One cannot fail to appreciate the beautiful stone buildings that make up James Court in Edinburgh. One of the most iconic locations in the city, it is one that has connections with some of the most important people ever to have lived and worked in the Scottish capital.
James Court is located in Edinburgh’s Old Town. It is worth a visit if you are ever in the area to see the beautiful architecture and stonework by some of the finest stonemasons in the Edinburgh area.
The early years of James Court
James Court was built between 1723-27 by an Edinburgh property developer called James Brownhill. The design was based on the nearby Milne’s Court and so a courtyard building of the finest exclusive apartments were built.
It wasn’t long thanks to the quality of the exterior stonework and the well designed interiors that James Court became one ofthe most desirable Edinburgh addresses. The flats that were in James Court were bigger, more spacious and much more airy than traditional Edinburgh tenements and this was reflected in the prices.
Famous residents of James Court
In 1762, the famous philosopher David Hume came to live in an apartment in James Court. As well as a philosopher, Hume was a historian and economist and he is best known today for his influential system of empiricism, naturalism and skepticism.
Hume was known to have loved his Old Town apartment in James Court and whilst on a trip to Paris he wrote to his friend Adam Ferguson: “…I wish twice or thrice a day, for my easy chair and my retreat in James Court”. However, as time went on like many of his contemporaries he desired to move to the New Town which was beginning to form, offering more spacious dwellings and he moved from James Court in 1770.
The very next tenant in David Hume’s old partment was another famous figure, James Boswell. Famous as a biographer and diarist, he is best known for the biography he wrote of the English literary figure Samuel Johnson.
From here he moved he and his family to a much larger James Court flat and it was here that he entertained Dr Johnson before their epic journey to the Western Isles.
James Court today
James Court like much of the rest of Old Town declined during the Victorian era although there were some attempts by people like Patrick Geddes who tried to regenerate the area. By enabling more and more people to take control of their own surroundings and bringing the university and local community closer together he managed to ensure that much of Old Town remains to this day.
Sadly a fire in 1857 destroyed many of James Court buildings but may be rebuilt in the 1890s. James Court still stands proudly in the city today and some of the apartments are available to rent for visitors who want to experience these beautiful buildings at first hand.