Gladstone’s Land is actually pretty well at the heart of the Old Town, situated on the section of the Royal Mile that is also called “Lawnmarket” and only a few minutes down the hill from the castle. The name of the house comes from a 17th century merchant Thomas Gledstane who had a shop on the street level. ( Apparently there is no known connection between him and the prime minister of the same name). The National Trust run the property and their website gives a few photographs of the interior. Some of the most interesting aspects are the very well preserved painted ceilings – even the Gallery space has a painted ceiling and some faint traces of original wall stencils. For a visitor to Edinburgh this building will give you a good impression of life in 17th Century Edinburgh and forms a good contrast with the other recreated interior in the new town – the Georgian House. You can easily spot the building because of the golden hawk hovering over the street – a reference to the scottish word “gled” meaning “hawk” – and the arches at street level which would have provided a shop front for Thomas Gledstane.
From this spot you can easily reach one of Edinburgh’s most attractive streets, Victoria street which curves down to the Grassmarket. After a year or so of “rearrangement” the Grassmarket is now looking ready for summer with more space for outside markets and performances. There are quite a few interesting shops and cafes in this area – highlights are the Edinburgh institution “Armstrongs” ( a “vintage emporium” which really deserves a post all of its own – ) , Bill Baber a knitwear designer with a very distinctive style and the quirky little bookshop with a focus on all things graphic Analogue. I should also give K1 Yarns a mention – a newish Woolshop that looks very inviting and colourful and hosts knitting groups on a Thursday evening. Tomorrow I’ll do a little round up of favourite cafes in the area.