Wardrop's Court, Lawnmarket.
Me doing the tourist thing and grabbing a wee selfie, Lawnmarket is the street where the linen was sold at market hence the name., te close here is near Deacon Brodies and the court leads on to Makar’s Court and the Writers Museum in Lady Stair's House as seen in pic two. Wardrop Court was previously Middle Baxter’s Close and the John Wardrop built a tenement in the court and called it Wardrop’s Court with the entrance archway Wardrop’s Close..
Lady Stair’s House.
One, so called architectural expert described this as “…picturesque Arts & Crafts confection, with…vigorously unreal stonework”.
However the building celebrates 400 years of history this year and represents a remarkable survival from the past.
The house was built in 1622 by Sir William Gray of Pittendrum, a very successful city merchant. At that time it was common for the wealthy to live tucked away down one of the hundreds of narrow passageways known as closes, away from the bustle and noise of the main street.
Sir William Gray’s fortunes turned dramatically during the Civil War in the 1640s. He was fined and later imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for his connections with royalists. Then, in 1645, his daughter died of the plague.
Sir William himself died in 1648, but his wife continued to live there for many years, and eventually the close leading to the house became known as Lady Gray’s Close in her honour. It kept that name until around 1719 when Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Stair, bought the building and so the close and house took on her name.
By the 1890’s, Lady Stair’s House was in a very bad condition, and was earmarked for demolition. It was saved in 1893 when the house was bought by Lord Rosebery, a direct descendant of Sir William Gray. The restoration was carried out by George Shaw Aitken, and greatly altered the building. Sections on the north, south and west had to be demolished, creating the stand-alone house we see today.
The romantic looking turret was added about this time, following the newly fashionable ‘Scotch baronial’ style of architecture. However many original features were retained. The main room on the first floor has an impressive fireplace from the 17th century building. Over the main entrance a carved stone lintel can also be seen, with the date 1622 and the initials of Sir William Gray and his wife Geida Smith.
Makar is the Scots' word for poet or skilled writer so the courtyard, outside the Writers' Museum, celebrates the literary history of Edinburgh. The pic is from the North side entrance up to the courtyard and the quote, Freedom is a Noble Thing, -is by John Barbour,’s biography The Brus, Barbour is the earliest known Makar to have written in vernacular Scots, and so has been claimed as the Father of Scottish poetry.
More of the close in the next few days I better catch some sleep, I’m climbing a mountain in the morning, but don’t worry have scheduled a few posts.