Woodburn House is a grand house in douce Morningside, in Edinburgh. Long ago it was a spectacular family home. After providing varied healthcare-related functions, including as a residence, it is now an office. It is one of Edinburgh’s many buildings listed and protected due to its architectural merit and interesting history. Surprisingly little information is readily available, however, and I’m collating what I have found in my relatively informal searching, and am happy to update. So feel free to comment if you know more, and I’ll add the details. I meant to post this about a year ago, but thought I’d do more work on it. Despite COVID, I didn’t.Continue reading “Woodburn House, Canaan Lane”
When we moved into a traditional tenement flat in Morningside (Edinburgh) in the mid 1990s, we felt very lucky. It was just what we wanted: spacious, in a great area of town (quiet, leafy, central and with varied local facilities). As a bonus it had relatively dramatic period features that gave our home extra character. Especially the ceilings.
But after nearly quarter of a century, the time came to move on. To flit. So, to partner a blog which sings the praises of one whole street of Morningside tenements, now here’s a specific eulogy to the history of our flat. Our much loved flat: the home our children grew up in. But we are not the focus… this is part of a “house history” of the place itself (Flat 1, 9 Woodburn Terrace), and of course it was a home for other people too. Here I’ll attempt to tell the story of the person who was responsible for creating its unusual charm, 140 years ago, its first owner, David Wight (~1838-1910), a plasterer who may or may not have been the intended first resident.Continue reading “The plasterer’s flat”
Many people with even quite recent Scottish roots are unfamiliar with the variety of Victorian tenements in Scotland. And in family history research people read and see photos and reports that equate all tenements with slums. Old maps can show street after street of densely packed housing, clustered around heavy industry in the inner city. This high density housing for working people, like the people who lived there and their way of life, were not cared for or valued by wider society, so they went into decline and were, in large areas, swept away.
In our post-industrial age, and once refurbished, most of the so-called surviving “slums” have become desirable properties. Modernised, they can command a premium price over most 20th C. flats in the same area, if they survived in a sympathetic context. “Bought by a wide range of social types, [they] are favoured for their large rooms, high ceilings and original period features”, says Wikipedia. Spot on. But also, the largest or fanciest tended not to become dilapidated or be demolished in the first place.Continue reading “A Morningside tenement”
A 27 page pamphlet of nearly 10,000 words was written by my great grandfather William Henderson Stevenson and “published” in 1887. He wrote: “having had the privilege of labouring among this interesting people [The Santals in India] for over nine years, we have been asked to tell something of their habits and customs…”
Stevenson’s booklet is titled (or was Number 21 in a series titled) Woman’s Work in Heathen Lands, and I have scanned my copy, then used (free) optical character recognition to create a text-searchable version, some extracts from which appear here. The whole text will appear online soon.Continue reading “A missionary pamphlet”
Three siblings, born in North East India in the 1880s. My grandmother and her two brothers. When their father died, the children were brought back to Scotland by their mother. The brothers would return to Raj India as adults and it would shape their lives. But my grandmother? She didn’t have their opportunities, even if she had wanted to, and became a wife and mother in Scotland.
I had almost no information about my great uncles, and they were hard to find. Here, I’m just going to describe what I know about their childhood with my grandmother, and how I found them, as one way to introduce the various Stevenson stories.Continue reading “Out of India”
We have an antique vase from 1889. We didn’t know what it was, and more importantly we didn’t know who it was made for. Thanks to research then replies to this blog, the mysteries are solved (mostly). Wonderfully, we have heard from a descendant of the couple whose marriage it was made to commemorate (see below). The goblet is large (30cm tall with a 4 pint capacity) and beautifully engraved, with a floral thistle theme and pictorial images of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. The lead crystal rings like a bell when tapped. And it has two coins/medals inside a blown glass cavity (“knop”) at the foot of its stem.Continue reading “The Aitkens’ Coin-Glass Goblet”