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Guild Street

DR. WILLIAM GUILD (1586–1657) was brought into close contact with the craftsmen of Aberdeen through his father being a prominent member of the Hammermen Trade, and took an active and practical interest in the welfare and prosperity of the craftsmen and their associations during the last 20 years of his life. He gifted to them in 1633 the old Trinity Monastery and Chapel to be an Hospital and meeting house; founded a bursary fund that has proved a most valuable addition to the educational schemes of the Aberdeen Trades, and these benefactions alone entitle him to prominent mention in a history of the craft guilds of his native city.

William was the second son of Matthew Guild, a well-known armourer or "sweird slipper," who, as a "worthy deacon " of his own craft, gave frequent evidence that he was endowed with remarkable energy and considerable force of character. About the time that William was born (1586) the town was in the midst of serious civil and ecclesiastical troubles, and the public records furnish abundant evidence of the active part that the armourer took in the public affairs of the town. Matthew was one of a number of craftsmen who openly defied the ordinances of the town by "cumyng throw the toune" on a Sunday afternoon "with ane minstrall play and befor thaim throch the Gallowgett," for which they were punished by losing their freedom for a time. Matthew subsequently filled the office of deacon of his craft on 6 successive occasions, a post of no small importance and influence at that period. William was the second son of the same name, his elder brother having met a violent death at the hands of a son of John Leslie, burgess. There were also 3 daughters - Jean, who was married to David Anderson of Finzeauch, "an ingenius and virtuous citizen," whose skill in mechanics earned for him the name of "Davie do a'thing;" and Margaret and Christina, who survived their brother, and succeeded to a portion of his Estate. Jean left 2 bequests to the town - one for the maintenance and education of poor orphans (present annual revenue about £75); and another for the maintenance of poor widows of merchant and craft burgesses and of aged virgins born in Aberdeen (present annual revenue about £2 5s.). Margaret married a glazier named Cushnie, and she, along with Christina, were the heirs under Dr. Guild's will who had the option of paying out of the doctor's estate 5,000 merks or handing over the Bursars' House in Castle Street for the support of craftsmen's sons at Marischal College. Matthew Guild, being a man of considerable means, and carrying on what at that time was the most lucrative handicraft of the day, was able to (rive his family the best education attainable. William was sent to Marischal College, which had just been opened for the reception of students, where he made rapid progress in his divinity studies.


Guild Street was a Harbour Thoroughfare with much history, and now has the City's rebuilt bus station on it.

Alongside these is the site of the former Guild Street Railway Station which became a goods station after the construction of the "Joint" railway station (on the site of the present facility, which is itself the second building to house the "joint" station), but the former goods station has since been closed and demolished, leaving only some goods sidings behind the site.  

Named after William Guild (1586–1657) a Scottish minister, academic and theological writer.


Fidler's Well

Fidler's Wallie In days of Horsepower the thirsty animals had to drink from water troughs which also served as Fountains for the passing Public., The inscription on the other side of the lion head reads:  “Fountain Hall 1st August 1857.  Water springs for man and beast / at your service I am here / although 6,000 years of age / I am caller clean and clear.  Erected for the inhabitants of the world by Alexander Fidler.” (Caller” means cool, fresh, refreshing).

Alexander Fidler erected this well in Guild Street on the 200th anniversary of the death of Dr. William Guild in 1657. Guild was a Presbyterian minister who was Principal of King’s College, Aberdeen until Cromwell’s men came to visit in 1651.  He apparently was well-loved for his benevolence to Aberdeen, and is commemorated by Guild Street and also by the William Guild building at King’s College, now part of the University of Aberdeen.


The well, originally intended for horses, was also supplied with 2 cast iron cups on chains for human use. Alexander Fidler, Aberdeen Coal Merchant, died in 1885, but his well remained in use until 1957 when it was removed to allow extra parking space off Guild Street. The well was restored and for a time was one of the features in the Duthie Park. Restored once more by the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, it now aptly stands outside Trinity Hall in Holburn Street.

A Fidler's Well was also once located at the junction of Kings Street and University Road in the vicinity Lady Mill near Old Aberdeen see Fidlers Well Near Lady Mill 1888

John Milne, Exchange Billiard Rooms, 4 Exchange Street,

A Single Axle Cart Horse drinks deeply from Fidler's Well in Guild Street with the Waverley Hotel  and the Alhambra in the background.  Caledonian Railway Station stands opposite behind the cart.

Waverley Hotel 1870~ (St Magnus Court Hotel)  20-24 Guild Street

The Waverley Hotel once the Caledonian Railway's Hotel (now St Magnus Court) is a well-detailed building in the Scots Baronial style which makes a distinctive addition to the streetscape of Guild Street. The adjoining building to the North continues the design of the Waverley and establishes a uniform appearance to the whole block, enhancing streetscape character. The use of ashlar and contrasting tooled granite is unusual. The shallow segmental arched windows, distinctive timber mouldings to the dormers and the contrasting banding are features of both buildings.  Exchange Street and the surrounding area was redeveloped in the mid-late 19th century as a mixed use area with Housing, Commercial Buildings and Industrial units. This building was constructed on the site of a previous sawmill. Guild Street lies close to the station and this hotel was one of a number in the area which helped to accommodate an increasing number of travellers.  
Dated 1870. 3-storey and attic, 5-bay Hotel and Commercial building with Scots Baronial detailing and later, similar adjoining domestic and Commercial building to North. 12-bays to East (Stirling Street) and West (Exchange Street) and 6 bays to North (Imperial Place). Public House to ground at East and West with timber stallrisers and fascia. Tooled granite with contrasting band courses and flush banding, ashlar to ground. Shallow segmental arched openings (some alterations to ground). Piended dormers with narrow timber moulding. Crowstepped gables to West and East.

8-10 Trinity Street
Dated 1900. 3-storey and attic 4 x 3-bay tenement building with altered Public House (Aichies) to ground, situated on prominent corner site with corner 3-light canted bay, corbelled at 2nd storey with polygonal pyramidal roof. Squared and coursed grey granite, rubble to rear.  Deep moulded cornice above ground, attic band course. Pair of steeply stepped gables with apex stacks to attic of Trinity Street elevation. Pilasters divide openings to ground. Corner entrance door with moulded doorpiece. Flat-roofed 2-bay section to North with later extension.  Predominantly multi-pane over plate glass timber sash and case windows to upper storeys, non-traditional and plate glass to ground. Grey slates. Gable stacks. 
This is a well-detailed Tenement building situated on a prominent site, visible at entry into Aberdeen City Centre from the Railway Station. The multi-pane glazing pattern to the upper sashes is unusual in the City centre and together with the canted corner bay it makes a significant contribution to the Streetscape. The Ordnance Survey Map indicates the presence of a Public House and the ground floor is occupied by one currently

Trinity Street and Trinity Lane itself takes its name from the ground in the area once owned by the Trinity Friars. The building in the right foreground was once known as Trinity Chapel, being opened for public worship on Sunday, 27th April, 1794. For a number of years, the Chapel was an important centre of religious life and activity. The Disruption of 1843 however eventually dispersed the congregation. The building itself was eventually sold by the Presbytery and became for a number of years the Alhambra Music Hall. In later years it became, as is evident from the photo, a fruit warehouse, then a showroom and later a fish restaurant.

Carmelite and Trinitarian religious orders established friaries to the south of the Green and near Guild Street by the 13th century, centred on impressive stone built buildings. The strategic position of the Green close to the developing harbour and near one of the town “ports” which controlled trade, ensured that the area continued to be closely associated with trading.

The Trinity Monastery and all its belongings were bought by Dr William Guild, one of the town's ministers, and presented by him in 1633 to the Incorporated Trades. When the Church of St Nicholas became ruinous and was deserted by its congregation they were accommodated in Trinity Church till the West Church was built. It continued, however, to be used as a church, and having itself become ruinous it was taken down in 1794 and rebuilt. In 1606 the Town Council granted a shipbuilder permission to build a ship in Trinity Churchyard, then lying unenclosed. It had been a very convenient spot for getting the ship into the water after she was built. In making excavations in 1906 for the foundation of a house at the corner of Market Street a coffin was met with in one place and some of the timbers of a ship in another. The Trinity Convent is commemorated by the name Trinity Quay, which once extended up Guild Street as far as the convent ground had gone.

The son of Matthew Guild, a wealthy armourer of Aberdeen, he was born at Aberdeen, and was educated at Marischal College. He received license to preach in 1605, and in 1608 was ordained minister of the parish of King Edward in his native county. Two years later his wealth was increased by his marriage with Katherine Rolland or Rowen of Disblair, Aberdeenshire. In 1617, during the visit of James I to his ancestral kingdom, Guild was in Edinburgh, and was a member of the assembly which met in the music school of that city, and protested for the liberties of the kirk; the temper of the king was thought to make it dangerous to sign the protestation, but Guild was one of the 55 who subscribed. While in Edinburgh he made the acquaintance of Bishop Lancelot Andrews, then with the King, and to him (in 1620) he dedicated his best-known work, Moses Unveiled.

He was made a chaplain to Charles I. Soon afterwards he received the degree of D.D., then almost unknown in Scotland. He was translated to the second charge at Aberdeen in 1631, where he joined the clergy in supporting episcopacy, and in 1635 he was one of the preachers at the funeral of Bishop Patrick Forbes, his diocesan. The National Covenant was viewed at Aberdeen with disfavour, and the commissioners sent to press its acceptance on the city were met by the Aberdeen Doctors for the university, and the town ministers, with a series of questions disputing its lawfulness. Guild signed these questions, but soon subscribed the Covenant, though with three limitations: he would not condemn the Articles of Perth, though agreeing for the peace of the church to forbear the practice of them; he would not condemn episcopal government absolutely; and he reserved his duty to the King.

Guild went as commissioner to the Glasgow assembly of 1638, which deposed the Scottish bishops. In March 1640 an army approached Aberdeen to enforce unconditional subscription of the Covenant. Guild for a time took refuge in Holland, but soon returned, and administered the communion according to the presbyterian form on 3 November. In August 1640 the covenanters expelled Dr. William Leslie, and appointed Guild principal of King's College, Aberdeen, in preference to Robert Baillie. He retired from his position as minister, preaching for the last time on 27 June 1641. He helped in the dismantling of the bishop's palace at Old Aberdeen and the purging of the cathedral and the college chapel of ornaments; but Andrew Cant, then all-powerful at Aberdeen, thought him lukewarm, and at the visitation of King's College by Oliver Cromwell's military commissioners in 1651 he was deprived.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013