A simple photograph quickly taken yesterday in Edinburgh's "Royal Mile" during the busy Edinburgh Festival and showing "Deacon Brodie's Tavern" which lies only a short distance downhill from Edinburgh Castle. And this tavern is named after a man who certainly did have a very, very dark side to his life.
A highly respected member of Edinburgh's society, William Brodie (1741-88) was a skilful cabinet-maker and locksmith and also a member of Edinburgh City Council as well as "deacon" (or head) of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons. However, unknown to most gentlefolk, Brodie had a secret night-time occupation.
By day, Brodie was a respectable tradesman, part of his job in building cabinets being to install and repair their locks and other security mechanisms and also to repair door locks. He socialised with the gentry of Edinburgh, and met the poet Robert Burns and the painter Sir Henry Raeburn amongst others.
At night, however, Brodie became a burglar and thief. He used his daytime job as a way to gain knowledge about the security mechanisms of his clients and to copy their keys using wax impressions. As the foremost wright of the city, Brodie was asked to work in the homes of many of the richest members of Edinburgh society and so his burglary brought him rich pickings - which he certainly required to fund his extravagant lifestyle which included two mistresses and a severe gambling habit.
Brodie reputedly began his criminal career around 1768 when he copied keys to a bank door and stole £800. He continued in this same vein yet his downfall did not come for another twenty years when, in 1788, he organised, with accomplices, an armed raid on an excise office in Edinburgh's Canongate, a plan which went badly wrong with Brodie and one of his accomplices being arrested, tried and subsequently hanged in front of 40,000 spectators in Edinburgh's High Street (from where this picture was taken) on 1st October that year.
Popular myth holds that Deacon Brodie built the first gallows in Edinburgh and was also its first victim. That is almost certainly not true. But what is true is that the Scottish novelist and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson, whose father actually owned some furniture made by Brodie, wrote a play entitled "Deacon Brodie, or The Double Life", which was unsuccessful. However, Stevenson remained fascinated by the dichotomy between Brodie's respectable façade and his real nature and was inspired to write the still very famous novel, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1886).
You can see a larger version of this photograph on "beta" TE here.
Critiques | Translate
jcpix (13820) 2014-08-06 16:32
The title didn't quite connect with the imagery until reading your detailed notes...and now it makes perfect sense, and subsequently, a perfect title! :) You just never truly know someone, right? :o
This is rather colorful on all accounts, and your timing was spot on to catch this group as they marched through the scene. So many interesting little details to scan over, I'm really enjoying taking a good close look at each individual...even the painted personnages on the side of the tavern wall.
This would have been a fine, and picturesque corner on its own, but the crowd infuses motion and life into the setting. Do you think that security camera is on the lookout for any modern day thieves that may be masquerading as honorable citizens...history would sure make it probable. Enjoy the new day. Take it easy.
Cheers from overseas,
photoray (13719) 2014-08-06 18:32
Good candid of the public strolling by the tavern connected to Stevenson's popular novel. The numerous potted flowering plants on the wall are the opposite emotion from the diabolic story.
And your note that Stevenson's play of the story was unsuccessful but his novel was very popular is interesting. We Yanks love the story and there has been perhaps a dozen movies and tv shows on it. And it has been the basis for many nightmares.
Thanks for sharing the image and the info,
berek (44431) 2014-08-06 22:32
What a lovely daily life picture. Very good framing and light managment . İ
emka (87568) 2014-08-06 22:55
Hello John, What is simple in this capture??? It is so rich in details. First, I love these red telephone boxes, great that they are still there even if probably not much used. Nice corner view of this old pub. Nice hanging surfinias and always my question who and how waters them, they are so delicate. and this crowd going looks very attractive too. Nice fresh:) shot from Royal Mile.
And what a fascinating note, really J@H. And how clever he was, pity that in dishonest direction. Thanks for sharing this story.
WArm regrads Malgo
jjcordier (79275) 2014-08-06 23:00
Une bien intéressante note qui accompagne la photo de cette taverne à la belle décoration.
carlo62 (39767) 2014-08-06 23:12
una composizione ricca di dettagli e colori, con molte persone che passeggiano e danno vita alla strada cittadina.
Bella inclusione delle classiche cabine telefoniche e molto caratteristico il locale ad angolo con le fioriere a dare colore.
La foto esprime molto bene il clima che si respira tra le strade di Edimburgh.
Royaldevon (33843) 2014-08-07 1:40
Ha! Ha! John, the end of your notes reminded me of Chris Evans' tenuous links. Who has a link to William Brodie!
The notes were certainly necessary, and very interesting in their own right, to make sense of your title. I just love history and how it links with the present. Thanks for this.
Your photograph certainly brings to life the public interest and their enjoyment of the Edinburgh Festival. The crowd, the flowers, the movement all excite interest.
You have composed the scene well, the corner of the tavern on the thirds line and giving a contrast of surfaces between the two areas.
The people are sharply captured and there is plenty of opportunity to peruse them for possible character studies. Love the guy in the f/g. Do you reckon he is a bit of an actor?
Have a great day,
holmertz (45938) 2014-08-07 4:34
This is a superb photo of everything one could ever ask for: people, architecture, fine colours and lots of interesting little details worth a careful look. To most of us the Deacon Brodie's Tavern would have been just any other pub, unless you had also told us the most fascinating story of that famous criminal. Surely this shows that a well written and carefully considered note is almost as important as a well taken photo.
saxo042 (37724) 2014-08-07 8:16
A very interesting note and also a very good picture. We were in Edinburgh in 2007 for the Tattoo but obviously we missed this pub. A lot of people here, they bring many fine colours.
macjake (62352) 2014-08-10 9:33
I guess back in the 1700's you could probably get away with SOOO much mroe than you can nowadays.
you could murder someone and get away with it if you're smart and clever about it.
it still amazes me that DNA for common lab research/investigation has only been used since the 1990's or so...hard to believe!
makes me wonder what the next 200-300 years will bring and how THEY will look back at US, as we look back at those in the year 1700!
wonderful photo here, you have certainly met and surpassed your 'people photo' quoto for the week lol
Brodies Tavern is a place i'll have to visit one of these days, i'll keep it in mind.
bright, clear, sharp, lots of activity with color bg subject. nicely done with the note too.
I posted 1 airshow photo, but many many more to come
willperrett (8781) 2014-08-12 0:50
This is a lively, busy street scene. But it's made much more significant by your fascinating note. Bright colours (which I don't mentally associate with Edinburgh), and plenty of activity. I think my eyes want a focal point, however...
williewhistler (15683) 2014-08-13 6:59
I am quite taken by the way most of the people appear to be`in step`,all striding purposefully past the den of iniquity that is Deacon Brodie`s Tavern.
It is the most colourful of street scenes perfectly in keeping with the colourful note, I`m sure that the same sort of argie bargie goes on today in various forms,mostly by politicians...
Warm regards Les.
annjackman (21061) 2014-08-14 5:43
Thanks for the very interesting note that explains the title! A super sharp and colourful image of the famous 'Royal Mile'. You even have red either side balancing the composition. The red shoes also draw my attention - it all works together very well indeed.
Best wishes, Ann
mkamionka (32949) 2014-08-20 6:04
the streets seem so full of history :)
Of course I know this story but I would not be able to associate it with the pub. Nice street scene and the people walking the street not only don't disturb but even add a nice touch, some life to the scene.
very well spotted. I have to take more photos with people I guess. What I like in this photo is feeling of luminosity, it seems so bright and colorful although there is no direct sunlight or so it seems.
- Copyright: John Cannon (tyro) (22406)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2014-08-05
- Categories: Daily Life, Festivals, Architecture
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, HOYA 67mm HMC SUPER UV(0)
- Exposure: f/4, 1/800 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Map: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2014-08-06 16:10