The King James Room
This room is the first floor of the original Tower and is accessed three quarters of the way up the stairs. This room is a Twin or Superking room. The room has a toilet in one cubby, a sink in another, and a beautiful roll-top bath in one of the recessed windows. One of the other windows, which has been bricked up many years ago, now has a beautiful mirror window, making a stunning and unique dressing table.
The link to King James, after whom this room is named, is that Jock Houison, a lowly peasant farmer outside Edinburgh at the time of King James II or III, saved the King from being attacked on Cramond Bridge.
Jock, busy threshing corn in his small cottage near the bridge heard a commotion outside, and on investigation saw a well dressed gentleman being attacked by muggers. Arming himself with his scythe, Jock went to the aid of the gentleman, and having successfully fought off the attackers, Jock then took the well dressed stranger into his humble dwelling, and tended the man’s wounds and gave him simple hospitality. Later, Jock accompanied the man back towards Edinburgh to ensure his safety. As they talked Jock told his new acquaintance of his work on the King’s farm, and the gentleman introduced himself as the ‘Goodman of Ballengiech’. Jock was then asked what the one thing he would most want in the world. Jock’s answer was honest and heartfelt, as he replied, to own the farm on which he worked would be his greatest wish. When they departed, Jock was invited by his new friend to visit him at the Castle the following Sunday.
Jock arrived at the gates, and on asking, an obviously well briefed sentry, for the ‘Goodman of Ballengiech’ was allowed to pass, where he was welcomed by the Goodman. An extensive tour of the castle ensued, culminating with Jock being asked if he would like to meet the King. The farmer was beside himself with excitement but said he didn’t want to cause any trouble. The Goodman suggested they go to the main hall where he was sure that they would find the King, among his noblemen and courtiers. Jock, wary of the pending encounter enquired of his host how he would recognize the King. The Goodman replied that when they came into the royal presence the King would be the only one wearing a hat. Reassured, they entered the great hall together, which was packed with courtiers. Petrified, Jock scanned the room to recognize his hatted monarch, but quickly concluded who his host really was saying to his host “It must be either you or me for all but us two are bare headed”.
Most amused by this, the King made Jock a present of the farm of Braehead, and it is claimed conferred that he and his descendants would be free of all taxes and duty in the land of Scotland, (which unfortunately is rather difficult to prove). In return, Jock and his successors should be ready to present a ewer and basin for the monarch to wash his hands, either at Holyrood Palace or when passing by Cramond Brig.
This service was first called upon, at the instigation of Sir Walter Scott, in 1822 after a city banquet in Edinburgh in honour of King George IV. The then Laird of Craufurdland, William Houison Craufurd, was assisted by the son and nephew of Sir Walter Scott. The ceremony is now carried out once a reign by three members of the family, using the original silverware. Simon’s Father, Peter has performed it for Elizabeth, the late Queen, and also her father George VI.
The same story told in a different way by Major-General Alastair Andrew Bernard Reibey Bruce OBE KStJ VR DL, Governor of Edinburgh Castle and a journalist and television correspondent commenting on Queen Elizabeth II funeral cortege as it goes over Cramond Brig.