Society” – besides one of Heriot’s schools – exists now in name.
This great and noble museum is in the Venetian Renaissance style, from a design by Captain Fowkes of the Royal Engineers. The laying of the foundation-stone of this structure, on the 23rd of October, 1861, was the last public act of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort. It is founded on plans similar to those of the International Exhibition buildings in London, and, by the year 1870, contained – a great hall, 105 feet long, seventy wide, and seventy-seven in height; a hail of natural history, 130 feet long, fifty-seven feet wide, and seventy-seven in height; a south hall, seventy feet long, fifty feet wide, and seventy-seven in height; and two other great apartments. When completed it will be one of the noblest buildings in Scotland.
In 1871-4 the edifice underwent extension, the great hall being increased to the length of 270 feet, and other apartments being added, which, when finished, will have a measurement of 400 feet in length, 200 feet in width, with an average of ninety in height. Already it contains vast collections in natural history, in industrial art, in manufacture, and in matters connected with physical science.
The great aim of the architect has been to have every part well-lighted, and for this purpose a glass roof with open timberwork has been adopted, and the details of the whole structure made as light as possible. Externally the front is constructed of red and white sandstone, and internally a more elaborate kind of decoration has been carried out. Altogether the effect of the building is light, rich, and elegant. In the evenings, when open, it is lighted up by means of horizontal iron rods in the roof studded with gas burners, the number of jets exceeding 5,000.
The great hall or saloon is a singularly noble apartment, with two galleries. The collection of industrial art here comprises illustrations of nearly all the chief manufactures of the British Isles and foreign countries, and the largest collection in the world of the raw products of commerce. It possesses sections for mining and quarrying, for metallurgy and constructive materials, for ceramic and vitreous manufactures, the decorative arts, textile manufactures, food, education, chemistry, materia medica, photography, &c.
The whole floor is covered with articles illustrative of the arts of construction, such as products of the clay-fields, fire and brick clays, and terracottas. Cements and artificial stones stand next in order, followed by illustrations of the mode of quarrying real stone; adjoining these are stones dressed for building purposes, and others carved for ornamental uses.
Oriental stone carving is illustrated by a set of magnificent plaster casts from one of the most famous gates of Delhi, made by order of the Indian Government. The sanitary appliances used in building are likewise exhibited here; also slate and its uses, with materials for surface decorations, and woods for house timber and furniture.
Among the more prominent objects are large models of Scottish lighthouses, presented by the Commissioners of Northern Lights, of St. Peter’s at Rome, St. Paul’s at London, and the Bourse in Berlin, together with a singularly elegant carton-pierre ceiling ornament, and finely designed mantel-piece, that were originally prepared for Montagu House.
In the centre of the hall are some beautiful specimens of large guns and breechloading field-pieces, with balls and shells, and a fine model of the bridge over the Beulah in Westmoreland.
A hall devoted to the exhibition of flint and clay products, and illustrations of glass and pottery, is in the angle behind the great and east saloons. The art potteries of Lambeth are here represented by beautiful vases and plaques, and other articles in the style of old Flemish stoneware. There are also fine examples of the French faience, by Deck of Paris, including a splendid dish painted by Anker, and very interesting samples of Persian pottery as old as the fourteenth century.
There is a magnificent collection of Venetian glass, comprising nearly 400 pieces, made by the Abbot Zanetti of Murano, in Lombardy; while modern mosaic work is exemplified by a beautiful reredos by Salviati, representing the Last Supper. The beauty of ancient tile work is here exhibited in some exquisite fragments from Constantinople. These formed, originally, part of the several decorations of the mosque of Broussa, in Anatolia, which was destroyed by an earthquake. In rich blue on a white ground they display a variety of curious conceptions, one of which represents the human soul shooting aloft as a tall cypress tree, while good and evil spirits, under the guise of various animals, seek to aid or hinder its ascent.
Near these are placed, first, illustrations of colliery work, then of metallurgical operations, and lastly, the manufacture of metals. The first, or lower gallery of this hall, contains specimens of the arts in connection with clothing, and the textile fabrics generally and their processes; wood, silk, cotton, hemp, linen, jute, felt, silk, and straw-hat making, leather, fur, and also manufactures from bone, ivory, horn, tortoise-shell, feathers, hair-gut, gutta-percha, india-rubber, &c.; and the upper gallery contains the collection illustrative of chemistry, the chemical arts, materia medica, and philosophical instruments.
The department of machinery contains a specimen, presented by the inventor, of Lister’s wool combing machine, which, by providing the means of combing long wools mechanically, effected an enormous change in the worsted trade of Yorkshire.1
In the front of the east wing is the lecture room, having accommodation for 800 sitters. Above it is a large apartment, seventy feet in length by fifty broad, containing a fine display of minerals and fossils. One of the most interesting features in this department is the large and valuable collection of fossils which belonged to Hugh Miller.
The ethnological specimens are ranged in handsome cases around the walls. The natural history-hall contains on its ground floor a general collection of mammalia, including a complete grouping of British animals. The first gallery contains an ample collection of birds and shells, &c.; the upper gallery, reptiles and fishes. In the hall is suspended the skeleton of a whale seventy-nine feet in length.
On the north side of Chambers Street is the new Watt Institution and School of Arts, erected in lieu of that of which we have already given a history in Adam Square. (Vol. I., pp. 379, 380.) It was erected in 1872-3 from designs by David Rhind, and is two storeys in height, with a pavilion at its west end, and above its entrance porch the handsome statue of James Watt which stood in the demolished square.
Beside this institution stands the Phrenological Museum, on the north side, forming a conjoint building with it, and containing a carefully assorted collection of human skulls some of them being of great antiquity. It was formerly in Surgeon Square, High School Yard.
The new Free Tron Church stands here, nearly opposite the east wing of the Museum of Science and Art. It was erected in 1876-7, and presents a central block with two side pavilions; and has also a deeply recessed principal entrance, with four massive columns on each side, and a bold surmounting pediment, projected on massive corbels or trusses.
Here, too, stands the new Training College of the Church of Scotland, destined to supplement, and eventually to supersede, the edifice in Johnstone Terrace, the arrangements and accommodation of which have proved somewhat defective.
The principal object aimed at in the new premises is to provide a separate college entirely devoted to the training of male students, while the present school will thus be enlarged, and the seventh and eighth standards instituted in addition to those recognised in the Code, enabling the committee to form an upper elementary, or lower secondary school, for the instruction of advanced English, elementary Latin, French, and Mathematics.
The architecture, by Mr. David Rhind, of this new College, which is opposite the Industrial Museum, is simple in character, the more conspicuous features of the elevations being large bay windows and effective Mansard pavilion roofs.
On the second floor is the lecture hall, which measures forty-eight feet by forty, and has a ceiling which, so far as decorative art is concerned, may be considered one of the chief features in the building. A noteworthy circumstance in connection with the site of this new Training College is that the staircase is said to stand exactly over the spot where stood the room in which Sir Walter Scott was born. But this seems doubtful.
In this street is the new Dental Hospital and School, inaugurated in October, 1879, and which bids fair to become the headquarters of dentistry in Scotland.
At the east end of Chambers Street is the Theatre of Varieties, seated for 1,200 persons, and opened in 1875.
1 See “Great Industries of Great Britain,” Vol. I., pp. 107-8; II., 8-9.