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A BRIEF HISTORY OF STOCKBRIDGE

 
 


the Stockbridge Colonies

Stockbridge takes it name from the Scots words "stocc brycg" meaning a timber foot bridge after the original bridge that crossed the Water of Leith to the small village.

The current stone Stock Bridge was built in 1801 with the help of the architect James Milne and it now allows traffic to cross the river between the two adjoining estates of Deanhaugh and St. Bernard's both of which were purchased in the 1790's by the painter Henry Raeburn (1756 -1823).

Milne was also responsible for St. Bernard's Church in Saxe Coburg Street built in 1823 and Anne Street which was designed by Raeburn and named after his wife. Today houses in Anne Street with their front gardens are among Edinburgh's most expensive properties.

After the creation of Edinburgh's Georgian New town which began in 1767, building steadily progressed northwards to emcompass the small villages along the river including Stockbridge and the Dean Village.

Stockbridge has a definite Bohemian vibe and many artists, musicians, poets,writers and thespians have made the area their home. Over the years famous residents have included, portrait artist Sir Henry Raeburn, poet James Hogg, surgeon Sir James Young Simpson and more recently actor Norman Lovett and the lead singer of the band 'Garbage', Shirley Manson.

The original Mrs Doubtfire or "Madame Doubtfire" lived and ran a rag and bone shop in South East Circus Place, Stockbridge. The novelist Anne Fine who also lived in the area was inspired by the name which remained faded above her shop (now a solicitors) many years after Madame Doubtfire's death. Her novel of the same name was in turn the inspiration for the movie based on her book, although Robin William's character bares little resemblence to the 'real' Madame Doubtfire.

Another famous 'madame' from Stockbridge was Dora Noyce was well repected lady dressed in her fur coat, twinset and pearls and posh accent and was a good friend of Madame Doubtfire's, on the surface no one (other than her clientele) would have suspected that she ran a very successful brothel from her elegant townhouse at 17 Danube Street. She once said her busiest time was during the Edinburgh Festival but the two weeks of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland ran a close second.

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