Glasgow - 'The Prospect of ye Town of Glasgow from ye South'

This view of Glasgow from the south across the River Clyde, shows the very distinctive steeple of the Merchants’ Hall, completed in 1665. Moving further right (from west to east) the next distinctive building is the squat structure of the Tron Church (1599) with its clock. Next should be the tolbooth (1626), a seven-storey high structure surmounted by a crown spire. Given a rather anonymous shape in the original drawing, it has been mistaken at a later stage for an ecclesiastical building and anachronistically surmounted by a large cruciform symbol. Beyond it are a cluster of spires representing the Old College (1656), the Church of the Blackfriars and the Cathedral.

Image from Theatrum Scotiae by John Slezer, 1693.

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  Read what Robert Sibbald wrote in Theatrum Scotiae about Glasgow


To the Right Honourable James Viscount of Stairs, Lord Dalrimple, Glenluce and Strenrare, President of the College of Justice, and One of the Lords of their Majesties Most Honourable Privy Council.


Glasgow is the most famous Empory of all the West of Scotland. Notwithstanding that it is inferior to many in Antiquity, yet if we respect the Largeness of the City, the Number and Stateliness of its publick and private Buildings, its Commerce with Foreign Nations, and the Opulency of its Inhabitants, it is the Chief of all the Cities in the Kingdom next to Edinburgh.

The City stands most pleasantly upon the East Bank of Clyde, which is navigable up to the very Tower, by Ships of small Burden; but New Glasgow which stands on the Mouth of Clyde, is a Haven for Vessels of the greatest Size. The City it self is joined to the Suburbs, which stand on the West Brink, by a beautiful Bridge of Eight Arches, built of square hewen Stone.

The most part of the City stands on a Plain, and is in a Manner four-square. In the very middle of the City is the Tolbooth, magnificently built of hewen Stone, with a very high Tower, and Bells which sound melodiously at every Hour's end. At the Tolbooth Four principal Streets crossing each other do divide the City as it were into Four equal Parts, every one of which is adorned with several publick Buildings.

In the higher Part of the City the Cathedral Church stands, commonly called St. Mungo's. It amazes the Eyes of the Beholders for its stupendious Bigness, and Artifice of its Structure. It consists of two Churches, of which the one is over the other. The several Rows of Pillars, and exceeding high Towers, do show a wonderful piece of Architecture.

Near to the Church is the Archbishop's Castle, fenced with an exceeding high Wall of hewen Stone, and looks down to the City; but the chief Ornament of the City is the College which was founded by King James the II. Pope Nicholas the V granting an Indulgence, and confirming it by his Bull to have the Rights and Liberties of a College, where general Learning should be taught. It was erected by the great Labour and Expences of that Reverend Prelate William Turnbull Archbishop of Glasgow.

The Words of the Bull for the founding of it, are, That general Study should flourish in the same, as well in Theology, and the Canon and Civil Law, as in all other Arts and Faculties; and that the Masters and Teachers there should enjoy all and sundry the Privileges, Liberties, Honours, Immunities and Exemptions which have been granted by the Apostolick See, or others, any other way, to the Masters, Teachers, or Students of our College at Bononia. The Fabrick of the College is remarkable, consisting of divers Courts. The fore-part of it towards the City is of an excellent Structure being of hewen Stone. The Precincts of the College are enlarged by some Acres of Ground, purchased by some Money granted to it of late by the King and Estates of the Kingdom. It is separated from the rest of the Town by an exceeding high Wall.

Who was Robert Sibbald?

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