Whilst walking through Leith recently – as part of the Sunny Leith guided walk – see www.edinburghwalks.com – I took the opportunity to call in to the churchyard of South Leith Parish Church. Seeing me there, I was invited into the church itself by a member of the congregation and given a private viewing.
The Church sits to the north of the New Kirkgate Shopping Centre and has been a centre of history in the area for some time. On this ground a chapel dedicated to St.Mary was built in 1483, but the present buildings exterior was built in 1848. Between these dates English armies have been present to attack the Port of Leith on a couple of occasions, either to force a marriage between Mary Queen of Scots and King Henry VIII of England’s son or to push out a French force who were holding Leith. In fact the Coat of Arms of Mary of Guise (Mary Queen of Scots’ mother) and that of Mary Queen of Scots are set in stone within the West doorway and these probably came from the Palace of Mary of Guise which was in Rotten Row, present day Water Street. The building was also used as a prison at one point. After 1560 the congregation changed hands to the present Church of Scotland.
On the inside I was really impressed by the beautiful hammer beam roof.
Come with me next time to Sunny Leith and we may get inside again………….