Sunday, May 12, 2024

Edinburgh, Scotland, Part One

Edinburgh, which is the capital city of Scotland, was also the last place we visited on the wonderful Cosmos Tour we took in October of 2023 of "The Highlights of Ireland and Scotland." 

Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, the highest courts in Scotland, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. It is also the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The city has long been a center of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, law, literature, philosophy, the sciences, and engineering. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582 and now one of three in the city, is considered one of the best research institutions in the world. It is the second-largest financial center in the United Kingdom, the fourth-largest in Europe, and the thirteenth-largest internationally.

On our first day in Edinburgh, our bus tour took us through an area of Edinburgh called the New Town. This area was built in stages between 1767 and around 1850 and retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian period architecture. A special knowledgeable guide joined us on the bus that day to provide commentary on what we were seeing outside our windows.

We passed stately Georgian-style row homes. Many famous people once lived in New Town: J.M. Barre, the author of Peter Pan, Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series of novels, as well as the present official residence of the First Minister of Scotland at Bute House.

Our bus stopped at this home with the red door, 8 Howard Place, and our guide told us this was once the home of the Scottish novelist, essayist, poet, and travel writer Robert Lewis Stevenson!  Stevenson is best known for works such as Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped and A Child's Garden of Verses.

Our guide told us that Stevenson was sickly as a child with a bronchial condition, and was often confined in bed. His bedroom window was facing the street, and much of his boyhood life had to be imagined, as reflected in his book of poems written in 1885 from the viewpoint of a child, A Child's Garden of Verses which he dedicated to his childhood nurse, Alison Cunningham.

Our guide then began to read one of his poems called The Lamplighter...see the video below

by Robert Lewis Stevenson

"My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;
It’s time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa’s a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I’m to do,
Oh Leerie, I’ll go round at night and light the lamps with you!

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! Before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!"

This residence was once the residence of a British surgeon, Lord Joseph Lister. ( 1827 -1912)

Lord Joseph Lister was the founder of antiseptic medicine and aseptic surgery, and Regius Professor of Clinical Surgery.
Lister came to Edinburgh in 1853 after graduating in medicine in London. He worked closely with James Syme, the celebrated Professor of Surgery in Edinburgh, becoming his assistant and marrying his daughter.

In 1860 he was appointed to the Chair of Surgery in Glasgow, and it was there that he first applied Louis Pasteur’s recent discoveries about the role of airborne bacteria in fermentation to the prevention of infection in surgery. In 1866 he introduced carbolic acid as an antiseptic, to kill airborne bacteria and prevent their transmission into wounds from the air of the operating theater.
In 1869 he returned to Edinburgh as successor to Syme as Professor of Surgery and continued to develop improved methods of antisepsis and asepsis, with greatly reduced infection rates.

Our tour guide gave us some more information about Lord Dr. Lister in the video below:

Another interesting home we saw was this one with the blue door. It is called The Georgian House, which is an 18th-century townhouse situated at No. 7  Charlotte Square.  It has been restored and furnished by the National Trust for Scotland and is operated as a popular tourist attraction.

Our guide also told us that many buildings in Edinburgh, particularly around Dundas Street, had boarded-up windows because the practice of concealing windows links back to a 1696 tax called the "window tax," where people were taxed according to how many windows their residence contained. So to avoid paying the levy, some people blocked up one or two of their windows.  

Upon further research however, I learned that the window tax was repealed in 1851,  and this website tells the real reason why--the windows were placed externally for symmetry, but behind them are architectural elements like chimneys, so the tax reason is a myth.

Our tour then drove us around Edinburgh's Old Town. The Old Town is the name popularly given to the oldest part of Edinburgh. The area has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings. Together with the 18th/19th-century New Town, and West End, it forms part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site The city had a very magical quality to it and I could see how author J.K. Rowling was inspired to write the majority of the Harry Potter books when she lived a while in Edinburgh to be near her sister.

The many spires and Old Town is also the location of many modern buildings as well as museums, shops, and eateries -- so much to do and see!   It is definitely a place I'd like to visit again someday.

One thing I noticed was all the interesting statues all around Edinburgh. I would need to have been on a walking tour to be able to identify them all, but I managed to capture photos of them from my tour bus window!

Edinburgh Castle--click on the photo to enlarge it.

Our tour bus was now going to drive us up the hill to visit Edinburgh Castle where we would enter and continue as a walking tour... to be continued on my next blog post.


diane b said...

It sure is an enchanting city. We were there for the Edinburgh festival

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat,
Wonderful photos from your visit to Scotland.
My favorite is the view of the castle!
Take care, have a great day and a happy week!

ellen b. said...

Great shots! Edinburgh is packed with history as are so many places in the UK! Happy new week to you!

Joanne said...

OH wow; I just love all that old world charm and architecture. Those boarded up windows/ window taxes are so interesting!

Rambling Woods said...

Oh, I love hearing the accent. my great aunts came from Scotland and I loved hearing their stories…

stevebethere said...

Another nice post and photos I have been to Edinburgh in the 70's it took 6 hours on the coach from London, I couldn't believe at the time how late it got dark there heheh!

Have a haggistastic week Pat 👍

Lydia C. Lee said...

I was meant to go to Ed Fest with a friend last year but we didn't hav ethe money in the end. Very disappointing. #WWOAT

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I grew up hearing Child's Garden of Verses and then of course Treasure Island later so it would be wonderful to see RLS's house....and nowadays I seem to always be reading something from one of several different series set in Edinburgh... it looks from your pictures as it sounds in the books a fascinating city. .... I remember learning about the Window Tax when we were in England, Bath I think.

April Stephens said...

This is so cool! My ancestors migrated from Scotland to America, so I'm extra interested to see Scothland.

Lillian "sognafaret" said...

My doughter is there no for the hollyday

Jennifer Wise said...

I'm in awe! What a beautiful place. I loved tagging along via your pictures and videos. I'd love to go there some day. Visiting from Talking About it Tuesdays.

Jeanie said...

I'll look forward to more on Edinburgh. We're considering it for our fall trip but I'm worried about my mobility in what I've heard is a very hilly city. How is the mass transit?

EricaSta said...

I love the Story! What a wonderful City. I hope one day we can visit too. Another round of MosaicMonday in beautiful May... and I am very happy about your contribution. More pictures this week that tell the story of your surroundings, of nature, of your everyday life. Pictures that also tell a story.

Thank you for your participation. Have a good time, best wishes from Heidrun

Spare Parts and Pics said...

A beautiful, historic city. I love the architecture!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Beautiful post of Edinburgh, It does indeed look like a magical town. I love all your great photos of the place. It looks very nice in its fall colors. Amazing how many famous people are from there.

Aimz said...

It's a city that's part of my ancestry, definitely on my list of places to visit.

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Wonderful photos of your trip.

Photo Cache said...

Again, I must say how wonderful this must have been for you. thanks for sharing your photos.

Worth a Thousand Words

likeschocolate said...

You captured the city so perfectly!

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely post and photographs.
Edinburgh has so much history.

All the best Jan

Michelle said...

A beautiful city and you captured it well. I love the architecture. Thank you for linking up and have a great week.