NT2674 : Singers' Memorial, Calton Hill

taken 8 years ago, near to Edinburgh, Great Britain

Singers' Memorial, Calton Hill
Singers' Memorial, Calton Hill
The 'Three Scottish Singers Memorial' next to the Calton Hill Steps is easily missed by the many visitors who climb the hill to view its monuments. All three men began their careers in the city as precentors leading congregations in the singing of psalms. It is not clear from the panel who was responsible for its creation.

John Wilson (1800-1849), a printer by trade, took up the study of music and after his debut at Edinburgh's Theatre Royal joined the Covent Garden company in London. He toured America for the first time in 1837, wowing audiences with his repertoire of old Scots songs. His 'Jacobite Entertainments' were sell-out concerts in Canada. In 1849, he was caught in a downpour in Quebec and, in his weakened condition. contracted cholera which proved fatal.

John Templeton (1802-1886) from Kilmarnock arrived in the city aged twelve and became a precentor in his teens. In 1822, he turned to professional singing and performed with numerous operatic societies in England. He won wider recognition when he stood in successfully for a singer who had withdrawn from the role of Don Giovanni at Covent Garden, a role for which Templeton had only five days to prepare. He became best known for his tours performing the songs of Robert Burns. He retired in 1852 and died in London aged 84.

David Kennedy (1825-1886) was born in Perth to a family with a tradition of being precentors in local churches. He gave up his trade as a house-painter in 1857 and after arriving in the city was appointed precentor at Nicolson Street United Presbyterian Church. He made his first appearance as a professional concert singer in Liverpool in 1859. After a successful tour of Scotland he set out for London in 1863, where he performed a marathon season of one hundred concerts in the Egyptian Halls, Piccadilly. He died in 1886 at the age of 61. According to a leading Victorian music critic, Kennedy was "by far the most perfect and dramatic exponent of Scots songs that Scotland has produced".

(Information from Duncan Campbell, Edinburgh, A Cultural and Literary History, 2003)


"Kennedy's song recitals in the Music Hall, Edinburgh, always drew crowded and enthusiastic audiences. Gifted with that pawky mother wit, on the platform as well as in private life, he rendered the auld Scots songs in a way that could never be forgotten. I can still recall his singing of 'The Barrin' o' the Door', and his vivid interpretation of the poet's meaning, which he conveyed to his hearers by his gestures on the platform. Kennedy not only sang the songs but acted them as well to the intense delight of the audience." -- Wilson McLaren, Edinburgh Memories, 1926

See also NT2571 : Grave of David Kennedy, the Scottish Singer, Grange Cemetery
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NT2674, 1059 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 3 April, 2013   (more nearby)
Saturday, 6 April, 2013
Geographical Context
City, Town centre  People, Events 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 2610 7409 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.2477N 3:11.1047W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 2610 7408
View Direction
NORTH (about 0 degrees)
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