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Glasgow's Ingram Street - The Statuesque Mistake

April 8, 2017

Ingram Street in the centre of Glasgow is one of the most curious streets in terms of architecture. You’ll see the lavish beauty of its buildings on our Glasgow’s Must Sees Tour,  as well as hear about the background of stories some of those that catch the eye.

 

The Hutchesons’ Hall is exactly this type of gem; its unique character has lasted through the centuries  and it remains a centre of attraction in a modern and drastically changing world.

 

A Long time ago, in the first half of the 17th century there were two brothers, George and Thomas Hutcheson - they were successful lawyers. Along with many rich people of their time they were philanthropic and built a hospital for old people and a grammar school for orphaned boys.

 

As the City grew and new streets were created, old buildings were being demolished or moved. The Hutcheson’s institutions acquired new addresses. The Grammar School (later becoming a private school), which is still running, moved to the Southside. Whereas the Hospital was rebuilt on Ingram Street by a promising Glasgow architect - David Hamilton, in the beginning of the 19th century.

 

The original statues of the patrons, painted with bright colours, were proudly erected in the niches of the façade, as if to commemorate the Hutchesons for their generosity and love towards the people.

 

In the beginning of the 20th century some old descriptions of the statues in old Scots and English were discovered. Thanks to the scrawl of the 17th century, there was some debate as to the type of stone described as being used. Some deciphered the writing as them being made of ‘marlar’ (old Scots word for freestone) from Loudoun in Ayrshire; others were sure that the statues had been made of pure ‘marmor’ (the Latin word for marble) from London.

 

To put an end to the debate the statues were stripped of their layers of paint (and bird excrement!)  and examined. And it proved that their material was as Scottish as the patrons themselves, indeed they were carved in freestone from Loudoun!

But the tale of the statues go even further. Their pedestals gave the dates death for each brother. Thomas Hutcheson’s pedestal accurately states he died in 1641 (he was born in 1590). However George’s originally stated he died in 1693 (and since he was born in 1550) making his lifespan 143 years! Now, even without the toxicity of the Industrial Revolution that would have been somewhat remarkable! In a botched attempt to fix the error, the 9 was changed to a 6 - thus making his death in 1663 - and still incorrect! Poor old George actually passed in 1639!

 

As you walk with your private Glasgow tour guide you can find out even more interesting and strange stories hidden in the city walls on one of our Glasgow sightseeing tours.

 

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