John Knox House, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

This evening, I am focusing on John Knox and the house associated with him on the Royal Mile (43-45 High Street) in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.

John Knox (1513-1572) was a zealous leader of the Reformation which saw Scotland switch from the Roman Catholic religion to Protestant in 1560. He was a powerful preacher and a key influence on the abdication of the (Catholic) Mary, Queen of Scots in 1567.

The link between Knox and the eponymous house on the Royal Mile is tenuous but has helped to preserve the building when its contemporaries were demolished. Knox resided at the house for a short spell during the siege of Edinburgh Castle (1571-73) and he may have died there. By the 1800s the house had become run down and was rescued for posterity via a purchase in 1850 by the Church of Scotland.

Most of the house dates from the mid 1500s with parts going back to the 1470s. It is built over three floors with walls one metre thick. It is closely associated with James Mossman, a Catholic loyalist who was executed for his loyalty to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Today, the house is a popular visitor attraction offering an insight into 16th century high status housing with huge tiled fireplaces, painted ceilings and oak panelling. During its long life the house has not always been a single residential dwelling but was split into units for artisans and trades people.

Fireplace interior.

Ancient Ceiling Decoration

Interior ceiling decoration.

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