Heritage & Monuments

Tolbooth Steeple

Scotland / Europe

The Tolbooth Steeple is a solid, square, seven-storey tower topped with a blue-faced clock and a stone crown, built between 1625 and 1627. It is all that survives from a large five storey high late Renaissance building called the Tolbooth which combined the council hall and the town jail. In its day the Tolbooth played an important part in the doling out of justice. Murderers were hanged just East of here outside the East gates at the Gallow Gate or Gait. There was also a platform from which proclamations were read. In the 18th century along the Trongate the Tobacco Lords often paraded on their especially lit paved area in front of the building. In the 17th century Daniel Defoe, describes the building as ornate and beautifully carved with Rose and Thistle. This was also once an important hub with stagecoaches from Edinburgh and London bringing visitors here, but as the city moved westwards, it was abandoned. In 1915 there was a plan to move the steeple to Mercat Street but this came to nothing. Then in 1921 the City Improvement Trust demolished the Tolbooth. Today the steeple stands alone at Glasgow Cross, on a small island surrounded by roads, a scene which was immortalised in a painting by L.S. Lowry.

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