Fountain Close

The book, 'Old Edinburgh' which included 103 James Drummond engravings was published in  1879.  Here are the descriptions of the two Fountain Close pictures in this book:


The west side of Fountain Close

looking towards the High Street

Lithograph  -  Fountain Close

The drawing represents the picturesque tenements at the north end of the Close, with the covered entrance from the High Street. Two of these have the front wall of the lower floor of stone, and those above of timber.

On the west side, is the entrance to a stair leading to the house supposed to have been the residence of Thomas Bassendyne, the old Scottish typographer, who, in conjunction with Alexander Arbuthnot, printed and published the famous folio known as Bassendyne's Bible, the first Bible printed in Scotland.

The New Testament portion was finished and dated 1576, but its issue was delayed till the Old Testament was finished in 1579. Arbuthnot and Bassendyne were both Burgesses of Edinburgh, the former a man of means, the latter a practical printer, who had learned his business in Paris and Leyden.

Towards the end of last century, this Close was the principal entrance from the High Street to the Episcopal Chapel in the Cowgate, which at that time, was the most fashionable place of worship belonging to that body.

Episcopacy, after having been for some time established in Scotland, was abolished in 1689, but its adherents enjoyed the privilege of assembling in meeting-houses.

These were small, exceedingly plain in appearance, and ultimately they did not afford the accommodation required. A committee of gentlemen was therefore appointed to make arrangements for erecting a commodious place of worship.

A site was obtained near the Cowgate, upon a portion of the garden attached to the Marquis of Tweeddale's mansion, and the building commenced on 5th April 1771.

So rapidly did the work proceed, that public worship was celebrated in it on the 10th October 1774. The chapel is large, containing 1700 sittings. Upon the ceiling, over the altar, was a fine painting of the Ascension by Runciman.

It was sold early in the present century, and after being used as a church by several dissenting bodies, was ultimately acquired by the Roman Catholics, and is now occupied as one of their places of worship.

This view shows the west side of the Close from the interior, looking towards
the high Street.



The west side of Fountain Close

looking towards the Cowgate

Fountain's Close  -  drawing by James Drummond, 1853

Derives its name from a fountain or large well, situated either in the close, or within the tenement at the head of it, but which has disappeared with the introduction of improved drainage. It is upon the south side of the High Street, and nearly opposite John Knox's house.

On the east side of the close is the entrance to the house of Adam Fullerton, whose name, and that of Marjorie Roger, are neatly carved upon the lintel of the double doorway, with the following inscriptions: ONLY BE CRYST and ARYS O LORD; also VINCIT VERITAS and the date 1573.

He was one of the Bailies of Edinburgh in 1561, and took a prominent part in the cause of the Reformation. He represented the city in the General Assembly held in 1571, and in the same year was made captain of the band of disaffected citizens who favoured the Regent Mar.

He was therefore denounced "our souerane ladie's rebell", and "put to the horne" His house, being forfeited to Mar's party, who were posted on the opposite height of St John's Hill. It seems it sustained "litill or no skaith" in the contest, for it was soon after his return that Fullerton decorated its lintels with the VINCIT VERITAS above mentioned.

Ultimately, his house and honours were restored, and he was chosen a burgess of the Parliament which met in the Tolbooth in 1573.

This view shows the west side of the Close from the High Street entrance,
looking towards the Cowgate.


Thank you to Ronald Jonker, Conondale Queensland, Australia for providing the descriptions above.

Fountain's Close