Step back into 1745 and Jacobite-occupied Edinburgh

The story of the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh will unfold in the capital’s streets this summer.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 4:55 am
Bonnie Prince Charlie Entering the Ballroom at Holyroodhouse, by John Pettie. The leader of the Jacobite army caused a stir when he arrived in the capital in September 1745 with the city the nerve centre of the rising for six weeks. PIC: Royal Collections Trust.
Bonnie Prince Charlie Entering the Ballroom at Holyroodhouse, by John Pettie. The leader of the Jacobite army caused a stir when he arrived in the capital in September 1745 with the city the nerve centre of the rising for six weeks. PIC: Royal Collections Trust.

Michael Nevin author and an authority on Jacobite history, will lead walking tours of the Old Town to relive the six weeks in autumn 1745 when the capital became the nerve centre of Charles Edward Stuart’s rising.

Mr Nevin said the occupation was the “most dramatic six weeks in the long history of the capital”.

He added: "The fate of the monarchy and the future of the nation was at stake. Although more than half more than two half centuries ago, thanks to the preservation of the Old Town as a World Heritage Site it would be instantly recognisable to any Jacobite returning today."

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When the Jacobites took over the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived in Edinburgh on September 17 1745, when 20,000 people lined the streets for a glimpse of the Jacobite leader as he rode into the Palace of Holyrood House to set up court in the former home of his ancestors.

Mr Nevin, who will assume the guise of key Jacobite Donald Cameron of Lochiel for the walks, has included 10 locations of the occupation in his foray through the city streets.

The tour starts at the Netherbow Port, just outside the World's End pub, which was broached by the Jacobites just before dawn on Tuesday, September 17th 1745.

It will then head up the High Street to Tron Kirk, where three days earlier members of the Edinburgh Defence Volunteers – the local "Home Guard" formed to resist the Jacobites – mustered for crunch talks.

The Market Cross, where James Francis Edward Stuart was proclaimed King on Wednesday September 18th 1745, will then feature.

The tour goes on to tell the story of the Battle of the Lawnmarket, when government soldiers trapped in the Castle sought to break the Jacobite blockade on October 5 1745.

Lord Provost Archibald Stewart’s Land, home of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh at the time of Jacobite occupation, who was afterwards tried for treason for alleged collaboration with the rebels, is also visited.

The tour will then stop in the Gallowgate, where Major Gen Henry “Hangman” Hawley executed members of his own army following his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk Muir on January 17th 1746.

Greyfriars Kirkyard, the last resting place of the Gaelic bard Duncan Ban MacIntyre, who served in Hanoverian ranks at Falkirk Muir, also features. Also buried here is Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Council in 1745/46.

Just four days after Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Jacobites claimed victory over the government army at the Battle of Prestonpans.

They left the Palace of Holyrood House intent on marching to London but after being forced back at Derby, they entered Scotland once again and secured one more victory at the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746.

Each tour will be limited to 12 people and last around two hours. Tickets for the tour are available directly from EventBrite or through the Fringe Box Office.

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