Trinity House was founded as a charity in the 14th century by mariners.
It was first of all the site of a medieval hospital for the sick, elderly
and travellers. Then it became - through trade incorporations - a place
for sailors and related trades to retire and get care. Trinity House is
now a working museum
The original Trinity House was built in 1555 by the Fraternity of Masters
and Mariners of Leith - and it was a home for the poor and elderly of
their community. The "hospital" was funded by a tax called 'Prime
Gilt', levied on every ton of cargo that passed through Leith. For seafarers
who knew their journeys were fraught with danger, it was a kind of insurance
policy for their families back home.
The first building with it's thatched roof was replaced in 1816 by the
one you see now - with a splendid meeting room inside, but the cellars
from the original hospital remain, and have had many uses over the years.
Leith is famous for the import of wine and it is almost certain that the
finest claret and burgundy would have passed through here - some destined
perhaps for the King. In 1636 a grammar school used this building and
around the same time Oliver Cromwell had the vaults taken as a store for
his army. There is still a section of the original building round the
corner in St Anthony's Place - look up at the wall just above head height
and you will see an inscription with some poetry dated 1570 and one below
In fact South Leith Parish Church, opposite Trinity House, lie 1300 years
ago with the coming of St Triduana to Scotland. The church has major Templar
links and the knights are thought to have built a Preceptory and hospice
on the site.
An actual dating for the founding of the Templar hospice is impossible
to say accurately, but it would have been around 1128. The hospice existed
until 1327 with the coming of the Knights of St John who would have continued
on the site until around 1390 at which time the Preceptory of St Anthony
was approximately founded.
Or 1544 - the English looted South Leith Parish Church the English invasion
known as the Rough Wooing.
|Mary Queen of Scots insignia at South
Leith Parish Church
The first provable royal link with South Leith Church is in 1327 with
Robert the Bruce and possibly with William Wallace as well. According
to court records Robert the Bruce came to Leith to receive treatment for
Leprosy from the Knights of St John and that explains why the Knights
of St John used the charter which they held from the time of Godfrey de
Saulton. William Wallace wrote his famous letter to the burgers of Marleburg
from Leith, to let them know it was safe to return to Scotland to Trade
after the battle of Stirling Bridge.
In fact, as the church's own website claims: "This is the only place
in Scotland where four consecutive coats of arms of a royal house can
Directions: Walking through the graveyard you will come to a gate
on the far side. Cross through here and go over Constitution Street and
into Links Lane, from here you are at the corner of Leith Links.