Colinton Village Edinburgh

Colinton Village Edinburgh is famous for many people in history Robert Louis Stevenson, James Gillespie, The Black Douglas also Scots Porridge Oats were made here. There was a railway station and Tobacco mill, Castle, and what started it all was the ford in the water of Leith, which was used from early 11th century by many that made a journey to the Abbey at Melrose. 

Colinton Castle Colinton Village Edinburgh

Colinton Castle was the home of the Foulis family from 1531 was purchased by James de Foulis born 1490.  James married a Catherine Brown. He held the office of Lord Clerk Register. James was also a Member of Parliament and in 1526 became a Judge and was a Lord of Session in 1532. He died in 1549. Alexander Foulis of Colinton born circa 1600 – died 1665 was made a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1634. His son James Foulis, 2nd Baronet of Colinton was knighted by Charles I on 14 November 1641, and represented Edinburgh in parliament, was Lord Justice Clerk and known as Lord Colinton, he died in 1688. Colinton Castle was abandoned by its new owner Sir William Forbes who purchased the estate from the Foulises in 1800, who then built Colinton House, however he died before finishing. His son completed the house and had a staircase included in his alterations in 1840 that were carried out by William Playfair.

Colinton Village Edinburgh Colinton Castle Ruins

Colinton House Colinton Village Edinburgh

Colinton House was the home to James Abercrombie, 1st Baron Dunfermline (1776–1858), who was Speaker of the House of Commons and died at Colinton in 1858. The house was occupied until 1925 and in 1929 it became part of Merchiston Castle School. The ceiling was removed and put into Napier Tower Colinton Road.

 Merchiston House Colinton  napier tower

Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church Colinton Village Edinburgh

Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church dates from 1626 when it was moved to this site. The present Church was built in 1908.  The area was used by many travellers including Royalty as this was a ford in the river easiest to cross as this was the shortest route from Dunfermline Palace to Melrose Abbey. For more details see the information board inside the church.  

Colinton Parish Church

 Iron Coffin “Mortsafe” 

Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church Colinton Village Edinburgh

You will see enclosed vaults and metal fenced cages called Mort safes as a deterrent to grave robbers taking the bodies from their resting place to use in the medical school for autopsy and scientific experiments. The famous grave robbers of the time were (Burke and Hare). Circa 1826 there was a large problem of grave robbers The Body Snatchers as they were called would dig up the newly buried and sell the bodies, taking the bodies from their resting place to use in the Edinburgh medical school for autopsy and scientific experiments. There were deterrents put in place to stop the body snatchers, enclosed vaults and metal fenced cages with locks and iron coffins known as a ‘mortsafe’ could be hired out. The mortsafe would be put on the grave where the coffin had been buried and as the mortsafe were so heavy (1000 kilos) they could not be moved.  There is a mortsafe close to the entrance to the church thought to be the only one left in existence.

Colinton Parish Church Mortsafe

Foulis Sundial 

Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church Colinton Village Edinburgh

To the left of the entrance to the church at about 3 m (10 foot) can be seen a sundial with the date 1630 and bears the coat of arms of the Foulis family.

Colinton Parish Church Sundial

Oldest Grave Stone Agnes (Heriot) Foulis

Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church Colinton Village Edinburgh

The oldest grave stone is with a date of 1593, Agnes Heriot the wife of James Foulis of Colinton.  Agnes Heriot was Heiress of Lumphey near Pembroke, Wales was born in 1556, and Agnes married James Foulis circa 1564, at age 8 and died 1593 at age 37.

The start of a trail of history around Colinton Village

As a boy Robert Louis Stevenson would have frequently passed this place when staying with his grandfather at the nearby Colinton Manse. The Manse: “ It was a place in that time like no other: the garden cut into provinces by a great hedge of beech, and overlooked by the church and the terrace of the churchyard, where the tombstones were thick, and after nightfall “spunkies” might be seen to dance, at least by children;”  “Memories and Portraits” Robert

Robert Louis Stevenson Steps              A walk with Robert Louis Stevenson  

 A walk "Robert Louis Stevenson Steps" Colinton Village  Robert Louis Stevenson Colinton The Swing As a boy Robert Louis Stevenson would have frequently passed this place when staying with his grandfather at the nearby Colinton Manse. The Manse: “ It was a place in that time like no other: the garden cut into provinces by a great hedge of beech, and overlooked by the church and the terrace of the churchyard, where the tombstones were thick, and after nightfall “spunkies” might be seen to dance, at least by children;”  “Memories and Portraits” Robert

Louis Stevenson. Visit the swing café in the churchyard to see the old yew tree that held the swing believed to have Robert Louis Stevenson inspired  to write his poem The Swing. Dr Lewis Balfour was the minister of St Cuthbert’s Parish Church in Colinton in 1838.  His daughter being the mother of Robert Louis Stevenson, author and poet.  As a boy Robert Louis Stevenson would played on a tree swing next to the manse and while sitting by the river would write poetry.

 Yew Tree where Robert Louis Stevenson would sit and swing and make up poems Yew Tree where Robert Louis Stevenson would sit and swing and make up poems

Rev. Lewis Balfour grandfather to Robert Louis Stevenson. Memorial in graveyard.  

 Rev. Lewis Balfour Memorial Stone Balfour Family Grave

A walk with Robert Louis Stevenson  

Looking – glass River

Smooth it slides upon its travel, | Here a wimple, there a gleam – | O the clean gravel !  | O the smooth stream! |  Sailing blossoms, silverfishes, | Paven pools as clear as air – | How a child wishes | To live down there! |  We can see our coloured faces | Floating on the shaken pool | Down in cool places, | Dim and very cool; | Till a wind or water wrinkle, |  Dipping marten, plumbing trout, | Spreads in a twinkle | And blots all out. | See the rings purse each other; |  All below grows black as night, | Just as if mother |  Had blown out the light! | Patience, children, just a minute – | See the spreading circles die; | The stream and all in it |  Will clear by and by. |  A Child’s Garden of Verses |  Lookout for wildlife as you stroll along the riverside paths of the Water of Leith.

Looking – glass River | Smooth it slides upon its travel, | Here a wimple, there a gleam – | O the clean gravel !  | O the smooth stream! |  Sailing blossoms, silverfishes, | Paven pools as clear as air – | How a child wishes | To live down there! |  We can see our coloured faces | Floating on the shaken pool | Down in cool places, | Dim and very cool; | Till a wind or water wrinkle, |  Dipping marten, plumbing trout, | Spreads in a twinkle | And blots all out. | See the rings purse each other; |  All below grows black as night, | Just as if mother |  Had blown out the light! | Patience, children, just a minute – | See the spreading circles die; | The stream and all in it |  Will clear by and by. |  A Child’s Garden of Verses |  Lookout for wildlife as you stroll along the riverside paths of the Water of Leith.

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 1850 – 1894

Saint Cuthbert’s Parish Church Colinton Village Edinburgh

A statue of Robert Louis Stevenson as a boy sits outside Colinton Parish Church where he attended Sunday worship with his family.

  Robert Louis Stevenson statue as a boy  Plaque on Robert Louis Stevenson Sculpture Colinton

Plaque on Sculpture reads;  Robert Louis Stevenson “All through my boyhood and youth I was known and pointed out for the pattern of an idler; and yet I was always busy on my own private end, which was to learn to write. I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” “Memories and Portraits” Robert Louis Stevenson.

 

Phoebe Anna Traquair | Railing and Gate 

These wrought-iron railings and gates | were commissioned by the well-known | Edinburgh printer Walter Bigger Blaikie | for his house in Colinton.| They were designed by Phoebe Anna Traquair, |  with the technical help from the architect Frank Mears | and made in 1924 by Thomas Hadden, | the leading wrought- iron worker in Scotland.| Phoebe Anna Traquair lived in Colinton | And was one of the most versatile contributors to the | Late nineteenth century British Arts and Crafts movement. | The ornamental railings are a unique example | Of her work in wrought iron. They were restored by the | Colinton Community Conservation Trust in 2007, |  Using Chris Topp & Co Ltd., |  Stone masons from Edinburgh.

 Phoebe Anna Traquir Railings  Phoebe Anna Traquir Plaque

Spylaw House (James Gillespie)

Spylaw House in Colinton was the home to James Gillespie a tobacco merchant with a shop in the North Foulis’ Close, High Street. James Gillespie an Edinburgh city merchant and founder of James Gillespie’s Hospital and School. The hospital opened in 1802 and could accommodate up to 66 Pensioners with preferential entry going to people with the name Gillespie.

James Gillespie School

The school was originally sited at Gillespie Crescent near to the original hospital at Wright’s house. James Gillespie was born in Edinburgh on the 28 April 1726 and died at his home in Spylaw, Colinton a suburb of Edinburgh on 8 April 1797. His brothers, John and James were Tobacco and snuff merchants had their own factory at the back of their house at Spylaw. Due to the civil war in the Americas they were a main British supplier to the trade and controlled the prices at the time. James Gillespie is buried in Colinton Parish Church.

 Spylaw House Colinton Village  Formerly the shop of James Gillespie of Spylaw Colinton Village Tobacco and Snuff Merchant  Spylaw House Colinton Village Driveway   

James Gillespie of Spylaw Tobacconist and founder of James Gillespie’s High School. Inscription reads; Within rests the remains of | James Gillespie of Spylaw | Who bequeathed the bulk of his fortune | For the endowment of an hospital in the City of Edinburgh |  For the maintenance of aged men and women | And of a free school for the education of poor boys | Both of which have proved most useful public charities | Died 8th April 1797.

James Gillespie of Spylaw Mausoleum James Gillespie of Spylaw Memorial Stone

Water of Leith Walkway Colinton Village Edinburgh

The ford in the river (water of Leith) in Colinton Village Edinburgh, was used from early 11th century by many that made a journey to the Abbey at Melrose. The Bridge now spans the river which is the main road bridge joining Colinton Village North and South.

 The bridge over the ford in the river where the route to the Scottish Borders was used by Royalty.    Water of Leith Walkway Colinton Village Balerno, Currie, Juniper Green Redhall, Craiglockhart, Slateford  Harperrig 10m  Leith 8m

Covenanters’ 1666 Rullion Green  

The memorial is to remember the covenanters who died at the Battle of Rullion Green. It was at Colinton where the covenanters turned for home, on their way the Royalist Army lead by Sir Thomas Dalziel caught up with them, just outside Penicuik at Rullion Green and after a short and bloody battle and many deaths, the Government troops took the Covenanters that survived and imprisoned them in Greyfriars Covenanters prison where they died, were executed or deported. A few were lucky and escaped. The column was erected by Mr MacFie and the inscription around top of column; “Covenanters 1666”  “Romans”  “Cromwell 1650”  “Charles 1745”. 

 Covenanter's Memorial 1666 Covenanter's Memorial Pillar 1666

Redford Barracks

The Cavalry and Infantry barracks at Redford were built circa 1915. On the sign at the gates reads “Lothian and Borders Horse”. Redford Barracks was the largest military installation built in Scotland after Fort George in 1757.  Edinburgh Castle’s army garrison official moved out of Edinburgh Castle to Redford barracks in 1923. The building pictured is the Cavalry Barracks with clock-tower in the centre. The building was originally built to house a cavalry regiment, most notably the Royal Scots Greys.

 Redford Cavalry and Infantry Barracks

 

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