Location: 15-19 North Port, Perth PH1 5LU
Dating back to about 1475, the delightful “Fair Maid’s House” is the oldest secular building in Perth. The house inspired Sir Walter Scott’s book “The Fair Maid of Perth”, which was published in 1828.
La jolie fille de Perth (The Fair Maid of Perth) is an opera by Georges Bizet (1838–1875), based on Sir Walter Scott’s book, that was commissioned by Léon Carvalho, the French impresario and stage director. It was first performed at the Théâtre Lyrique (Théâtre-Lyrique Impérial du Châtelet), Paris, on 26 December 1867. At that time it was performed in Paris, Vienna, Germany, Geneva and Brussels.
The story of the “Fair Maid”, Catharine Glover, is set at the end of the 14th Century, during the reign of Robert III. Catharine is the beautiful and intelligent daughter of a “glover”, Simon Glover, a “burgher” or merchant. The novel features kidnap, murders and one bloodthirsty battle, the battle of the North Inch, in a time of lawlessness and plots against the Scottish monarchy. The highland clans, and the royals and nobles, all fighting for power. Three men fight for the love of Catharine, one a blacksmith in the town, one a royal Prince and one who is to return to his highland clan as a chieftain. Many of Scott’s novels, with their vivid characters and grand finales have inspired opera composers of all nationalities and this one is no exception.
A bronze statue of the Fair Maid can be seen sitting on a bench on Perth’s pedestrianised High Street. It was sculpted by Graham Ibbeson.
The Fair Maid’s house is now home to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. The North Wall of the house was once the southern wall of Blackfriar’s monastery. This was a Dominican Order, founded in Toulouse, France. The Dominican Friary was founded in Perth by Alexander II of Scotland in 1231, and by 1450 the Friary had expanded to occupy quite a considerable area of land.
It has been suggested that the little niche in the wall on the corner of the house was where a “curfew bell” was situated.
Accessibility information and information on visiting: The Fair Maid’s House, Perth – Science Centres | VisitScotland
Walking Route Instructions: To get to our next stop, continue up the cobbled street of the North Port, keeping the multi storey car park to your left and the road becomes Blackfriar’s Wynd. Continue along this road and it becomes Carpenter Street which will take you to Kinnoull Street where we will turn right. Cross to the other side of Kinnoull Street at the traffic lights and turn the corner into Atholl Street. Walk two blocks along Atholl Street then cross at the traffic lights across to St Ninians Cathedral, our next stop.