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Meet The Residents

Our Guides Bring The History of The Close to Life

Meet the residents… Your experience at The Real Mary King’s Close will be brought to life by one of our costumed character tour guides. Each of them characterises a former resident who really lived, worked and died on the closes of Old Town Edinburgh.

The Maid 1535 Agnes Chambers

Meet Agnes, a household maid serving the merchant burgess, Alexander Cant, in the year 1535. Little does she know that her life is about to take a dramatic and unexpected turn in the midst of a murder in his house on Craig’s Close.

  • Occupation: Household maid.
  • Likes: Meticulously tending to her master’s Quaich collection. Also, returning home after a long, tiresome day.
  • Dislikes: The hours between 10pm and 7am. This marks the time for “Gardyloo!”.

The Poet 1771 Robert Fergusson

Meet Robert, a well-known poet and the literary inspiration to none other than Robert Burns. It’s 1771 and the notorious ‘Cape Club’ is in full swing. However, it’s only a matter of time before tragedy strikes for one of Edinburgh’s most celebrated writers.

  • Occupation: Poet.
  • Likes: Debating important matters and visiting the Royal Exchange Coffee House on Craig’s Close, where ideas flow as freely as the coffee.
  • Dislikes: A shortage of ale and bad punctuation.

Foul Clenger 1645 Walter King

Meet Walter, an often overlooked hero of the harrowing 1645 plague epidemic. He fearlessly risked his life to cleanse the homes of those afflicted. If you look closely, you might catch a glimpse of his distinct uniform adorned with the St. Andrews cross.

  • Occupation: Head of Edinburgh’s Foul Clengers
  • Likes: The smell of burning and “miasma”-free air.
  • Dislikes: Corpses and rats.

Plague Doctor 1645 George Rae

Meet Dr George Rae, a distinguished physician who played a pivotal role during the second and most devastating outbreak of the plague in Edinburgh. His dedication to serving the city council and his pioneering contributions to the emerging medical sciences in Edinburgh set him apart from his contemporaries.

  • Occupation: Plague Doctor.
  • Likes: Being rewarded handsomely for his essential work.
  • Dislikes: The proliferation of disease.

Last Resident of The Close 1897 Andrew Chesney

Meet Mr. Chesney, the last resident of Mary King’s Close. In a poignant turn of events, he found himself compelled to vacate his cherished lodgings to make way for the expansion of the Royal Exchange building.

  • Occupation: Sawmaker.
  • Likes: His very own “thunderbox” and lion-head door knocker.
  • Dislikes: The thought of having to bid farewell to his beloved residence. Additionally, he’s none too pleased with customers who fail to pay.

Find out more about past residents on our blog.


Read more about Mary King, the namesake of The Close

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