Origin of Name: Bruntsfield named after Richard Broun, a King's Sergeant in the latter 1300s, who was given the land in lieu of payment. This area is now known as Marchmont. The modern day Bruntsfield has only existed since the early1800s.
Greenhill deriving from the Greenhill estate and possibly referring to the cultivated land that bordered the heathland of Bruntsfield Links with a slight hill.
Position: Tollcross to the north, Merchiston to the west, Marchmont & Grange to the east and Morningside to the south. See map above.
Historical Notes: The western section of the ancient Burgh Muir (a wooded area from The Meadows south to Canaan Lane, west to Bruntsfield Road and east to Dalkeith Road in modern terms) was feued by the council in 1586 and the Greenhill Estate was established. In 1636 the Aitkenhead family sold the estate to a John Livingstone who died of the plague and is buried in a private cemetery in Chamberlain Road that is open to the public. His son built Greenhill House over an existing house around 1670 between what is now Bruntsfield Gardens and Forbes Road. By 1882 the Bishop of Argyll owned the estate and he sold it onto a firm of builders. The house was demolished in 1884 and 3 great quarries opened on the estate which would provide the stone to build most of the tenements and villas in Greenhill & Bruntsfield. However, parts of the estate were feued in 1840 and villas were built in Greenhill Gardens in 1852.
Some of the earliest buildings in the area are on Bruntsfield Place just below the Bruntsfield Hotel and were built in 1826. The hotel itself was constructed in 1863 by joining 3 villas. The huge imposing gothic style church called Barclay church was built in 1864 and was built on the site of something much older.
Around Gillespie Crescent stood a castle which when it was built in the mid 14th century was at the edge of the Burgh Muir. It was called Wrychtishousis and belonged to the Napier family (not related to the Napiers of Merchiston). The origin of the name is a mystery and it was demolished in 1800. In 1802 Gillespie's hospital was built on the site and that in turn was demolished in 1975. Around 1719, a James Brownhill feued part of the Burgh Muir and built the Golfhall tavern. A small village grew up around it and was known as Wrights Houses. It stretched across what is now Bruntsfield Place and the eastern part survived the longest. There is still a street called Wrights Houses on the edge of the links but the original cottages fell into disrepair and the buildings there today are more recent, the oldest dating to the mid/late 18th century.
Today: An affluent area with Greenhill being almost all residential with many large villas. Bruntsfield has a mixture of large tenement flats and villas and also a variety of specialist shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. The Churchhill theatre is at the southern end of the area.
Did you know: Bruntsfield Links are the only remaining part of the old Burgh Muir and seem to have escaped development due to the link with golfing. It is said to be Edinburgh's earliest golf course, the game being played there as far back as the 15th century.
The old Wright's Houses Toll stood just opposite the present day Auld Toll bar in the days when tolls were regularly paid to pass from one area to another.
What we would describe today as Bruntsfield is built on the Greenhill estate which stretched from Churchhill to Whitehouse Loan and Bruntsfield Links to Burghmuirhead just off Morningside Road. It was extended in 1806 to Newbattle Terrace. Bruntsfield Avenue is just over the border in Merchiston.
Links: http://www.merchistoncc.org.uk/pages/home.asp area shared between Merchiston & Tolcrss community councils