Candlemaker Row History, Snow & Sunshine

The candlemakers moved to the Bristo area in 1722 when a fire in a candlemakers workshop killed the Deacon of the Bonnet Makers Guild. The whole trade was banished from the crowded streets. You can still see the worn inscription on the building containing the candlemakers’ arms which states (Omnia manifesta luce) – or “Everything clearly seen”.

However, the Cowgate’s history and that of the Grassmarket to which it leads, has been more closely associated with the rise of Protestantism than the continuation of the Old Religion. Which brings me – at last – to the treasure buried in the Cowgate, just to the east of its junction with Candlemakers’ Row. That treasure is the Magdalen Chapel.

The facade of the Magdalen Chapel merges with the line of the street so that, unless you look closely, you would scarcely know it was there. Below its modest tower, you will see the clue that tells you that you have reached the right place: the symbol of the Hammermen over the doorway. For this is one of the country’s last surviving guild chapels. The building also served as guildhall.

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