John Knox, Tollbooths & Huntly House

This post is going to cram three museums into one post.  I do apologise but that’s how it’s going to be.  This is my blog and I am still sick.  Also I actually got drenched by a car making a turn today. I really had thought that only occurs in movies. My trowsers disagree.


All three of these are one building (or amalgamations thereof) of small independent Museums all located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Similarities abound!

John Knox Museum


We all know I love house museums so this place was a must!  It’s the last tenement house that hadn’t been renovated for us modern folk. Hence the “Mind your Head” signs.  As the average size of historical Caledonians, I had no trouble.



Interestingly, the house was lived in by John Knox (who it is named for, what a shock) who personally pushed Scotland to become a Protestant Nation. He vehemently opposed Mary Queen of Scots and her “hore life-style.”  The former owner was James Mosman, a goldsmith, and he was one of Mary’s biggest supporters.



A goldsmith’s bench as Mosman would have used. His family helped found the Goldsmith guild.



Stained Glass portrait of John Knox!  The church he preached at was just up the street.

Rating: 4/5

Pros: see how people really lived, good displays and integration of history, great building

Cons: the first room is super dark and actors voices start screaming.  It’s jarring.

People’s Story

This museum is in the old tollhouse and details the life of the working classes in Edinburgh.  It’s thematically organised into sections like Housing, Leisure, Protest, etc.



Before the New Town was built and the water was drained, Old Town was hemmed in.  Expansion meant going upwards.  The poor lived at the very top and very bottom of these up to 12 storey high buildings while the middle sections (not too far to climb but away from the filthy street) went to those who could afford them.



The mannequins were terrifying. I kept being about to apologize to them for stepping in their way.



The displays were all very text heavy but had great feminist perspectives.  The bottom of the panels in the occupation section showed how many/ what percentage worked in that industry.  It was really inspiring to see.



They even had stuff from protests last year- the banner that was carried.  Great to see how up to date it really is!

Rating: 4/5

Pros: A different feminist perspective, lots of objects and research done.

Cons: those mannequins.  It was multi-leveled so anyone with mobility issues won’t get to see 2/3′s of it.


Museum of Edinburgh

This one is located in Huntly House, the former home of the Duchess of Gordon (1738-1760). Though it later became a tenement house to about 323 people in 1851.  Pater says his Scottish grandmother was from one of the septs of Clan Gordon.  So it was nice to see what some of my ancestors helped pay for/ were loyal too.



This Museum has a lot going on and was a warren of rooms and floors.  I could imagine 300 people living there in squalor.



I loved the contemorary exhibit about Fathers and Sons/ Mothers and Daughters. It was about immigrants from Asia settling in Edinburgh.  It felt a bit like that Master of None episode. Super cool!



Also there was a video presentation about the history from its origins in magma to today. It was really amazing!



I enjoyed myself and there were a lot of curios and objects made in Edinburgh.  It gave quite a broad view of everything from silversmithing to wooden pipes.

Rating 3/5

Pros: Big collection, has Greyfriar Bobby’s collar and bowl! Cool elements.

Cons: It’s a patchwork or concepts, collections and rooms. The lack of focus bugged me.

Thanks for sticking through this post!  One more to go about day 2.


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