Mini Guide to Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Mini Guide to Stockbridge in Edinburgh
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh
Stockbridge is an affluent area of Edinburgh bounded by Comely Bank and the New Town. It lies under one mile from the West End, just a short 10 or 15-minute walk away.
This popular area retains a charming village-like feel and is famous for its bohemian vibe, having long been a favourite with artists, writers and musicians down the ages. Although it seems like a continuation of the New Town, its origins are quite distinct, having started as a small mill village cut off from the rest of the city by a timber bridge. This bridge, over the Water of Leith, is believed to have given the area its name and the current stone bridge dates from 1801.
The area was developed in the 1800s by the painter Sir Henry Raeburn, who owned much of the land in the district. Raeburn Place is named after him. Nowadays, it’s not easy to see where the New Town ends and Stockbridge begins, except for the architecture and design of the area. A great example of this is Ann Street (named after his wife), which, unlike New Town houses, were designed with gardens to the front. Ann Street is now one of the most desirable addresses in Edinburgh. Stockbridge has also been home to some other famous residents, including James Hogg the poet and novelist and the surgeon Sir James Young Simpson. The area was also home to the original Mrs Doubtfire, portrayed in the film by Robin Williams. She ran a rag-and-bone shop in South East Circus Place.
The area contains a mixed variety of architectural styles, including the Stockbridge colonies, which were built by the Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company as low cost housing for the working class. Ironically, they’re now very desirable and expensive!
The area is well known for its independent shops, galleries, cafes and bars, which gives the area a colourful and vibrant feel. The main shopping is to be found along Raeburn Place which offers everything from traditional butchers, a Post Office, travel agents, hairdressers, convenience stores, beauty salons, tailors and gift shops. Popular shops include Coco Chocolatier, I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger, the Artisan Bakehouse, Sheila Fleet Jewellery and the Flaubert Gallery. Stockbridge also has its own Farmers' Market every Saturday. The original stone-built entrance to the Stockbridge market can still be seen, just off St Stephen Street, which is well worth a five-minute detour to see.
There’s no shortage of pubs in the area. Some of the most popular being Stockbridge Tap, Hector's, The Raeburn, The Baillie and The Antiquary Bar. Popular restaurants include the Field Grill House, Suree Thai, Pizza Express, Kilted Lobster, The Scran & Scallie, Hamilton's and The Stockbridge. For coffee lovers, there’s a Cafe Nero and Starbucks on Kerr Street and a Costa’s further along at Raeburn Place. There are also lots of great independent cafes too like Grounds coffee shop and Smith & Gertrude - who should be wholeheartedly supported. Henri Fine Food and Wine emporium is a particular favourite and there’s a popular Waitrose supermarket close by in Comely Bank. The Craigleith Retail Park is only a short drive away by car.
One of Edinburgh’s best regarded schools, The Edinburgh Academy, is located in Stockbridge, which makes the area a big draw for many families. Fettes College is also within easy walking distance.
Stockbridge benefits from its own library and has an excellent community centre in Stockbridge House. Saint Stephen’s Stockbridge (built by William Henry Playfair) has been turned into a community arts venue and is now a huge asset to the area. There’s also the Victorian Glenogle Swim Centre, Dean Tennis and Squash Club and The Grange Club close by. There’s also a floatarium.
The area is very convenient for the Royal Botanic Garden and the Water of Leith Walkway, which flows right through the middle of Stockbridge. The short walk from Stockbridge to the next-door Dean Village, along the walkway, is really delightful and an absolute must-do if you’re in the area. While you’re on the walkway, don’t forget to visit St Bernard’s Well and also Mackenzie Bridge at Dean Terrace, which is very atmospheric. Inverleith Park and its wonderful huge model boat pond is also just a short walk away.
Stockbridge holds its very own festival every year - Stockfest (www.stockfestedinburgh.com), which brings together the whole community to celebrate all that’s great about this fantastic little neighbourhood. One of the quirkiest events to take place in the area is the annual Stockbridge Duck Race down the Water of Leith. Hundreds of ducks are released with the proceeds going to charity (I somehow managed to come a proud third one year!).
Stockbridge is a wonderful place to visit or live and the perfect place in Edinburgh to book a self-catering property or Airbnb flat.
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