EDINBURGH EXPERT WALKING TOURS - BLOG
The third in my series showcasing highlights of Edinburgh's history with a numerical theme - check out numbers 1-3 and 4-6. This week we're getting dangerously close to double digits....
The Number 7: The Edinburgh Seven
A fairly magnificent group of women, assembled by Sophia Jex-Blake in response to her application to join Edinburgh's medical school being denied. The changes required to the course, she was told, to allow a woman to train would so great that for one woman it simply wouldn't be feasible - and as women didn't want to train as doctors it wouldn't be worth the university's effort to do so.
Undeterred, Jex-Blake took out an advert seeking other women who had an interest in joining the medical school, and rounded up another six potential students. Becoming known as the Edinburgh Seven, they applied to join the medical school in 1869 and were successful, becoming the first female students of medicine in Britain.
Alas their places at the university were protested by male students, who formed a riot to pelt the women with mud and rocks as they attended their examinations at Surgeons' Hall, and the university rescinded their admission, forcing Jex-Blake and her fellow women students ti complete their training elsewhere.
The University of Edinburgh finally allowed women to join its medical school in the 1890s.
The Number 8: Town Centres
Besides the main city centre areas of Old and New Town, Edinburgh has eight distinctly defined town centre spaces, many of which have developed from the amalgamation of outlying towns and villages into the city itself as Edinburgh grew and expanded.
The eight town centres are:
This collection of towns happened gradually over a number of years, and was happening until relatively recently - Leith only became formally part of Edinburgh during the 1920s.
Today these suburbs of the city are popular and bustling spaces that are popular with locals. Visitors are encouraged to travel a little further beyond the confines of the city centre itself, to see more of the areas that locals inhabit.
The Number 9: Henry IX
In St Andrew Square stands one of the largest personal monuments in the city, a Grecian column topped with a statue of Henry Dundas. Dundas was a powerful politician in Scotland during the eighteenth century, representing a majority of Scottish constituencies in the Houses of Parliament. He served as Minister for War under William Pitt the Younger, and later as First Lord of the Admiralty, a senior post in the Royal Navy.
Dundas wielded sufficient power across Scotland to gain the nicknames 'King Harry the Ninth', 'the Uncrowned King of Scotland', and 'The Great Tyrant'...
In 1806 Dundas became the last member of the British Houses of Parliament to be impeached, as a result of mismanagement of military funds during his time as political head of the Navy. It was later a matter of some controversy that the 150ft monument to Dundas in St Andrew Square was formally paid for "by contributions from officers and men of the Royal Navy"..!
Today Dundas's reputation as a politician hinges on actions he took to prevent the abolition of the slave trade in the UK - without his interventions, Britain may have abolished slavery around a quarter of a century before it was eventually outlawed.
Explore more of Edinburgh's history with my private city walking tours!
Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is run by Gareth, an adopted native of Edinburgh, with over 20 years experience of living and working in the city...
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