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Edinburgh, 79 - 81 Canongate, Golfer's Land

House (17th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 79 - 81 Canongate, Golfer's Land

Classification House (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) John Paterson's House

Canmore ID 52351

Site Number NT27SE 323

NGR NT 26604 73870

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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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

NT27SE 323 26606 73865

See also NT27SE 324 and 325.


Five storeyed house with harled walls and a large gable with moulded skews facing the street, once known as John Paterson's House.

This Category A building was demolished in 1960. Information from NMRS Demolitions catalogue.


Publication Account (1951)

95. Golfer's Land, 81 Canongate.

This house is known as the Golfer's Land on account of the tradition that it was built by John Paterson, shoemaker and bailie, with his share of the stakes won in a golf match in which he partnered King James VII and II, at that time Duke of York. It is an irregularly-shaped 17th-century block and presents its gable to the street. Built throughout of harled rubble, with back-set and chamfered dressings exposed at the openings and moulded skews, it is five storeys in height with an attic and garret in addition. Through the centre runs the entry to Brown's Close. At the S.E. corner rises a stair tower, apparently part of a vanished building, which exhibits towards the street a panel bearing an inscription in 18th-century lettering, recently renewed.* It is said to be from the pen of Dr. Pitcairne, and reads :





("When Paterson who, in succession to nine ancestors who had been champions, himself won the championship in the Scots' own game, he began to raise on high from the ground this house, which all alone produced so many champions.") The verses are followed by the words I HATE NO PERSON, an anagram of "John Patersone."

Immediately below the wall-head of the tower is an armorial panel within a moulded border. The shield, surmounted by helm, mantling and a now indecipherable crest, which is said to have been a hand grasping a golf-club, is charged: Three pelicans in piety, on a chief three mullets, for Paterson. Beneath the shield is a scrolled cartouche on which there was probably a motto. The E. elevation, now exposed by the removal of adjoining buildings, is also gabled and has a massive central chimney-stalk flanked by crow-steps. The windows seem to be later insertions. The N. or back elevation, which rises three storeys and an attic above the pend, has a crow-stepped half-gable rising from the wall-head to abut on the buildings flanking the W., and only surviving, side of Brown Close. These buildings, which comprise an oblong range four storeys and an attic in height, are alsobuilt of harled rubble, at one time colour-washed. Near the outer, or N., end a modern stair-tower of brick projects eastwards to serve the N. half of the range, which had previously been entered from a balcony. Access to the upper floors of the S. end of the range, as well as to those of the front building, is gained from an internal scale-and-platt stair situated at the junction of the two buildings; the. staircase, which has a solid newel embellished with semi-shafts at each end, has been extended in wood in modern times. Its entrance from Brown's Close had a bold roll-moulding, but this now survives only on the lintel. Internally both buildings have been considerably altered and contain little of interest, although a few of the original moulded stone fireplaces remain in position.

RCAHMS 1951, visited c.1941

*In a recent re-cutting HATE has become HALE. During the 19th century REDEMITVS, EDUCEBAT and TVLIT were read respectively as REDEMITOS, EDUCEBIT and TVLET.


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