Spotlight On Morningside
The genteel touch
It’s famous for its grand houses and refined residents but there’s more to Morningside than ladies who lunch, discovers Yasmin Sulaiman
Surely almost all Edinburgh inhabitants harbour a healthy respect for the Morningside Lady, for whom, it is often surmised, nothing is worth having if it cannot be bought in Jenners. Stereotypes aside, the average Morningside resident does have much to be proud of: this cosy south Edinburgh neighbourhood truly has an identity of its own. Barely 15 minutes away from the city centre by bus, its leafy streets are nestled between Bruntsfield, Comiston and Merchiston and its residents range across a wide spectrum, from wealthy Edinburgh pensioners to younger up-and-comers.
Morningside’s spiritual detachment from the city centre comes primarily from its self-sufficient nature; indeed, with well-stocked grocery stores and supermarkets, highly rated eateries and an inviting mix of traditional and trendy pubs all in the vicinity, there’s very little need to go into the city centre at all. Institutions like the Dominion Cinema, the Church Hill Theatre and The Canny Man pub – whose shiny brass plaque detailing the ‘rules of entry’ have made it the stuff of legend – are proud beacons of Morningside’s independence.
Newer additions like Loopy Lorna’s tea house and South African café Zulu Lounge have only boosted the area’s charming conviviality. For those hoping to dine in the area, the metropolitan Blueglass bistro offers a relaxed environment, while Indian restaurant The Clay Oven is popular with local residents. What’s more, Morningside’s genteel nature means that the area is teeming with florists, arts and crafts stores and two purveyors of chocolate goodies that are celebrated city-wide: S Luca and The Harvest Garden.
Famous Morningside landmarks include the Morningside Clock (formerly part of the railway station) and the plentiful local Morningside Library. Its stature is certainly lifted by its literary heritage, with Muriel Spark’s fictional Jean Brodie and Harry Potter author JK Rowling just two of the famous figures to have lived in the area. A sense of timelessness contributes to Morningside’s cultural heritage, while the picturesque qualities of nearby Blackford Hill and the Braid Hills continue to provide inspirational fodder for aspiring artists and writers.
Morningside’s tranquillity and proximity to green areas of the city (The Meadows is just a ten-minute walk away) continue to be an attraction for Edinburgh residents, with golf enthusiasts taking particular joy from the nearby Braid Hills Golf Course. The presence of Napier University’s Morningside campus also draws students to this side of town, providing a steady flowing market for the area’s abundant charity shops.
The nearby Royal Observatory visitors’ centre aims to introduce school children to the delights of astronomy.
While elsewhere, organisations such as Friends of the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill Nature Reserve aim to conserve the local attraction and promote environmental awareness in the locale.