White Horse Close Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh

white horse close canongate royal mile edinburgh

The original owner of the land where White Horse Close stands was a Laurance Ord who built houses stables and a tavern (Ord’s Tavern) in a courtyard that was gated to the south and was named Laurance Ord’s Close. This was once where the Royal Mews was situated and Queen Mary kept her Horse which was a palomino (White Horse). The origin of the close being called White Horse Close. Laurance Ord sold the land and buildings to a John Mitchell in 1695 and he then sold it on to Nicol Graham in 1745 who in turn sold it on to John Davidson in 1752. 

On the walls in White Horse Close look for the plaques of William Dick founder of the Edinburgh veterinary college (The Royal Dick Vet) and Ord’s Tavern. The plaque can be found on the wall of the house at the back of the courtyard where the Inn was. This area was also said to have been used in 1745 by the officers of the Jacobite army prior to the battle of Prestonpans lead by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

 WHITEHORSE CLOSE CANONGATE ROYAL MILE EDINBURGH    Ord's Tavern White Horse Clse Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh  


The White Horse Inn at the back of White Horse Close (Ord’s Tavern) in the Canongate is where a plaque denotes that this was the first point when leaving by coach to London. This is not correct as records show that the coaches left from the Head of the Canongate, there is a White Horse Inn at the top of the Canongate which is connected to Boyd’s Entry and Boyd’s Close in St Mary Street or White Horse Close as it was often Called. There once was an entrance in the Canongate Boyd’s Close now Gullan’s Close and an entrance from Boyd’s Entry as there had to be stables for the horses and a place for the coaches Boyd’s Entry is the original starting point for the coach and horses. There are a number of plaques that have been put up stating this, also when Boyd advertised the Inn for sale, it was advertised with stables for 100 horses and 20 coaches. The first coaches set of for London in 1712.  




The Royal Dick Veterinary College  known locally as the Dick Vet is now home to Edinburgh’s newest and biggest arts and science venue. Summerhall is open to the public all year round and there are theatre and gallery spaces, libraries and small museums, studios and workshops. There is also a Café and Bar.  The Royal Dick veterinary College is part of the University of Edinburgh and is on the Bush campus. The original site was where one of the first of the many breweries in Edinburgh was opened. You can find out the history of the site and building on your visit. You can also see a working micro-Brewery and taste the beer if over 18 years old. William Dick founder of the Edinburgh veterinary college (The Royal Dick Vet) It was first situated in Clyde Street (now Multrees Walk) in 1823 a customised Veterinary Building was constructed in 1833 on the same location. William Dick died in 1866 and a new purpose built college open on the south side of Edinburgh at Summerhall in 1923. were it remained until closed and relocated to the Bush estate near Penicuik part of the University of Edinburgh’s Veterinary Campus. 

Summerhall Royal Dick Vet Edinburgh


The founder of the Edinburgh Veterinary College William Dick was born in 1793 in White Horse Close in the Canongate. William Dick was educated at Mr Kesson’s school in Shakespeare Square which was located at the east end of Edinburgh at the foot of the North Bridge. The square was demolished in 1860. The first veterinary College was in  Clyde Street on the site of where the present bus station is now. The College moved to the site of Summerhall, William Dick the Veterinary Science department is now at the Bush Estate. In 1906, the College was named the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College and became part of the University of Edinburgh in 1951.


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