Edinburgh’s horrible history, beautifully illustrated

Oct 7, 2017 | Blog

We just can’t believe our luck! We’ve had the super talented Mister Peebles at The Red Door Gallery this week, creating a wonderfully dark and mysterious window display of animal themed art works and a hand crafted cityscape. It is a remarkable depiction of Edinburgh’s horrible history, beautifully illustrated!

Mister Peebles is a shy and retiring fellow. He likes nothing more than a strong tea (or G&T) and sitting down with his unusual animal companions. This shy gent doesn’t have many human pals, except for one incredible lass whose name is Helen. Helen and Mister Peebles worked their socks off choosing gruesome tales to create lively these illustrations. Inspiration came from the tales of Burke and Hare, Greyfriars Bobby and The Great Lafayette.

Locals and visitors to Edinburgh will be familiar with the tale of Burke and Hare, Edinburgh’s most infamous historical residents. Mister Peebles has captured their likeness in a style true to trademark form – as Mr Bearke and Mr Hare!  Prints are available in various sizes, and look rather dashing framed up.

In 17th Century Scotland, Burke and Hare were body snatchers and murderers who profited by selling their victim’s bodies for medical research. Along with their wives, the duo were caught and tried for an unthinkable 16 murders in 1828. In order to escape punishment, Hare named Burke as the mastermind and killer, then left Edinburgh and vanished in obscurity. Burke was sentenced to death by hanging, and fittingly, his body was used for medical research. His skeleton is still exhibited at Edinburgh’s Anatomical Museum.

At the start of the 20th Century, The Great Lafayette was the highest paid illusionist in the world. He brought his act to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre for a sell out run. During the final act “The Lion’s Bride” in which the magician magically switches place with a red lion, a lamp caused the stage to set fire. The entire cast and all the animals died onstage. The body of the Great Lafayette was recovered and sent for cremation.

Days later a papier-mâché hand was found on set pointing to another body, wearing the magician’s famous rings. The first body turned out to have been his stage double in identical costume. Lafayette’s funeral went ahead with the right body and was a huge spectacle with a procession, masses of mourners and floral tributes. The magician, along with his beloved dog Beauty, is buried at the Piershill Cemetery on Portobello Road, Edinburgh.

The wonderuflly hand crafted window display includes a painted city scape with realistic details included, can you spot Mr Burke and Mr Hare’s real portraits looking out over the city, och it gives us the chills!The last of Mr Peebles’ new works is a range of prints and cards inspired by Greyfriars Bobby. The story goes that after his owner John Gray died, this loyal little Skye terrier sat beside his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirk yard everyday for 14 years, until his own death. A statue of Bobby can be found on George IV Bridge and is Edinburgh’s smallest listed building. This statue is just round the corner from The Red Door Gallery and for almost a century and a half, has been a tourist destination for international dog lovers.  The statue features in Mr Peebles stunning window display as above.
Huge thanks go to Mr Peebles for her work installing our Halloween Window; we hope you have the chance to enjoy her work as the nights draw in and the nights of Trick or Treating, Guising and Bonfire draw near!





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Great, thanks again and we look forward to keeping in touch with you :)