Sunday, 27 March 2011

Short Break

Yesterday, Malcolm and I returned after a few days away in Edinburgh.  The weather was very kind to us - remarkable for this time of year.  We arrived early on Wednesday morning to cloudy skies, but it was quite warm, so we had most of the day to explore.  We started off from our Hotel, down the Royal Mile towards the Palace of Holyrood House.  First was the building of the Old Free Church of Scotland.
Built in 1850, it is no longer used as a church, being turned into a maintenance workshop for the Palace close by.  Attached to the Church building is the Abbey Courthouse, now used by the High Constables of Holyrood House.
The heraldic panel fixed to the wall is the cypher and arms of King James V. It was originally fixed above the entrance to the Gatehouse.  The outline of the Gothic Porch and Gatehouse, built in1502, are still visible. Both were demolished in 1753 by the Keeper of the Palace.
According to legend, the Abbey was built as the Monastery of the Holy Rood (or cross) by King David I.  The Sanctuary was a defined area, five miles in circumference, taking in most of Holyrood Park. Those in need of 'protection' (petty criminals mostly who could find themselves at risk of hanging for stealing), applied to the Baillie of the Abbey.  These 'tenants' were eventually accommodated in buildings erected around the Palace and Abbey, and thereafter called Abbey Lairds.
In 1880 a law was passed which meant that debtors could no longer be imprisoned. Sanctuary of this nature then became unnecessary.  The Sanctuary building is now used as a gift shop for the palace.
More to come...
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