West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

West Princes Street Gardens is a public park in the centre of Edinburgh in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Before the gardens were formed a Loch surrounded the north side of the Edinburgh Castle Rock. The Nor Loch stretched from under the North Bridge where the Waverley Station is now situated, to the far end of the Edinburgh Castle Rock at Kings Stables Road. The draining of the Nor Loch was required due to the fact that it had been heavily polluted from centuries of sewage draining downhill from the Old Town. The draining of the Nor Loch began in 1759 and Princes Street Gardens were created in the 1830. In 1849 the building of the rail tracks begun. the railway line to the west was laid between West Princes Street Gardens and the Edinburgh Castle Rock. which caused the West Princes Street Gardens to be renovated in 1850 to what is the gardens today. There is a walkway from the Mound where there is an entrance to West Princes Street Gardens and St John’s Church at the west end of Princes Street. There are many things to see.

West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Ross Fountain, Ross Bandstand, Scots Greys Monument, Norwegian Brigade War Memorial Boulder, Wotjec Statue, Scots American War Memorial, Floral Clock, Bum The Dog, The Royal Scots Memorial, Memorial Tree (Holocaust), Memorial Rock (Liberating Belsen), Robert Louis Stevenson Stone, Statues; Allan Ramsay, James Young Simpson, Thomas Guthrie and The Genius of Architecture

When entering West Princes Street Gardens from King’s Stables Road at the foot of Edinburgh Castle rock The First thing to see is Bum the Dog.

BUM THE VAGABOND DOG WEST PRINCES STREET GARDENS EDINBURGH

Edinburgh and San Diego, California share a twinning link with a difference. Each city is home to a historic famous dog. Edinburgh has Greyfriars Bobby who died in 1872 at the age of 16 years and San Diego has Bum the vagabond dog who died in 1898 age 12 years. Bum can be found at the gate to West Princes Street Gardens of King Stable Road and Bobby stands in George IV Bridge at the top of Candlemaker Row, near the entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard.

 Bum the Dog Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh   Bum the Dog Plaque West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Old Secret Door into Edinburgh Castle 

John Graham 1st Viscount Dundee  climbed up the castle rock to meet with the Duke of Gordon, Governor of Edinburgh Castle in March 1689 and a follower of James VII. John Graham led the Jacobite army at the battle of Killiecrankie in July of 1689 and died in the battle. (see the book Kidnapped by the author Robert Louis Stevenson). Gordon’s greatest success in defeating William of Orange’s government troops in the first Jacobite uprising.

Old Secret Door into Edinburgh Castle The rulers of Scotland from 1371

The Rulers of Scotland from 1371

The Stuarts had ruled Scotland from the 1371 under Robert II, Robert III, James I, James II, James III, James IV, James V, Mary Queen of Scots and in 1603 James VI of Scotland also became James I of England and Ireland. Then came Charles I and Charles II, then James VII of Scotland and James II of England and Ireland, Mary II and finally Anne of Great Britain and Ireland who was the last Stuart monarch. On her death in 1714, George I became king. The Treaty of Union came into effect on 1 May 1707. The Stuarts did not give up and with Bonnie Prince Charlie as a leader he would battle with the English to give the Stuart’s the monarchy back. In 1745 at the battle of Prestonpans the Jacobite’s led by Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated the English and continued on to London to regain the throne. They advanced as far as Derby before returning to Scotland with the might of the whole English army, that had returned from battles in France in pursuit and within 7 months it ended at the battle of Culloden and the final defeat of the Jacobite army and the fight for the throne of Britain for the Stuarts. 

     Plaque Old Secret Door into Edinburgh Castle The rulers of Scotland from 1371

History of the Woodlands and the Gardens 

The inscription on the plaque reads;

During the reign of David 1st (1124 – 1153) this area was used for tournaments, hunting and hawking. Historically it is probable that the landscape would have been dominated by Oak (Quercus robur), Birch (Betula pendula and Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) with some cherry (Prunus avium), Alder (Alnus glutinosa and Elm Ulmus glabra). The area to the east of the bridge illustrates the vegetation of the pine forests of North-East Scotland. The area to the west of the bridgeis typical of the woodland which would have existed  during the reign of David 1st on this type of site. In the middle of the 15th century this area was flooded to form part of the Nor Loch and serve as the northern section of the city’s defences until the mid 18th century. The area was drained between 1790 – 1820 and the Gardens constructed. 

   

  Edinburgh Castle Well House and Tower & St Margaret’s Well

The well house and tower can be found at the foot of the Castle rock at the west end of Princes Street Gardens behind the Norwegian Boulder. There has been water supplied to the Castle from the mid 1000’s. The tower and well-house is named after Malcolm III’s wife, Margaret, later to become Saint Margaret as in the Chapel in the Castle. The Water Tower House could have been built in the mid to late 1300’s and the well as early as 1060.

The inscription on the fountain reads; THE FOUNTAIN OF THE ANCIENT WELLHOUSE TOWER CELEBRATED | IN THE HISTORY OF THE CASTLE | SINCE THE TIME OF | SAINT MARGARET QUEEN OF SCOTLAND IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY

   

ROSS FOUNTAIN PRINCES STREET GARDENS EDINBURGH

The Ross Fountain stands in West Princes Street Gardens with a backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle. This is a well painted and photographed fountain but very few have it actually with water flowing from it. The Ross Fountain is an ornate iron fountain from the 19th Century. Figures depicted on the fountain include mermaids and four females, depicting science, the arts, poetry, and industry. A final female figure stands at the apex of the fountain. It was displayed at The Great Exhibition in London in 1862 where it was seen by philanthropist and gun-maker Daniel Ross, who bought and donated it to the City of Edinburgh. The fountain has been in Edinburgh since 1869. It was transported to Edinburgh from London in pieces and reassembled on its arrival.

Ross Fountain West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

 St Cuthbert R.C. Church West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

St Cuthbert is believed to have founded a church by the side of the Nor Loch at the foot of the Edinburgh Castle Rock which has stood on this site since 850 AD, making it Edinburgh’s oldest church building. History mentions St. Cuthbert’s church as far back as 1127. The Church steeple has been in place since 1789. The famous mathematician and inventor, John Napier is buried in the graveyard. In the graveyard are a number of famous people that help shape Edinburgh. Sir Henry Raeburn Painter, James Donaldson founder of Donaldson’s School, Catherine Sinclair Author and Philanthropist main funder of the Scott Monument. The inscription on the notice board reads; The Parish of St Cuthbert | According to tradition, christian worship has been celebrated continuously on this site for thirteen centuries. It is believed that St Cuthbert himself founded a church that was built by the stream, which became the Nor Loch below the Castle Rock of Edinburgh. Several churches have stood on this ground. The steeple of the present church dates from 1789. The rest of the building was completed in 1894. Among notable people buried in this churchyard are John Napier, inventor of logarithms and Thomas De Quincey, the writer.

 St Cuthbert R.C. Church West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh  

James Young Simpson West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

James Young Simpson (7 June 1811 – 6 May 1870) discovered the anaesthetic power of chloroform and introduced anaesthesia to childbirth. Simpson was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1863. On 4th November, 1847 Simpson first used chloroform. It was first used as an anaesthetic to help ease the pain during childbirth. Queen Victoria used chloroform during the delivery of Prince Leopold in 1853. Simpson was the first man to be knighted by the Scottish Court of the Lord Lyon for services to medicine. “Victo Dolore” (pain conquered) is the inscription on Simpson’s coat of arms. Simpson died at his home in Edinburgh at the age of fifty-eight. A burial spot in Westminster Abbey was offered to his family, but they declined and instead buried Simpson closer to home in Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh. On the day of Simpson’s funeral, a Scottish holiday was declared, including the banks and stock markets, with over 100,000 citizens lining the funeral cortege on its way to the cemetery, while over 1,700 colleagues and business leaders took part in the procession itself. James Young Simpson Lived in 52 Queen Street Edinburgh for over 25 years. His first practice was at 2 Deanhaugh Street in Stockbridge across the road from where he lived with his brother at 1 Raeburn Place above his brother’s bakery.

James Young Simpson Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Thomas Guthrie Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Thomas Guthrie was the founder of the first Ragged Industrial School in Scotland in 1847. His first introduction to the idea of Ragged Schools was in 1841, when he was the Parish Minister of St. John’s Church in Edinburgh. His first school was in Ramsay Lane and was for the poor and destitute children of Edinburgh. Thomas Guthrie died in 1873 and was buried in The Grange Cemetery Edinburgh. Ragged Schools were free education for the poor and homeless children.

Thomas Guthrie Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Scots American War Memorial West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

“The Call 1914”, was erected in 1927 and shows a kilted infantryman looking towards the Castle. Behind the statue is a frieze showing queues of men answering the call by following the pipe band. The memorial was given by Scottish Americans to honour Scots who had served in the First World War. At the bottom of the frieze are lines from E. A. Mackintosh’s poem “A Creed”: ” If it be life that waits I shall live forever unconquered; if death I shall die at last strong in my pride and free.”   “THE CALL 1914”

Scots American War Memorial West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

 

Wojtec the Bear West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Wojtec 1947 – 1963 lived in Edinburgh Zoo for 16 years. Wojtec (little hero) the Siberian bear was adopted by the Polish free army and accompanied them wherever they were deployed. Wojtec became an official member of the Polish Free Army and became a hero at the Battle of Monte Casino in the 2nd World War in 1944. Wojtec was a Brown Bear and died at the age of 21 in Edinburgh Zoo. The memorial can be seen in West Princes Street Gardens beside the path at the Frederick Street entrance. 

Wojtec the Bear West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Royal Scots Greys Memorial Princes Street Edinburgh

 

The statue is of a Royal Scots Dragoon Guard in uniform with bearskin hat. The Memorial Statue was unveiled by the Earl of Rosebery on the 16th November 1906 and can be found in West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh at the foot of Frederick Street. The Royal Scots Greys were a cavalry regiment of the British Army from 1678–1971. Part of their standard is the eagle that was taken from the French standard seized at Waterloo by Sergeant Charles Ewart.The Royal Scots Greys fought along side the Light brigade at the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815. The full story is in The Royal Mile Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle Esplanade and the Royal Mile Booklet read the story of Sergeant Charles Ewart.

The Royal Scots Greys Memorial Princes Street Edinburgh

Ross Bandstand West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh 

The Ross Bandstand in West Princes Street Gardens is a venue for concerts and live music during the Summer and New year Festivals and many other outdoor events , with a capacity to hold 2000 people it is positioned directly under the Edinburgh Castle in West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh.The Ross Bandstand was first built in 1877 and gifted to the city of Edinburgh by William Henry Ross. The current Ross Bandstand and terraced area was redeveloped in 1935 and is in use throughout the year and is the venue for the orchestra for the Festival fireworks displays. An exhibition game of Basketball was also played here in 1948 between the U.S Olympic squad.

Ross Bandstand West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Robert Louis Stevenson Stone West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Robert Louis Stevenson Stone can be found close to the Norwegian boulder in west Princes Street Gardens. There are many memorials to Robert Louis Stevenson all around Edinburgh, his birthplace was Howard Place and he lived with his parents in Heriot Row the family home.

Robert Louis Stevenson Stone West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Norwegian Memorial Boulder Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Norwegian Memorial Boulder is a massive boulder situated a short distance from the Ross Fountain. It was a gift from the Norwegian people to commemorate friendships forged during the Second World War, when large numbers of Norwegians found refuge in Scotland The Norwegian Boulder was unveiled on the 18th September 1978. The inscription on the front of the boulder reads;  During the war years 1940 – 45 | the Norwegian brigade and other army units | were raised and trained in Scotland | here we found hospitality, friendship | and hope during dark years of exile | in grateful memory of our friends and allies | on these isles this stone was erected | in the year 1978.

 Norwegian Memorial Boulder Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Inscription on the back of the boulder reads;The boulder was brought here from Norway | Where it was worn and shaped for thousands of years | by forces of nature, frost, running water, rock, sand and ice | until it obtained its present shape.

Norwegian Memorial Boulder Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Genius of Architecture Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

This statue shows a crowned woman with two male kilted children at her feet. One, shows plans for approval whilst the other kneels to apply mortar to a pillar. It represents the crowning of the theory and practice of Art.

 The Genius of Architecture Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh   The Genius of Architecture Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Allan Ramsay West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Allan Ramsay was a trained Wigmaker and poet.The statue of Allan Ramsay is wearing a night cap, in the act of writing. He holds a book in his left hand and a pencil in his right. He is on a pedestal decorated with portraits of Lord Murray (north side), who had the statue erected in memory of his great uncle, Mrs Ramsay his wife (west side), General Ramsay his father (south side) and Lady Campbell and Mrs Malcolm his daughters (east side). For the last 15 years of his life he lived in Ramsay Lodge an octagonal house on the Castle Hill. Now in Ramsay Garden which was a later development of the Lodge House. The white house is visible on the hill behind the statue on Ramsay Garden. In 1725 he was instrumental in opening the first lending library in the High Street near to St Giles Cathedral. This was the first lending library in Britain. Allan Ramsay Allan Ramsay was born in Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland on 15 October 1686. He died at the age of 71 on 7th January 1758 in Edinburgh. Allan Ramsay was a pioneer in the use of the Scots Language in contemporary poetry. Allan Ramsay first came to Edinburgh at the beginning of the year 1700. Allan first job was a wig maker’s apprentice He established the Jacobite Literary Society in 1712 In his writing he used pen names which were, first Isaac Bickerstaff and then Gawin Douglas, he changed his occupation in 1721 and became a bookseller which he retired from in 1740.  He is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

 Allan Ramsay Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh Behind the statue is West Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle Allan Ramsay Statue West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh In the distance behind the statue can be seen Allan Ramsay's House

Edinburgh’s Floral Clock West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The floral clock is believed to be the oldest floral clock in the world. Edinburgh’s first floral clock was created on this site in 1903 and has been planted annually since. In 1905 a mechanism was added to reproduce the sound of a cuckoo, every fifteen minutes. The sound was produced by two organ bellows and organ pipes, but there was no model cuckoo to be seen. By 1950, the sound of the cuckoo had become almost drowned by the noise of nearby traffic, so a new cuckoo sound system including loudspeaker, was installed. A model cuckoo was also added which appears every fifteen minutes. Each year the gardeners make a new display with flowers to show of the famous Clock. Edinburgh’s Floral Clock in West Princes Street Gardens at the entrance on The Mound, across from the Art Galleries.

 Edinburgh’s Floral Clock West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh   Edinburgh’s Cuckoo Clock West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh  Floral Clock West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The Royal Scots Memorial West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The aim of the monument is to portray in stone and bronze the history of the Regiment from its earliest beginnings to modern times. Follow the medallions around the memorial and read the inscription that runs above the medallions in a continuous panel with a dedicatory quotation taken from the famous declaration of Arbroath. “It is not for glory or riches, neither is it for honour that we fight, but it is for the sake of liberty alone, which no true man loseth, but at the cost of his own life. Given at Arbroath by the Barons, free tenants and the whole community of the Kingdom of Scotland in the year 1320.” The bronze plaque on the left of the picture is the badge of the Regiment.

 Royal Scots Memorial Garden West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh   Royal Scots Memorial Garden West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh Bronze Plaque on left of image is the regimental insignia

The first inscription reads;

THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED UNDER | THE BEQUEST OF CAMPBELL SMITH S.S.C. | EDINBURGH A PIONEER OF THE ROYAL | SCOTS CLUB AND A GREAT FRIEND OF | THE REGIMENT. IT WAS UNVEILED BY | H.R.H THE PRINCESS ROYAL C.I  G.C.V.O. |  G.B.E. T.D. COLONEL-IN-CHIEF ON THE | 26TH OF JULY IN THE FIRST YEAR OF | THE REIGN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II

The second inscription reads; 

ON 28TH MARCH 2006, 373 YEARS TO THE | DAY SINCE KING CHARLES I SIGNED | THE WARRANT TO RAISE THE REGIMENT, | THE ROYAL SCOTS THE ROYAL REGIMENT | MERGED WITH THE OTHER SURVIVING | SCOTTISH INFANTRY REGIMENTS TO FORM | THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF SCOTLAND. | OUR UNBROKEN HISTORY AND SERVICE TO | SOVEREIGN AND COUNTRY LIVES ON IN THE | 1ST BATTALION OF THE NEW REGIMENT.

Royal Scots Memorial Garden West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The inscription reads; 1918 1965 | H.R.H. PRINCESS ROYAL | COLONEL-IN-CHIEF | THE ROYAL SCOTS THE ROYAL | REGIMENT  FOR FORTY SEVEN YEARS | THIS STONE WAS UNVEILED BY | HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN | ON 1ST JULY 1968.

   

The Holocaust Tree West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The holocaust Tree planted beside the Royal Scots Memorial in West Princes Street Gardens is in memory of the 6 million Jews and all other innocent victims of the Holocaust. The Plaque at the foot of the tree reads; Planted by the children of the | Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation | in memory of the six million Jews | and all the other innocent victims | who perished in thee Holocaust | 27 January 2001 | (The first national holocaust day) | 3rd Shevat 5761.

 Holocaust Tree West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Belsen Commemorative Stone West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

The stone laid on the 14th May 1995 is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen Concentration camp by the British Army. In memory of the 6 million Jews and all other innocent victims killed by the Nazi atrocities in the 2nd World War and those who came together in the united forces to liberate Europe from fascism. “May their suffering not have been in vain”.

Belsen Commemorative Stone West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Anne Frank Memorial Tree West Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Planted by the Children of the | Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation | in memory of | ANNE FRANK | who died in Bergen-Belsen | in March 1945 aged 15 years.

Tu B’Shevat (The Jewish New Year for Trees) 5761 | 8th February 2001

Anne Frank was born on 12th June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany of 1933 as the leader of the Nazi Party. Anne Frank and her family moved to Amsterdam to escape the anti-Semitic feelings the Nazi party promoted. In 1940 the Germans invaded Holland and on the 6th July Anne Frank and her family went into hiding. 4 years of Hiding without going outside Anne Frank and her family were found by the German Police on the 4th August 1944. After a short time in the Westerbork transit camp on the 3rd September 1944 they were transferred to Auschwitz concentration camp. Anne Frank her sister and mother were treated as slaves. Anne had her hair shaved of and was tattooed with an identity number.  Anne and her sister were separated from their mother and sent to Belsen Camp. That is where Anne Frank and her sister died. Anne Frank was 15 years old. They were buried in a mass grave. For more on Anne Frank see Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

Link to Lothian Road

Link to The Mound Edinburgh