Bristo Place Edinburgh

Bristo Place previously Bristo Street which was one of the main thoroughfares with Potterrow the other. These two roads were gave access to Edinburgh from the south, before the Southbridge and Forrest Road had been built. Bristo Street is where the Darien House was sited and the Edinburgh Asylum in an area called Bedlam. The asylum closed in 1841 one of the patients was Robert Fergusson the poet.

 Darien House Edinburgh

Darien House was the headquarters of the Darien Scheme 1698. Later it became Darien House Hospital that looked after mentally ill patients. It stood in the area known as Bedlam on the corner of Teviot Place and Bristo Street (now Bristo Place). Bedlam area was situated in the triangle od Bristo Place, Teviot Place and Forrest Road with two main buildings, the poor house for children and the poor house for adults.  The building on the corner named Bedlam was knocked down in 1845 a year after the patients of the asylum were transferred to the new Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum in Morningside. The Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum was founded by Doctor Andrew Duncan in 1809 and opened in 1813 after the loss of Robert Fergusson who was known to have suffered from depression. However, after a serious head injury caused by a fall led to the famous poet being diagnosed mentally unsound, the 24 year old died of his head injury.  In 1847 a new church was built on the Bedlam area which is still present today. The Church Building was taken over by the University of Edinburgh in the 1970s and later the Theatre Company which is the oldest student run theatre company in Scotland now occupy the building. The Bedlam Theatre is named after the area where it stands today.

The Bedlam Theatre

Bedlam Theatre and site of Edinburgh's first Asylum

The Darien Scheme

Almost every Scot with £5 to spare invested in the Darien scheme. Thousands more travelled on the five ships that had been chartered to carry the pioneers to their new home. The first ships sailed from Leith on 12 July 1698 with 1,200 exited travellers. On arrival to the new land named Darien in December 1698. Their first decision was to rename the land Caledonia with the Capital New Edinburgh. The first task on the land was to bury the dead that had not survived the journey. After a few months more died of fever and malnutrition as there was no vegetation. Circa 400 had died and by unanimous decision the remaining settlers abandoned the scheme. With no way of send the news home a further six ships set sail on November 1699 and a further 5 ships sailed early in 1700. Out of sixteen ships only one returned which only a few settlers returned. The Loss of people over 2000 and investment over £500,000 almost bankrupted Scotland and swayed the government in the Act of Union of 1707. No English were involved in the venture even though it had been William Paterson’s the founder of the Bank of England that had the idea as he had made his initial fortune by international trade, in the America’s and West Indies.


 Bedlam Area Darien House Bristo Place Edinburgh    Darien House Plaque Bristo Place Edinburgh

Flodden Wall 1513 Edinburgh City Wall

This plaque can be seen above the famous Edinburgh herbalists Napiers on the corner of Teviot Place and Bristo Place where the Darien House | Bedlam Asylum stood.

Flodden Wall Plaque on Corner of Bristo Place and Teviot Place above oldest Herbalist in Edinburgh


Teviot Place Edinburgh