@ “Mavisbank repeats its love; and perhaps like James, you too can still hear the mavis sing in the long abandoned park, where Clerk’s beautiful house of 1724 still sits. Such survival, is all the more remarkable given the necessary expansion of Edinburgh into its skirt still green, and despite (and surely more evidently) past mitotic undermining of the shafts of the now redundant collieries of Bilston. It is a sad irony that the settlement within the body of Clerk’s villa was most certainly the result of the mines; the mines, minerals from which had brought his family stupendous wealth. It is necessary though to remember here the horrid, slave-like conditions of the miners of the 17th and 18th centuries (where work death was routine.) In stone then, and fabric, Mavisbank also symbolises a heinous incongruity of ‘taste’, which should serve as humble remembrance, that we all shape history – one way or another.”
Opening Chapter of ‘Repeats its Love’
Ventures into our past may sometimes seem without place – but with Mavisbank, the early 18th century villa of Baron Clerk, whose beauty transcends horrific neglect, the crumbling and subsiding stone has impassioned many in love and some in awe. How ‘disproportionable’ this may sound, to coin Baron Clerk’s quaint neologism, for stone, inanimate, cannot broker emotion. That may be, and whilst such feelings may be both misguided and misunderstood, others may still choose to dismiss Mavisbank as no more than an ornament or ‘dolls house.’ This essay will argue that such an outlook misses not just the beauty but the significance of Mavisbank.
When in 1987, Midlothian Council brought at late hour, the lead cannons of the wreckers to the courtyard of Mavisbank, they were only stopped by the man that is James Simpson. It is unclear how, but James Simpson, surrounded by…
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