The Doric Columns
Upperkirkgate pre-dates George Street and St Nicholas Street in the medieval layout of the City and note the 2 distinct paths to the East and West churches of St Nicholas from the Upper Gate. Flourmill Lane, leading from Netherkirkgate commemorates the site of the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen?s Upper Mill. The Mill, fed by the Mill Burn, stood nearby from the 13th Century until 1865. The Mill not only provided wheat, rye and malt for the Burgh but also revenue through the leasing arrangement.
This artwork by D R Alexander shows the already widened Schoolhill compared to the ascending narrowing width of the original Upperkirkgate determined by the Guestrow and Broad Street buildings. The City Fathers had ambitious designs on this area with 1st the building of Reid and Pearson's at the bottom of Schoolhill then the complete demolition of the east side of Upperkirkgate and finally blocking off the former main northern thoroughfare of George Street completely with not 1 but 2 large Shopping Arcades. Such freedoms are not normally extended to to the destruction of ancient town centre properties and streets in England, where 12th century Inns are given full respect and still exist.
Ach - Knocket doon!
Alexander Brown, a brisk, active, good-looking young fellow of 16, kept his eyes and his ears open to all the influences by which he was surrounded, and profited by them as he might have been expected to do at his age. Three years' service seems to have given him confidence in himself, and he then started business on his own account in a very humble way in a small shop on the north side of the Upperkirkgate, next to Drum's Lane, buying the stock of a Mr. Taylor. He opened this shop on June 7th, 1785, and the first entry in his Day Book is the sale of Guthrie's Grammar of Geography, price 7s. 6d.
It is therefore a rare survival and a significant part of the streetscape. Burgage Plots still retained the need to cultivate the backlands or 'backies' as they are still known within the Town. They and generally related to the width of the property, with long plots running some distance from the back of the houses.
The original entrance to No 42 would have been from the East, either through a pend or, if separated from its neighbour, by way of a garden.
There were many such "courts",
which led, by way of a "pend"
for covered passage through the "tenement
of foreland", or
house on the street, to the former yards and gardens where the "tenements
of inland and backland"
were built. These
courts were found
in great profusion on the older streets of the Town:
Upperkirkgate, Netherkirkgate, North Street, Schoolhill
etc, but the great majority of them were swept away in slum-clearances in the
later 19th century.
Ross's Court, 6-8 Upperkirkgate
Provost Robertson's House on the right c1739 with Coat of Arms above the Door and the Baronial Stair Tower above. His bed linen gets both a bleaching and an airing. The lodging was later to be developed for Aberdeen University Press in 1899.
Provost Alexander Robertson's House
This townhouse is a curious mixture of old
and new buildings. It is generally said that the oldest elements dated from a
town house built here in 1680 by George Leslie, Provost of
Aberdeen from 1685 to 1687. The current building includes above
its dormer windows carved stones form the 1680 house. One of the stones
has George Leslie's initials and the initials CW, for his wife
Christian Walker; they married in 1697. A final one bears a harp and
the date 1680. The final relic of the 1680 house is a carved stone
panel incorporating Leslie's Coat of Arms at 1rst floor level.
Water was taken into the Medieval Town by a lead pipe following the Denburn to the Well of Spa. There it left the course of the burn and went up by Black's Buildings and along Schoolhill. At the east end of Schoolhill, on the south side of the street, it supplied a stone cistern well. Here the main pipe divided into two branches. One going south supplied a Cistern Well in Netherkirkgate at the head of Carnegie's Brae, opposite the end of Flourmill Lane. This Well is shown in "Scotia Depicta" Descending Carnegie's Brae, the pipe supplied a Well in the Green, shown on Taylor's Map, 1773, and another at the Shore. The other branch ascended Upperkirkgate, and supplied a well in the Gallowgate and another in Broad Street in front of Greyfriars Church, where a reservoir or Water House was afterwards erected. There was another well near the south end of Broad Street, east side, and a large cistern well in Castlegate.
A good example of late 18th century townhouse with ground floor shop in this part of Aberdeen. No.s 20 and 22 Upperkirkgate is a good example of the tall narrow townhouse with shops to the ground floor which are characteristic of 18th and 19th century Aberdeen. The pend would have provided access to the stairs to upper levels at the rear and side of the building
Andrew Begg's Footwear Shop
on the business at
there was a
Alexander McAslan & Co. Boot manufacturers and
Milne and Munro Ltd., Boot and Shoemakers 7 George Street, and Holburn Place 1940
A now reversely constricted Upperkirkgate from the bottom of Schoolhill overlooking the narrow junction of old with Boots the Chemist on the St Nicholas Street corner and Tyler's shoe shop on the other.
The shops appear to be closed for the widening of Upperkirkgate to match the prior re-widening of Schoolhill. The Marischal College is masked slightly by surviving houses on Broad Street and the Guestrow all but cleared.
Upperkirkgate c.1950 prior to demolition in 1953. The building at the extreme right of the photograph is Reid and Pearson's. Behind the lorry were the premises of Charles Allardyce, Surgical Instrument Makers; next door was Joseph Sievwright, watchmaker; then A. B. Hutchison, bakers.
Kirkgate Court, Upperkirkgate. John Farquhar and David Gill, Painters and Glaziers, bought adjacent land in 1828. Farquhar & Gill Colour Works operated until 1972. Kirkgate Court is also known as Farquhar?s or Painter?s Court.
Drum's Lane, 28 Upperkirkgate
Drums Lane (East of Charles Court) at its junction with Loch Street. The Soup Kitchen was round the corner.
The same houses are quite recognisable
This commemorates the location of Lady Drum?s Hospital. In 1633 Marion Douglas, Lady Drum, mortified the sum of 3,000 merks for a commodious house for poor widows and aged virgins. Building began in 1671. By 1721, the house also accommodated daughters of Burgesses of Guild. In 1798 the area was redeveloped and Drum?s Lane was laid out. Marion Douglas (1577-1633) , daughter of the Earl of Buchan, married Alexander Irvine, Laird of Drum, around 1590. The Irvines of Drum were an influential family in Aberdeen. Alexander Irvine gave money to Aberdeen University - the Drum Bursary. The new Mansion of Drum was built during their marriage, and Alexander Irvine and Marion Douglas' initials appear on one of the lintels. The couple had at least 3 children. In 1323 William de Irwyn (whose name possible derived from origins in Irvine in Ayrshire) was appointed by Robert the Bruce to oversee the Royal Forest of Drum (where for many years the Kings of Scotland had come to hunt deer and wild boar) and granted the Barony of Drum, plus the 13th C Tower House you can still see in Deeside today. Many generations of Irvine's followed, with the heir usually being called Alexander.
Trial excavation in 1979 revealed evidence that the area was used for backland dumping and cultivation during the Medieval period. Two silver pennies of Edward I were found by workmen. A trench here revealed a cess pit. It was sealed by post-medieval garden earth and may be medieval or early post-medieval in date. It yielded shell, bone and nut fragments but no pottery or datable finds.
The most important Treasure Trove of Aberdeen - indeed, the largest find of coins that has ever been made in Scotland - was the discovery of the locally celebrated "Bronze Pot" On the 31st May, 1886, workmen were busy excavating foundation works in the Upperkirkgate, when the foreman drove a pick into some hard substance that gave out a sharp metallic ring, and examination brought to light a bronze cauldron, from which, through the hole that the pick had made, a small stream of silver coins began to trickle forth. The treasure was, as usual, and, indeed, with great probability, set down as part of the pay chest of one of the English Armies that swept over the North of Scotland about the middle of the 14th century. The magnitude of the treasure quickly brought on the scene the officials of the Exchequer. and the pot and as many of the coins that could be taken possession of were deposited for examination to the Exchequer Offices, Edinburgh. Altogether complete coins to the number of 12,1247 were recovered, and fragments of about 20 others, making in all 12,267.
Clark's Court, 2 Upperkirkgate
East of Ross's Court at the end of Broad Street
James Beattie's House stood in Crown Court at 36 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. It had an internal stone stair and some of the rooms were oak panelled. James Beattie was born in 1735 in Laurencekirk and in 1760 he was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at Marischal College. He died at this house on 18th August 1803 and was buried in St Nicholas Churchyard. His house became the home of an Advocate, but in the 1850-60's it was used by the Aberdeen General Dispensary, lying in an vaccine institution which supplied advice and medicines to the sick and poor. In more recent times, the area behind the Upperkirkgate was cleared and redeveloped as the Bon-Accord Shopping Centre - Aye - Knocket Doon
Ophthalmic Institution, for Diseases of the Eye, Crown Court, 36 Upperkirkgate (1853)
The Upperkirkgate Port
last of the 6 medieval town gateways to be demolished, sometime after 1794. It
stood near the foot of the Upperkirkgate, just beyond No. 42, the
17th century house which is still to be seen there now. The original
ports ? solid walls pierced by gateways ? had become an obstruction to the flow
of traffic, having been in existence from the first half of the 15th century.
Mr George Cadenhead in his
"Sketch of the Territorial History of the Burgh of Aberdeen '* (1878),
says the Upperkirkgate Port was near the foot of Upperkirkgate, about the mouth
of Burn Court probably level with the Mill Burn, and that the Ports in the town were removed in or about
the year 1768, as being useless and obstructive to the streets. This date
is incorrect, so as it concerns the Upperkirkgate Port, for the following
paragraph appears in the " Aberdeen Journal' of 30th June, 1794:-
The Upperkirkgate or Schoolhill Port was just within the Mill Burn which came down Burn Court, 60 yards west of Tannery Street. (now George Street) Kennedy's Annals says that before 1585 a gallery had been erected over the port, which communicated with the house adjoining the North end. It has been supposed that Samuel Rutherford occupied this gallery during his banishment to Aberdeen, 1636-8, for his strict non-conforming Presbyterianism and severe Calvinism, but his letters written in Aberdeen contain nothing to bear out this supposition. "I am well. My prison is a Palace to me, and Christ?s banqueting-house" Rutherford was an active man, always doing good. He wrote many books and helped prepare the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Yet his life was involved in much suffering. In addition to the persecution and banishment he endured, he mourned the loss all but one of his seven children, who died before him. His beloved wife also preceded him in death, after a long and painful illness. When wheeled conveyances came into general use the ports were found to be an inconvenience, and in 1798 the Upperkirkgate Port with its Gallery was purchased by the City for £140 and promptly demolished. Ach - Knocket Doon
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