Audio Point Eleven – John Knox House and the World’s End.

A short sample from Edinburgh Audio Guide – Audio Point Eleven.

John Knox House.

John Knox House is one of the oldest and the most picturesque buildings on the Royal Mile. It is named after John Knox, a Scottish theologian and religious reformer who was a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland in the 16th century.

John Knox spent the last years of his life in this house. It is said that he was often seen preaching to the townspeople from one of the windows of the house.

The building was originally built in the late 15th century by a wealthy merchant James Mosman – a goldsmith to Mary Queen of Scots. 

Mossman was a prominent Catholic who got caught up in the turmoil of the Scottish reformation, lost all his possessions and was sacked from his position as the master of the Royal Mint. He was held prisoner in Edinburgh Castle at the time when John Knox stayed in his house.

The entrance to the house is still adorned with Mosman’s coat of arms, initials and an inscription.

The exterior of the house is particularly appealing. Timber galleries extended from the first floor and forestairs leading directly to the upper rooms were a common feature of the houses along the Royal Mile.

On the ground floor you can see the remnants of medieval ‘luckenbooths’, or locked booths, once rented out as shops.

The interior of the house is just as pleasing with its spiral staircases, low ceilings, exposed wooden beams and beautifully painted ceiling.

The house has been restored and contains exhibits about the life and work of John Knox, as well as the history of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland.

The World’s End.

“The World’s End” is a pub on the Royal Mile next to the place where the gates to the city once stood. The exact location of the gates is marked by brass cobbles on the road.

The main gate to the city called Netherbow Port formed part of the ancient Flodden Wall which stood to protect the city. The wall was built in the 16th century following the 1513 battle of Flodden between England and Scotland during which James IV of Scotland was killed.

For residents of the city the gate in the city wall was truly The Worlds End. People were free to leave Edinburgh but to pass through the gate and enter the city everyone, including residents of Edinburgh, had to pay a fee or a toll.

For impoverished residents of the city who couldn’t afford to pay the fee, the gates to the city were the end of the known world. Many of them spent their entire lives trapped within the confines of the city walls.