Beneath the outer layers of picaresque architecture in Scotland’s capital lies an intertwined mesh of closes and hidden alleyways. This is especially true of the Old Town, which is one of the most deceptively intricate areas in any city in the world. One such secret spot is White Horse Close, nestled away at the foot of the Royal Mile by the Canongate. A small courtyard surrounded by several picaresque buildings, the close was used as a coaching inn throughout the 17th century and is drenched in Apocrypha tempered by historicity.
The reported post of White Horse Close is considered so obviously false that historians do not consider it a deliberate attempt to deceive. The exaggerations and legends bestowed upon the space run the gamut of believability: from the name originating when Mary Queen of Scots’ white horse was stabbed on-premises to the age of the buildings themselves, the falsehoods of White Horse Close have come full circle and are part of its storied heritage.
White Horse Close is one of the many closes that lie on the Royal Mile. These closes are historically important because they are where the rich of the city used to live. The name of this particular close comes from the famous White Horse Inn, which was located here from the early 17th to the late 18th century. The close was restored in the 1950s and ‘60s, turning it into a modern-day vision of 17th century life. Some criticise it as being inauthentic, but for many it’s one of the most attractive locations on the Royal Mile. Since it is quite hidden away, it is often missed by tourists.