St Andrew Square

(St Andrew's Square)

Located at the E end of George Street and intended as the mirror of Charlotte Square in the W, is St. Andrew Square (originally, but often now incorrectly, referred to as St. Andrew's Square). However, it lacks the architectural unity of its pair. Soon after it was laid out, the Square became one of the most desirable residential addresses in the city, but by the end of the 19th century it had become the commercial centre of the city. In more recent times, housing was confined to the northern side, with major offices of banks, insurance companies and commercial developments occupying much of the rest of the Square. For many years it became one of the major financial centres of the country.

From its beginnings in 1768, St. Andrew Square did not work out quite as James Craig (1744-95) had planned it. The intention had been for St. Andrew's Church to lie on its E side looking along George Street to its twin St. George's on Charlotte Square (laid out from 1792). However, Sir Lawrence Dundas (1712-81), a wealthy businessman, preferred the site for his home and bought the ground before Craig's plan could be implemented. Thus, St. Andrew's Church had to be built part-way along George Street, and its place was taken by Dundas House, built by Sir William Chambers (1723-96) and for a long time the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The E side of the square was also home to the headquarters of the British Linen Bank and the National Bank of Scotland, until both were taken over, by the Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank respectively. The former was built in 1851 by David Bryce (1803-76) and is now the Gleneagles Townhouse, while the latter was built in 1936. The plethora of insurance companies have generally chosen more modern buildings.

In the centre of the square is the Melville Monument, in memory of Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville (1742 - 1811), surrounded by St. Andrew Square Gardens. Famous residents of St. Andrew Square included philosopher David Hume (1711-76), who lived at No.8 and politician, reformer and inventor Henry Brougham (1778 - 1868), who was born at No.21. No.35 was built by Robert Adam (1728-92) and is the oldest in the square. It was the former Douglas Hotel patronised by Sir Walter Scott, Queen Victoria and Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, while she consulted obstetrician Sir James Young Simpson in 1860.

To the east of the square is Edinburgh's principal bus station and a major shopping complex.

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