Edinburgh World Heritage - Life in Auld Reekie - Night

Life in Auld Reekie - Night

"Now some to porter, some to punch,
Some to their wife, and some to their wench,
Retire whie noisy ten-hours drum
Gars a' your trades gae dand'ring home"
Auld Reekie by Robert Fergusson

At ten o'clock every night the town guard would sound their drum, marking time for the streets to clear. But that did not mean that all the city went to sleep...

Edinburgh's night life centred on its many drinking clubs, and Robert Fergusson was a member of the Cape Club. It met in the Isle of Man tavern off Craig's Close, and every member adopted the title of knight for the gatherings. Here the lowly court clerk rubbed shoulders with artists, councillors, tradesmen and academics. As with all aspects of life in the old city, rich and poor were mixing together.

Another popular venue was the Oyster Cellar, a basement club where oysters and punch were sold and both men and women could drink and dance all night. Edward Topham was invited to one, "...the innocent freedom of their manners, and their unaffected good nature, all conspired to make us forget we were regaling in a cellar."

With the building of the New Town though this colourful nightlife gradually disappeared. New Town houses with their bigger and grander public rooms, allowed the owners to entertain at home with private parties and dinners.


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