Mary King's Close creates first ever women's history tours

Popular attraction The Real Mary King’s Close is now telling the city’s story through a different lens - with its first-ever women's history tour.

By Jolene Campbell
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 3:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 4:12 pm

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The one-hour (Her) story experience brings to life stories of women often missing from the history books, from those who were persecuted as witches to others who fought to access education.

Mary King’s Close’s was once “a haven for independent women”, with 45 per cent of the properties having a female head of the household, which was very unusual for the time.

Visitors can meet Mary King in (Her) story tours

The award-winning site has partnered with Strut Safe for the special tours, a local volunteer-led charity set up following the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021.

During the special tours visitors will meet characters including Mary King as she reveals how she obtained voting rights in the city almost 300 years ahead of her time.

It comes as the city hosts a special programme of events to raise funds for a statue in memory of war hero and pioneering medic Elsie Inglis.

Visitors on (Her) story tours will hear about powerful women who shaped Edinburgh’s history between the 16th and 19th centuries and discover the impact they had on our lives today.

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Katie Scott, Guest Experience Manager of The Real Mary King’s Close, said: “In our regular tours, we talk about some of the women who lived on the closes, but it is difficult to get

into more details. Our new (Her)story Tours allow us to properly tell the stories of women who lived in Edinburgh and understand what their life would have been like. I have learnt

so much about women’s history while researching for the scripts.”

Her story tours will delve into the story of Mary Queen of Scots, one of the most famous figures in Scottish history who spent her last night in Stewart’s Close.

The special tours will also feature the real life story of Euphane Maccalzean who was put to death after being accused of witchcraft.

Emilie Lumineau, Marketing manager said: “The tours really bring to life what life was like for women. I don’t think not many people know. It’s like they have stayed invisible in the

accounts of history that we often hear about. One of the stories told in the our is of the Edinburgh seven who fought to study medicine. Another is of Euphane, who was executed

after fighting for her rights. She was accused of being a witch. She was an advocate of women’s rights, who kept her maiden name after getting married. That was very unusual for

that time. After her death her daughters fought and won back her land.”

On International Women’s Day tours will be followed by discussions and cocktails at Copper Still, located on The Royal Mile.

Strut Safe’s volunteers will join The Real Mary King’s Close’s guides to discuss women’s history and continued efforts to tackle systemic violence against women.

The (Her)story Tours are also available on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th March. A £1 donation will be given to Strut Safe with each (Her)story Tour ticket purchased.

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