The King's Wark on the Shore


Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Wall Art


Artist's Description

The old King’s Wark was “an extensive building that appears to have occupied the whole ground between the Broad Wynd and Bernard Street. The exact purpose for which it was maintained is not clearly defined in any of the early allusions, but it probably included an arsenal, with warehouses, and resident officials, for storing the goods and managing the revenues of the port.”

This building was burned down in 1544, during the “Rough Wooing”. Henry VIII had ordered “Put all to fyre and swoorde, burne Edinborough towne, so rased and defaced when you have sacked and gotten what ye can of it, as there may remayn forever a perpetual memory of the vengeaunce of God lightened upon them for their faulsehode and disloyailtye. Do what ye can out of hande…to beate down and overthrowe the castle, sack Holyrood house, and as many townes and villages about Edinborough as ye may conveniently, sack Lythe and burn and subvert it and all the rest, putting man, woman and child to fyre and sworde without exception, where any resistance shallbe made agaynst you” – this was Henry’s idea of diplomacy.

Mary had the King’s Work rebuilt in 1564 by John Chisholme, “comptroller of artiller”, and in 1575 it was converted to a hospital for the reception of patients recovered from the plague. In 1614 the King’s Work was given by James VI to his favourite chamber-chield, or groom of the chamber, Bernard Lindsay of Lochill, by a royal grant which empowered him to keep four taverns there. The area was called Bernard’s Nook, even after the Magistrates of Edinburgh took possession of the area in 1649: Bernard Street is named for him.

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