Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh is the small area around the Palace of Holyrood House which was built circa 1480 leading up to the Palace gates. The brass letter S’s in the cobbles that can be found across the start on the Abbey Strand were boundary markers of a sanctuary, which is five miles in circumference and takes in Holyrood Park. The Sanctuary was a safe place for people that were running away from creditors to live. The building that is now used as a gift shop was once homes for debtors. There are two significant buildings in the Abbey Strand Holyrood House Palace and Holyrood Abbey the later dating back to King David I.    

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Abbey Strand Edinburgh is the small area around the Palace of Holyrood House which was built circa 1480 leading up to the Palace gates.

ROYAL MILE ABBEY STRAND EDINBURGH

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Holyrood Abbey

Holyrood Abbey was built by King David I in 1128 is now a ruin with a history that spans 800 years. Holyrood Abbey’s position close to Edinburgh Castle meant that it was often visited by Scotland’s monarchs throughout the centuries. Holyrood Abbey was the site of the coronations of James II in 1437 and Charles I in 1633. It also housed the first high school of Scotland.

 Holyrood Abbey Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh  Holyrood Abbey Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Palace of Holyrood House

Palace of Holyrood House is Queen Elizabeth II’s official residence in Scotland was built in 1498 by James IV. The Palace was set alight and burned down in November of 1650 when Cromwell’s troops were leaving. This was said to be an accident. The Tower of James V being the only part that survived. The present palace foundations were laid in 1671 and the rebuild completed in 1674, the new occupants took up residency at the end of 1679. The then Duke of Albany and York, to be James the II of England and VII of Scotland and family.

Palace of Holyrood House Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Unicorn Wall Tablet 

In the Abbey Strand on the entrance through the south wall near the gates to the Palace of Holyrood House you will see an ornate stone tablet of a unicorn with the inscription; IR5 or (KING JAMES THE V) A white unicorn (the symbol of Scotland) holding the saltire flag of Scotland, with a shield, with the red lion rampant.

ROYAL MILE ORIGINAL SANCTURY BUILDING ABBEY STRAND EDINBURGH

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Holyrood Fountain

In the forecourt of the Palace of Holyrood House stands an Octagonal stone fountain which is said to be design on the original fountain that stood in Linlithgow Palace. The fountain has many figures and heads and was built around 1860. Octagonal stone fountain is decorated with figures from the who’s who Blair, Montgomery, Campbell and Blackadder, Rizzio, Queen Margaret, John Cunningham, Town Drummer of Linlithgow, Lady Cramford with a hawk perched on her finger and a dog by her left side, the Earl of Stair, Queen Mary, Sir John Cope, Arabella of France, heads of Edward I, Queen Mary and the Duke of Buckingham Archie Simpson (Dunfermline Abbey fool), Binnock (who deceived the English at Linlithgow) and Elizabeth Blackwood the heads of Young Earl of Kent, Abbot of St Andrews and Oliver Cromwell George Buchanan (Court fool) stabbing the Duke of Devonshire the head of Grieve on Jock Howison’s farm, the head of Shakespeare, and the fool in the Court of Elizabeth the Duke of Essex and Lola Irondale with a dog the heads of John Milburn of the Covenanters, a cherub and Elizabeth Milburn.

Holyrood House Water Fountain Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Holyrood Abbey Sanctuary 

You can find the brass S’s in the cobbles of Abbey Strand leading to the entrance of Holyrood Palace. Holyrood Abbey was designated as a debtor’s sanctuary in the 16th century. The sanctuary extends to the whole of Holyrood Park slightly over 4 square miles. Anyone in debt could flee their creditors, and imprisonment or hanging, by taking up residence within the sanctuary, due to this a small community grew to the west of the palace most of the houses were demolished and only a few remain.  “Abbey Lairds”, were only able to leave the sanctuary on Sundays as it was not allowed to arrest anyone on the Sabbath. In 1880 the law was changed which meant debtors could no longer be imprisoned. The Sanctuary building is now used as a gift shop for the palace.

 Sanctuary Brass letter S in cobbles Holyrood Abbey Royal Mile Edinburgh Abbey Strand Royal Mile Sanctuary Gift Shop previously Sanctuary Houses and Tavern

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Thomson’s Court Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh

Thomson’s Court is to the north side of Abbey Strand as was used for accommodation for the debtors who lived within the sanctuary area of Holyrood Abbey circa 1850. At one time there were Taverns on the ground floor with housing above. Originally built as housing circa 1500. 

Thomson's Court Sanctuary Houses Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh

Royal Mile Abbey Strand Edinburgh

Queen Mary’s Bathhouse

Queen Mary’s Bathhouse was associated with Mary Queen of Scots. Used as a summer house for the Royals when walking in the garden. The wording on the sign reads; Queen Mary’s Bath House. This little two Storeyed building is traditionally associated with May Queen of Scots (1542-1587). It was once attached to a boundary wall enclosing the Kings privy garden and served as a pavilion or summerhouse where the royal family might relax whilst strolling in the garden. Weather it contained a bath is unknown.

 Queen Mary's Bath house Palace of Holyrood House grounds Edinburgh  Queen Mary's Bath House information board

Abbeyhill Edinburgh Police Station 

The building opposite to Queen Mary’s Bath House Abbey Strand Royal Mile Edinburgh was the originally Abbeyhill Police Station built in 1896.

Abbeyhill First Police Station

Link to North Side of Canongate

Link to Horse Wynd Royal Mile Edinburgh

Link to All About Edinburgh