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Marchmont is a mainly residential affluent area of Edinburgh, Scotland. It lies roughly a mile to the south of the Old Town, separated from it by The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links. To the west it is bounded by Bruntsfield; to the south-southwest by Greenhill and then Morningside; to the south-southeast by The Grange; and to the east by Sciennes. The name comes from an old name for Roxburgh Castle, a now destroyed royal fortress in the Scottish marches.
The whole area was developed as a planned middle-class tenements suburb by Sir George Warrender, the owner of Bruntsfield House and the surrounding estate (also known as the "Warrender Park") in the mid 19th century. The original feuing plan laid out by architect David Bryce in 1869 called for mainly terraced villas, with a number of large, detached villas on Marchmont Road. However, this was superseded by a later plan that proposed all buildings were four or five-storey tenements. The name Marchmont was originally only used to refer to Marchmont Crescent, Road and Street, but is now used for the whole area. The Warrender name has been retained in the streets Warrender Park Crescent, Road, and Terrace, and also in the Warrender Swim Centre, traditionally known as Warrender Baths.
The buildings are almost exclusively four-storey tenements. The earlier Victorian buildings are mostly pink sandstone in a form of Scottish baronial style, by architects such as Edward Calvert, while the later Victorian and Edwardian buildings are often in blonde sandstone, and in a plainer, more uniform style. Later blocks include work by Hippolyte Blanc, John Charles Hay and Thomas P. Marwick. Key buildings such as churches are often by the then city architect, Robert Morham.
Originally, the area was not allowed to have any premises selling alcohol, and although that is no longer the case, there are only a small number of licensed premises. As of mid 2008, the Earl of Marchmont was refurbished and reopened. Other licensed premises include the Argyle Bar, The Hide and the Links Hotel. There are also a number of off-licensed shops.
Due to its proximity to the city centre, the presence of local amenities, and generally being considered a pleasant area, it is considered a fairly desirable location to live in. This is reflected in high house prices, though these are now typical of most of Edinburgh. It is highly popular with students, with both Edinburgh University and Napier University within easy walking distance. There is a certain friction between permanent residents and temporary ones (many of whom are students), with the Marchmont Action Group Promoting Initiatives for the Environment (MAGPIE) unsuccessfully petitioning the Scottish Parliament to impose quotas on shared accommodation by restricting the number of Houses of Multiple Occupation Licences (HMO’s) granted for the area.
James Gillespie's High School has been in its present building in Marchmont since the 1960s. However an extensive rebuilding programme has started that will see the existing school demolished, in stages, and a new school built on the existing site. Local churches include St. Catherine's-Argyle and Marchmont St. Giles — both Church of Scotland. Both host various community activities including a playgroup.
Marchmont in fiction
The once James Gillespie's High School for Girls on Warrender Park Crescent was the school attended by Muriel Spark, and the lead character (and school) in her book, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie are said to be very closely based on her experiences there.
- Cant, Malcolm Marchmont in Edinburgh Edinburgh: J. Donald, 1984.
- Cant, Malcolm Marchmont, Sciennes and the Grange Edinburgh: Cant, 2001.
- Edinburgh Council - Marchmont, Meadows & Brunstfield Conservation Area Appraisal, 2006