This week we are venturing over into the Georgian New Town of Edinburgh. These photos are all taken on the first block of Hanover Street as we walk away from Princes Street. In contrast to Edinburgh’s Old Town, the New Town was one of the first planned city centres, and it is laid out on a geometric grid. The streets are wide and the buildings all in perfect proportion. Compared to the higgelty piggelty squeeze of the old city centre, this new part of town was elegant and spacious, and for the first time people with money could live with a bit of distance between themselves and the squalid poor.
This first block of Hanover Street became part of the heart of the merchant driven wealth of Edinburgh, and Merchants Hall is a beautiful building, decorated with seahorses to reflect wealth from the oceans waves. It has been home to The Edinburgh Merchant Company since the Nineteenth Century, with its motto ‘Terraque Marique’, ‘By land and by Sea’.
Hanover Street is also home to The Royal Society of Edinburgh, which has been Scotland’s academy of science and letters since 1783. It represents the broadest selection of disciplines of all of the Royal Societies in the UK, founded in the midst of the intellectual fever of the Scottish Enlightenment, and by bringing together leading thinkers in many fields it published ground breaking works. During the 19th Century it produced many scientists whose ideas laid the foundations for many of todays sciences.
I always find it incredible that so many brilliant thinkers were all working and researching here in Scotland. The roots of much of what we call science today were birthed in these historic Edinburgh buildings, and the societies they housed. Taking the time to stop and notice these places reveals many interesting facts which could so easily be rushed past and missed on the way to the consumer driven attractions of Edinburghs shops.