Broughton, Edinburgh

Broughton (/ˈbrtən/) is an ancient feudal barony, today within the City of Edinburgh, Scotland that was once known for its witchcraft.[1]

Broughton Place, Edinburgh 005.jpg
Broughton Place
Broughton is located in Edinburgh
Location within Edinburgh
Council area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townEdinburgh
Postcode districtEH1
Dialling code0131 (558)
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°57′28.97″N 3°11′18.19″W / 55.9580472°N 3.1883861°W / 55.9580472; -3.1883861Coordinates: 55°57′28.97″N 3°11′18.19″W / 55.9580472°N 3.1883861°W / 55.9580472; -3.1883861

Ancient baronyEdit

The village of Broughton in 1850

The feudal barony of Broughton in the 16th and 17th centuries was in the hands of the Bellenden family, who had made their money in the legal profession. Sir John Bellenden of Broughton, Knt., (d. 1 October 1576) who was present at the Coronation of King James VI in 1567, possessed the barony of Broughton, with the additional superiorities of the Canongate and North Leith, having therein nearly two thousand vassals, according to Sir John Scott of Scotstarvit, writing in 1754.[2] Broughton passed to his son, Sir Lewis Bellenden, Knt., (d. 27 August 1591) Lord Justice-Clerk and a Lord of Session, who is cited as one of the Ruthven Raiders[3] and ultimately to William Bellenden, 1st Lord Bellenden of Broughton (d. 6 September 1671).[4]


Scattered houses on the farmlands which originally made up Broughton eventually gave way to more general housing in the century prior to the formation of Edinburgh's New Town which adjoined the parish of Broughton. Its modern borders are defined, approximately, as being Leith Walk in the south east, Broughton Street in the south west, Broughton Road in the north west and McDonald Road in the north east. Moving clockwise from south east, Broughton is bordered by Greenside and Calton, the New Town, Canonmills, and Pilrig.

Broughton StreetEdit

View north down Broughton Street, with the coast of Fife visible in the distance, over the Firth of Forth
Tenements in Broughton Street

Broughton's main thoroughfare is Broughton Street. The street has many independent speciality shops. Broughton is today at the centre of Edinburgh's "pink triangle", an area of the city with a number of gay bars and clubs.

Edinburgh's first traffic lights were installed in Broughton Street in 1928. The Scottish folk band Silly Wizard were based for some time in a flat located at 69 Broughton Street. Phil Cunningham, member of Silly Wizard and younger brother of the band's founder, Johnny Cunningham, lived in Broughton.

Edinburgh's oldest health food store, Real Foods, has traded on Broughton Street for over forty years. Opening in 1976 within a former drapers shop, the shop sells natural and organic food, with its goods being completely vegetarian or vegan.[5]

The Broughton Spurtle: Broughton's Free Independent Stirrer is a community newspaper for Broughton and adjacent areas in north-east and central Edinburgh [1]. It has been running since February 1994 and has no political, religious or commercial affiliation. It reports hyperlocally relevant political, planning, environment, transport, licensing, cultural, historic and plain odd stories, and tries to be equally rude to all sides without fear or favour especially during elections. Generally speaking, it does not see eye to eye with the Edinburgh Evening News.

Gayfield HouseEdit

Gayfield House

Gayfield House is a Category A listed building at 18 East London Street, Edinburgh. Father and son builders Charles and William Butler built Gayfield House between 1761 and 1764 as a stylish country villa combining Scots Palladian with Dutch details and a touch of French decor, within walking distance of the crowded Old Town of Edinburgh. In 1765 the Butlers sold it for £2,000 to Thomas, Lord Erskine (the eldest son of the Earl of Mar who had led the Jacobite rising of 1715) and his wife Lady Charlotte Hope. In 1767, after Lord Erskine's death it was sold to the David Leslie, 6th Earl of Leven. An entry in the Scots Magazine in 1766 states: "Marriage. June 10th. At Gayfield, near Edinburgh, the Earl of Hopetoun to Lady Betty Leven."

A late 18th century print shows Gayfield House standing in attractive grounds, surrounded by fields and by orchards, bounded to the South East by Leith Walk. The fortunes of the house gradually declined in the 19th century as Edinburgh expanded. Loss of garden ground and the ever-approaching tenements around made it less attractive as a private house. In 1873, it was sold to William Williams as Edinburgh's New Veterinary College.[6] This closed in 1904 and it was then bought by a merchant who stored manure in the downstairs rooms. After World War 1 it was used as a laundry which also manufactured ammonia and bleach. In the 1970s it was used as a garage and for car repairs, a hole was opened in its facade and the basement was used as a garage. By 1990 it had fallen into disrepair, was vandalised and much was stolen including carved wood and gesso chimneypieces. A roofer Trevor Harding bought it in 1991, renovated much of it and sub-divided the interior into basement and upper floors. He sold it in 2013.[7][8][9]

Gayfield SquareEdit

Gayfield Square Police station, which is featured in the Inspector Rebus stories written by Edinburgh-based writer Ian Rankin, is located on Gayfield Square in the south east of Broughton.[10]

Broughton High SchoolEdit

Broughton High School was formerly located in Broughton, but is now located further west in Comely Bank. The Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid undertook part of his formal education at Broughton High. Schools still located in Broughton include Drummond Community High School, Broughton Primary School and St Marys RC Primary School.


Among the notable church buildings in the Broughton area is the former Catholic Apostolic Church (1893–1901) on Mansfield Place at the foot of Broughton Street. The building, now called the Mansfield Traquair Centre, was designed in 1893 by Robert Rowand Anderson and is noted for its rich interior decoration with murals by the Irish Arts and Crafts artist Phoebe Anna Traquair.[11] At the top of Broughton Street on the cortner of York Place stands the large Gothic Revival St Paul's and St George's Church which was built 1816-1818 by Archibald Elliot and is modelled on King's College Chapel, Cambridge.[12] Half-way up the hill stood St Mary's Free Church, on the corner of Albany Place. This ornate Gothic building was erected 1859-60 by John Thomas Rochead and was demolished in 1985 to make way for a new office block.[13]



Lothian BusesEdit

  • 8 (Bellevue /Broughton Street)
  • 7, 14, 49 (Leith Walk)
  • 1, 4, 19, 26, 44 (York Place)
  • 10, 11, 12, 16, 22, 25 (Leith Walk /York Place)


Edinburgh Trams operate services to & from York Place tram stop, near the top of Broughton Street. This is currently the eastern terminus for the route.

Preceding station   Edinburgh Trams   Following station
St Andrew Square   Edinburgh Trams
Line 1


  1. ^ Grant, J. Old and New Edinburgh, vol. III, Cassell, Edinburgh, 1880s, p. 181
  2. ^ Balfour Paul, Sir James, The Scots Peerage, Edinburgh, 1905, vol.ii, p.64/5.
  3. ^ Balfour Paul, 1905, p.68-70.
  4. ^ Cokayne, G. E., edited by the Hon. Vicary Gibbs & H. Arthur Doubleday, The Complete Peerage, vol. iii, London, 1913, p. 19.
  5. ^ "Helping to keep our customers healthy for 40 years". Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  6. ^ The Veterinary Record:27 September 2003
  7. ^ Scott, Hamish (16 August 2013). "Beyond the Fringe, the wreck of ages". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  8. ^ Morris. "Gayfield House - East London Street". Edinburgh Past and Present Historic Houses. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  9. ^ "18 East London Street, Gayfield House Including Boundary Walls and Gatepiers, Edinburgh". British Listed Buildings. Historic Scotland. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  10. ^ "A question of blood and belonging". The Scotsman. 24 September 2004. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  11. ^ "The murals | Mansfield Traquair Trust". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  12. ^ Gifford, John; McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David; Wilson, Christopher (1991). The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Yale University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-300-09672-9. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Edinburgh, Albany Street, St Mary's Free Church | Canmore". Retrieved 12 June 2020.

External linksEdit