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White Horse Close

Located towards its eastern end the Canongate, not far from Holyrood Palace, is one of the most picturesque closes (or passageways) of Edinburgh's Old Town. Despite its 'olde-worlde' appearance, most of White Horse Close is rather more recent than the 1623 date it displays. In fact this date-stone was modified in the 1930s, having previously recorded an implausible 1523.

Originally, White Horse Close was probably the site of the Palace stables and may have been named after Mary, Queen of Scots, favourite white mount. From the 17th Century it was the site of an inn which was the terminus for the coach service to London. It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stuart's officers were quartered when they entered Edinburgh in 1745. The close was rebuilt as worker's houses in 1889 and completely reconstructed in the vernacular style by Frank Mears & Partners (1961-4). The result is described by Gifford et. al. in the Edinburgh volume of the 'Buildings of Scotland' as "so blatantly fake that it can be acquitted of any intention to deceive", but remains a small fantasy worth experiencing.

Born here was William Dick (1793 - 1866), founder of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Science (now part of the University of Edinburgh).


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