St John’s Street and St John’s Pend

Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh

St John’s Cross Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh

Named after St John’s Cross that stood on the High street of the Canongate which marked where the Canongate started. The area from the St John’s Cross to the Nether Bow Gate (Edinburgh) was once open land but over time houses were built due to the overcrowding in the High Street Edinburgh, in time the St John’s Cross was removed but was marked with cobbles and a plaque. The Cross signified the start of the Canongate and this is where proclamations were read and dignitors would meet before entering Edinburgh. 

 st john's cross cobbles canongate royal mile edinburgh old playhouse close gate canongate royal mile edinburgh

The Knights of St John had their houses in this area. Go through the Archway which was created in 1767 and you will find the Masonic Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2 and the oldest masonic chapel in the world. This is where Robert Burns was affiliated and was crowned Poet Laureate. The archway below the Moray House tablet takes you to St John’s Street, also known as St John’s Pend this is where the first known masonic lodge was sited,(St John’s Lodge) date unknown. There are other Lodges that also claim to be the first lodge by way of minutes of meetings, but St John’s name has been synonymous with this area since the early 1500s.  It is believed that the name was first used by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem who held property in this area. The entrance to the Canongate was built in 1768 and the houses in St John’s Street were occupied by noble families. On the west side was Canongate Lodge and Lodge Kilwinning No 2 further down was the mansion of Lord Wemyss and the nearest to the south back of Canongate (now Holyrood Road) was the Royal Maternity Hospital which was founded in 1835. On the east side of St John’s Street lived No1 Sir Charles Preston, No 3 Lord Blantyre, No 5 The Earl of Dalhousie, No 8 Andrew Carmichael last Earl of Hyndford, No 10 James Ballantyne (partner and confidant of Sir Walter Scott) This is where Walter Scott would discuss his forthcoming novels. and Finally No 13 Lord Monboddo, a Judge and Linguist a friend of Robert Burns and David Hume and a well known figure in all Edinburgh.

 St John's Pend Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh  St John's Street Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh  st john's street sign canongate royal mile edinburgh

  

This plaque reads;  This Building now a part of  | Moray House College was | erected 1755 and restored 1955. 

This plaque reads; ST JOHN’S PEND | THE KNIGHT’S OF ST JOHN | HAD THEIR HOUSES IN THIS | DISTRICT | THE ENTRANCE TO THE STREET | WAS BUILT IN 1763 | HOUSES OCCUPIED BY FAMOUS | FAMILIES AND OCCASIONALLY | BY SMOLLETT 

ST JOHN'S PEND SIGN ROYAL MILE CANONGATE EDINBURGH

This wall tablet reads;  Tobias George Smollett | 1721 – 1771 | Stayed here at the house | of his sister Mrs Telfer | During the summer of 1766

St John's Pend Smollett's Plaque Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh

This wall tablet reads; This fine example of an 18th century Edinburgh tenement was erected by the Earls of Hopetoun who also built Hopetoun House. It remained in residential use until Moray House acquired the building in 1956 and installed classrooms, staff students and a fully equipped proscenium theatre.   Tobias Smollett the novelist stayed with his sister in a flat which is now part of the theatre stage. It was here in 1766 that he wrote his last novel, “Humphry Clinker” in which tenement life is fully described. The building was originally six storeys high but today only five storeys are above ground. It takes its name from the adjoining St John’s Masonic Lodge. James Boswell was once president of the lodge and Robert Burns attended its meetings during his visit to Edinburgh in 1787-88.

St John's Land St John's Street Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh

 

Sir Godfrey Hilton Thomson Moray House College Royal Mile Edinburgh

An educational psychologist and the director of studies at Moray House College for 26 years and a pioneer of educational testing. Sir Godfrey Thomson’s plaque can be found in St John’s Pend in Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Sir Godfrey Thomson led the only IQ test to be held in Scotland testing took place in 1932 and 1947 of all 11 year old children.

 SIR GODFREY HILTON THOMSON ST JOHN'S PEND CANONGATE ROYAL MILE EDINBURGH

MASONIC LODGE CANONGATE KILWINNING NO 2 St JOHN’S STREET ROYAL MILE EDINBURGH

MASONIC LODGE CANONGATE KILWINNING NO 2 St JOHN'S STREET ROYAL MILE EDINBURGH

St John’s Lodge Canongate 

Saint John's Lodge St John's Land Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh

The Lodge Canongate, Kilwinning has had many famous brothers, Robert Burns the Poet and John Napier the inventor of the logarithms. At the first gate on the right entering from the Canongate, above a black door on the lintel, can be seen the words SAINT JOHN’S LODGE. The next building is Lodge Kilwinning No 2 this is named after the original lodge in Ayrshire which dates back to the building of Kilwinning Abbey in 1140, however the Abbey of Holyrood built in 1124, was also linked to the freemasons and is older. The difference is, Lodge Mother Kilwinning in Ayrshire issued charters and warrants to Lodges wishing the privileges of freemasonry. In the High Street Hyndford’s Close (St David’s Lodge) is where Sir Walter Scott became a mason.         

 Door of what could be the Oldest Masonic Lodge in the world on the lintel above the door reads; SAINT JOHN'S LODGE

LODGE CANONGATE ROYAL MILE CANONGATE EDINBURGH

The first Lodge to request a charter was the Lodge Canongate. This was granted in December 1677 and is the first known example in the world of a Lodge being granted a Charter by an existing Lodge.  The Chapel of St John is the oldest purpose built masonic meeting room in the world. The first Grand Lodge of Scotland was Lodge Canongate Kilwinning in 1735. The Head Office of the Grand Lodge of Scotland is at 96 George Street Edinburgh. The Lodge of Edinburgh (St Mary’s Chapel) No 1 has the oldest recorded meeting minutes dating back to 1598 and is still in existence in Hill Street Edinburgh today.

The Church at the foot of St John’s Street west side was built on land owned by the Earl of Wemyss in 1882 to accommodate the congregation which worshipped in St Giles’ Cathedral.

link to Sugarhouse Close