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Regent Morton's House, Edinburgh







Regent Morton's House, EdinburghJames, 4th earl of Morton's town house in Edinburgh is now a backpackers' hostel


Four storeys of 16th-century date, raised by a floor in the 17th century. Stair-tower at north end. Timber galleries shown in a drawing of 1857 projecting into Blackfriars Street have been removed. Other late alterations.

Ogee-pedimented door piece. In the tympanum is the coat of arms composed of a seated unicorn on left and right, front legs holding central shield which is topped by a crown. Nothing on shield. All carved in low relief.


The building that High Street Hostel is located in is a very famous building and was first built by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton who lived from 1525 – 1581. He acted as Regent of Scotland, becoming Lord Chancellor of Scotland in 1563.


High Street Hostel first opened its doors in 1985 and was, originally, the first independent youth hostel in Edinburgh. Since that time it has been home to thousands of guests from all over the world.

The building is more traditionally known as Morton House. According to the framed piece of masonry in the main reception area, 1564 is the likely date of original construction, but considerable rebuilding seems to have been undertaken c. 1600. Until the 19th century, projecting timber galleries overhung the street and the tower above the doorway outside used to be the stairway.

Blackfriars Street outside, would have been considerably narrower and was known as Blackfriars Wynd, after the Dominican Monastery that once stood at the foot of the slope. In 1520 Blackfriars Wynd witnessed a vicious ‘tulzie’ or street fight between the warring Douglas and Hamilton families, involving over a thousand spearmen. The incident is remembered by tradition as ‘Cleanse-The-Causeway’, because of the bloody mess that had to be mopped up afterwards.










Doorway to Morton's House


Regent Morton's House



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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024