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Edinburgh, 66 High Street, Strichen's Close

Tenement (Medieval)

Site Name Edinburgh, 66 High Street, Strichen's Close

Classification Tenement (Medieval)

Canmore ID 52330

Site Number NT27SE 304

NGR NT 2601 7365

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Architecture Notes


Strichen's Close is given as Lord Streighan's Close on Edgar 1742. Also Lord Strichen's or Strachan's Close, the name was from Alexander Fraser of Strichen, who sat in the Court of Session as Lord Strichen, and probably acquired his house in the close through his marriage in 1731 with Anne Campbell, widow of the 2nd Earl of Bute, grandson of its former owner Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (1630-91) king's advocate under Charles II, notorious as "Bluidy Mackenzie" in putting down Covenanters, but also the founder of the Advocate's Library. Hence the alternative close names MacKenzie's Close or Rosehaugh's Close, still in use a century after his time. In 1635 it is listed as Walter Mawer's Close, deriving from Walter Mawer, a writer in Edinburgh in 1593, and his son M(aister) Walter Mawer, advocate, who succeeded him in 1614. The father evidently acquired his house in the close through his marriage with Margaret Vaus, for Thomas Vaus, merchant in Edinburgh, had bought the "Abbot of Melrose ludgeing" in the West side of the close in 1588. This mansion, the residence of all the subsequent chief owners in the close, is described in Wilson as a large and substantial medieval building, greatly altered in about 1600 -no doubt by Walter and Margaret Mawer. It was the house of Andrew Durie, abbot from 1528 until his death (from shock at a Protestant riot, says Knox) in 1588; but the name Melrose or Abbot of Melrose Close (still in use in mid eighteenth century) probably goes back to the early fifteenth century, for the abbey's land here, mentioned in RMS (Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, Vols I-XI) 1444 and 1473, seems to be that referred to in a grant noted in RMS 1390-1406. (from Stuart Harris, "Place Names of Edinburgh", 1996, pages 589-90)

Edinburgh, 64-78 High Street and Strichen's Close, 66 High Street which were Category B Listed were demolished in 1965-66. Information from RCAHMS Miscellaneous catalogue, Demolitions.


Draught transcript of testament of Walter Mawer, Abbot of Melrose. Ref no:- CC 8./42, folio 340a -text


Publication Account (1951)

37. Strichen's Close, 66 High Street.

At the S. end of the Close is a small irregularly-shaped court. The southern most building, of two storeys above the court but of three more at the back where the ground falls away, dates from the 17th century but has since then been extensively altered. Above the entrance to a modern projection within the court there has been inserted an armorial panel, in which the shield is flanked by two sets of initials, W Mand M W, with the date 1600. The shield itself is parted per pale and charged: Dexter, a chevron between two mullets in chief and a crescent in base; sinister, on a bend between two cinquefoils, three mullets. The arms and initials are, in all probability, those of Waiter Mawer, Writer to the Signet, and of his wife, Marion Waus (1). In the original front wall of the building is a moulded doorway of the late 17th century. The only features of interest inside the building are the well of a newel-stair and one end of a large and lofty vaulted cellar, which may be as early as the 16th century, and may possibly represent a remnant of the mansion of the Abbots of Melrose. Here, at a later time, dwelt Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, Senator of the College of Justice and founder of what is now the National Library, whose tomb in Greyfriars Churchyard is recorded on p. 66. His grandson's widow married Alexander Fraser, Lord Strichen, in 1731, and since then the Close has gone under its present name.

RCAHMS 1951.

(1) Mawer and his wife were infefted in the tenement, or great inn (magnum hospitium), of Thomas Waus of Petterwaick, sometime pertaining to the Abbot of Melrose. (Protocol of Alexander Guthrie, 12/4/1587, and Minutes of the Town Council,18/11/1629.)


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