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For a good look at Edinburgh's stained glass, start at Waverley Station, in the heart
of the city. Elbow your way past busking bagpipe players and begging squirrels
and into Tourist Info (yuckily renamed Visit Scotland) and get a map and a bus timetable.
If you are feeling fit, sprint to the top of the Scott Monument to see the view and a Ballantine
window. Unless your interest in stained glass is really academic, miss out Cowgate
with the oldest in-situ glass in Scotland (though the building ’is interesting).
Me, I’d go straight to the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle to see the Chapel
(wonderful little Strachan windows, including Willie Wallace) and the war
Memorial (large Strachans!).
If you hear the one-o’clock gun, you're dawdling and should be long gone.
Wander down the Mile – wetting the whistle at Deacon Brodie’s – and into St Giles.
There are lots of stained glass windows there:– Strachan, Spear, C Shaw,
Burne-Jones, Ballantine etc. One of the most recent is the West window,
replacing a crumbling Victorian one, to commemorate Robbie Burns.
Bite tongue over appropriateness of a huge window to a serial seducer of
women and abandoner of illegitimate children, and concentrate on the fine
work by Icelander Leifur Breidfjörd.
After you’'ve looked at them (don’t forget the clerestory), off up the Bridges to
Greyfriar’s Church to see the first pictorial glass to be installed in a Church of
Scotland after the Reformation, with George Buchanan’s portrait. Also see the
new Millennium window by Hogg.
If time permits, go and see where wee Bobby was buried.
Or zip across the road to the new and fabulous museum.
(Of course there is stained glass there)
Next, hop onto a bus and go to Holy Corner to the Eric Liddell Centre(of Chariot’s of
Fire fame). There you'll see some fine windows, including work by Duncan,
Hendrie and Wilson. Resist the temptation to draw a bubble coming out of the
woman's mouth saying 'Jings! How did ye get yer gown that white?'
Back down Lothian Road will take you to St Cuthbert’s. Pass the grave of Thomas
de Quincey, the Opium Eater, and go in and see the Tiffany window, one of a
handful in Scotland. Not his finest, but it’s interesting to see what was being
done over the water.
Up to George Street and into St Andrew’s and St George’s, where you’ll see a fine
Alf Webster (father of Gordon, one of top 20th century stained glass
artists in Scotland, but you don't see his work on this tour.)
There's also a good Strachan.
From there, nip along to the National Portrait Gallery and see the window depicting
founders of the Society of Antiquarians. Painter and stained glass designer
Noel Paton is one shown.
Back up to George Street, where on the corner with St Andrew’s Square is a building which
was once the Caledonian Insurance Company. It could be called anything this week.
The staircase windows are by Willie Wilson and depict scenes of Edinburgh life from
the 1930s. Lots of little whimsical scenes as well as rugged fishermen, miners etc.
By this time, you’ll be exhausted and ready to collapse over a stiff drink. Head for the
Oyster Bar of the Café Royal and slump down in front of the windows by Willie
Wilson's Uncle Tom, showing Victorian sportsmen.
By now you realise that you really should have got that bumper pack of slide film.
You will need to come back.
Rona went to USA a few years after writing this and sadly did not stay in touch.
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