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Abbey Strand

Abbey Strand, Holyrood Palace
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Abbey Strand, Holyrood Palace

The Abbey Strand is a short street, lying immediately outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which represents the very last section of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. It represented the extent of the precincts of Holyrood Abbey (the ruins of which stand next to the palace) and hence the boundary of 'sanctuary', which is still marked by brass studs and the letter 'S' in the road. Fugitives took refuge in the Strand, although mostly it was debtors who sought the protection of the area, a practice which continued until 1880, when debtors prisons were abolished. The author and 'opium eater' Thomas De Quincey (1785 - 1859) regularly took advantage of the privilege between 1833 and 1840. Their stay would not have been entirely unpleasant since there were various taverns in the vicinity.

Today the buildings which remain in the Strand date from the 16th and 17th centuries and include a fine example of a refurbished fore-stair. On the old Abbey Courthouse Wall is a fine restored panel bearing the arms of Scotland and the monogram of King James IV.


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