London sites with a Scottish connection
Our pick of London sites with intriguing links to Scotland and the many Scotsmen and Scotswomen who have lived and worked here over the centuries.
London has many strong and historic connections with Scotland, thanks to the many Scots who have lived and worked in the city over the years, as well as those who may never have visited but whose life and legacy left its mark.
Burns statue on the Embankment
Victoria Embankment Gardens on the north bank of the Thames is the home to a statue of Scottish poet and ractonteur Robert Burns which was unviled by Lord Rosebery on 26 July 1884 and donated to the city of London by John Gordon Crawford.
The statue, sculpted by Sir John Steell, is one of four of his Burns statues, with the others located in Dunedin (New Zealand), Dundee (Scotland) and New York (USA). Burns is shown seated and looking into the distance. There is also a memorial bust of Burns at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Steell (born in Aberdeen in 1804) also created the Sir Walter Scott statue at the base of the Scott Memorial in Edinburgh.
Crown Court Church of Scotland
A Presbyterian church in Covent Garden that provides a welcome to all and is the longest-established Presbyterian church south of the border, dating back to 1711. The church prides itself on providing a ‘home away from home’ for Scots and Presbyterians around the world, who come to worship here and to see the Grade Two listed building, that was built on the site of a previous church in 1909.
Highlights include an Iona marble baptismal font, the royal arms of King George I, who was on the throne when the original church was built, and the 1909 organ, donated thanks to a grant from Andrew Carnegie.
The four stained glass windows on the east wall of the church contain 34 stained glass panels depicting Biblical and historical scenes, as well as panels commemorating John Knox, Robert Burns and Celtic saints including Ninian and Columba.
Drummonds Bank at Charing Cross
This historic bank, at Charing Cross in SW1A, was founded in 1717 by Scottish goldsmith Andrew Drummond, whose sign was a golden eagle, on the east side of Charing Cross. Drummonds was bought by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1924 and continues to operate under its original name. Over the years, the bank is believed to have held the accounts of notable figures including King George III, Thomas Gainsborough and Capability Brown.
Drummonds is one of Britain’s oldest banks and has been at its current premises, on the west side of Charing Cross, since 1760. On Andrew Drummond’s death in 1769 the bank continued in family hands, passing through three different branches. The current goshawk logo was designed to echo the original golden eagle sign of Andrew Drummond.
More than 500 customer ledgers for the period 1716 to 1955 have survived and are cared for by the Royal Bank of Scotland Archive, which is open by appointment to ‘bona fide’ researchers, for more click here.
Edinboro Castle pub
Founded in the 19th century to serve the ‘navvies’ working on the construction of the railway stations at Euston, Pancras and Kings Cross and the London canals, many of whom were Scottish, the Edinboro Castle is a popular pub and eatery close to Camden’s markets and Regent’s Park. The pub is well-known for its large beer garden – something of a rarity in central London.
The pub was part of a group of related watering holes, with research by Peter Watts suggesting that the Edinboro, Windsor, Dublin and Pembroke were each created to keep the labourers of each nation apart and avoid the fights that often broke out between rival groups.
London Scottish Golf Club
This eighteen-hole golf club is located at Wimbledon Common and is one of Britain’s few surviving Victorian-era golf clubs. It is the oldest continuously played-on course in England and is noted for its wood paneled clubhouse.
Early records show that the course was played on as early as the 1860s, by members of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers, who were stationed on nearby Wimbledon Common, and indeed a number of the holes (such as Blockade and the Long Hole) were laid out along the lines of rifle ranges. The club’s official formation date is 1865 and the original clubhouse was Mrs Doggett’s Cottage, followed by a move to the Iron House in 1871.
The current club house was built in 1897, shortly after the London Scottish Ladies opened a nearby nine-hole course in 1891.
The tomb of Mary Queen of Scots
The final resting place of Mary Queen of Scots is an ornate tomb in Westminster Abbey, where many of kings and queens lay. The Stewart queen was executed on 8 February 1587 and was moved from her original resting place in Peterborough Cathedral, to Westminster Abbey in October 1612, on the orders of her son James VI (I of England).
The elaborate marble tomb can be found in the Lady Chapel and has a white marble effigy of Mary Queen of Scots, with a Latin transcription that translates to:
To God, the best and greatest. To her good memory, and in eternal hope. MARY STUART, QUEEN OF SCOTS, Dowager Queen of France, daughter of James V of Scotland, sole heir and great granddaughter of Henry VII, King of England, through his elder daughter Margaret, (who was joined in marriage to James IV of Scotland): great-great-granddaughter of Edward IV, King of England through his eldest daughter of Elizabeth [of York]: wife of Francis II, King of France sure and certain heiress to the crown of England while she lived: mother of James, most puissant sovereign of Great Britain.
The London Metropolitan Police (LMP) headquarters is named after Great Scotland Yard (between Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall), the rear entrance of the original headquarters of this police force. This rear entrance was where the public accessed the station, and before long the name Scotland Yard was adopted into everyday use.
The LMP left Great Scotland Yard in 1890 and moved to nearby New Scotland Yard on the Victorian Embankment, then on to Broadway and finally the current Curtis Green Building.
You can visit Great Scotland Yard, in SW1, where a street sign proclaims it part of the City of Westminster. Although the street’s connections with Scotland are not certain, it has been the home of some high profile inhabitants including Sir Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones and John Milton.
A memorial to the memory of Sir William Wallace, located at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Smithfield, east London, close to the site where Wallace was executed on 23 August 1305. The monument was erected in 1956 and its text reads:
To the immortal memory of Sir William Wallace, Scottish patriot, born at Elderslie Renfrewshire circa 1270 AD, who from the year 1296 fought dauntlessly in defence of his country's liberty and independence in the face of fearful odds and great hardship, being eventually betrayed and captured. Brought to London and put to death near this spot on the 23rd August 1305.
His example heroism and devotion inspired those who came after him to win victory from defeat and his memory remains for all time a source of pride, honour and inspiration to his countrymen.
Bruce Castle, Haringey
(with thanks to Professor Clunas via Twitter for this suggestion)
A 16th-century manor house in Tottenham that stands on the site of land which once belonged to the 'de Bruce' family of Scotland. After Robert the Bruce became king of Scots the site passed into the hands of the English crown. One notable owner was Sir William Compton, a companion of Henry VIII of England.
The building is now home to the London Borough of Haringey's Museum & Archive. For more on its history click here.
(images from top © Prioryman; Matthew Ross, Oxyman; Peter Mason; Herry Lawford; R Sones; Steve FE Cameron)
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