At the top of Fleshmarket Close, there’s a bit more sky to light the scene – but a well placed street light helps provide some focus.
Back to some Edinburgh street photography yesterday, after a long break. There is someting gruesome about Fleshmarket close, and not just because of the Ian Rankin novel of the same name. While it’s right in the middle of Edinburgh’s tourist honeypot, it does come with some noteriety.
The close is named after the meat market that existed here, when it was a close that led down to a slaughterhouse on Nor’Loch. The loch is long since drained and is not Waverely Railway station and Princes Street Garden’s.
It’s a good place to get some subject lighting, from the lights around the pub.
Are you bowed down in heart?
Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
Here bathe your soul in silence.
Deep in the Quiet Wood James Weldon Johnson
Francis, Andrew and Annie.
This most simple of stones was only 15 – 20 centimetres tall, and sitting on it’s own. I pressume its a childrens’ grave – but there is no sign of any family nearby and no space for dates or ages.
One of the fantastic things about so much infromation being available on-line is that one can piece together stories of those in cemetries. Perhaps it takes away from just imagining their lives, but personally I find it adds to the story.
Helen Cecilia Thomson, married Benjamin Bell in 1827. Her brother, James Gibson Thomson, married her sister-in-law, Grace Hamiton Bell in 1831. Benjamin died in the Isle of Man in 1843, with Helen living until she was 73 in the 1870’s.
James ran the family’s wines and spirit merchant business based at The Vaults in Leith, now the home of the Scottish Malt Whisky Society.
Warriston Cemetry has a number of Commonwealth War Graves that have been cleared of the surrounding undergrowth.
Archibald Douglas McLaggan was only 19 years old when he died in 1916. His parents lived at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh.
Another from Warriston Cemetry. This family name is well known and lives on with generations of Edinburgers. Sir James Young Simpson (1811 – 1870), or at least his surname, is best known for it’s association with Edinburgh’s principal maternity hospital. This tulip, I think – I’m not very good with flowers, almost radiated light from it’s centre, and sat within the monument that marks Simpson’s grave.
1/250, f/11, ISO160.
Simpson was a pioneer in the use of choloform in obstetric anaesthesia and at a time before the NHS would provide support to the poor. However even as a well to do Baronet and Obstetrician his family were not immune to the harshness of the age. The grave shows three of his children dying at ages 2, 3 and 15 years.
When Simpson died, it is reported that two thousand mourners followed the cortege, and 50,000 people lined the streets of Edinburgh.
These old cemetries are the resting palce for the entire social spectrum from a traceless mother with no name and a simple stone, through to this family, whose legacy appears in substantial stonework, the public record and in the history books. In this case, quite literally in ‘history’ books.
1/200, f/5.0, ISO160
Adam Black created a publishing firm A&C Black (now part of Bloomsbury), that in his lifetime published three editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica and Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, twice served as Lord Provost of the city and was it’s MP for nine years. It’s little wonder his grave is marked with somewhat more panache than the unknown mother. But his legacy is perhaps not the most significant of Warriston’s residents. More about who that is in a couple of days.
Tucked between the Water of Leith and Ferry Road is Warriston Cemetry. It is an overgrown cemetry with many ruinous stones and monuments. This was an unusual stone, simply saying “MOTHER” on a plain cross. It long ago had fallen off it’s plinth and is now embedded in the undergrowth, and there were no other clues of who mother was.
1/250, f/5.0, ISO160
Edinburgh has a few overgrown cemetries. A number of cemetries were created under private ownership in the 19th Century. Many of these fell into disrepair during the 70’s and 80’s – all to be compulrsory purchased by the city council in the 90’s.
Allowing these sites and memorials to become so dilapidated is disrespectul, however I find them uniquely contemplative spaces.