“See you in the Gellions” - The history of the oldest pub in Inverness, heart of the Highlands capital
Situated with entrances on to Bridge Street and Church Street this place is the hostelry right in the heart of the historic Highland capital of Inverness.
At the bottom of Bridge Street stands the Ness Bridge latest of many that have come and gone by flood or redevelopment. This Ness Bridge opened 1961 which led to the demolition of the South side of Bridge Street, opposite the Gellions, including Ettles Hotel where poet Robert Burns stayed in September 1787. Robert Burns was not the only famous poet to visit this street, the worlds worst poet William Topaz McGonagall (namesake of our Inverness Steakhouse Restaurant) lodged at the Gellions Hotel where he recited his works to the Heather Blend Club.
This short street saw over the centuries many historic comings and goings. The beautiful but tragic Mary Queen of Scots, stayed in lodgings in a house down from the Gellions after having been refused entrance to the castle by the Governor who sided with her opposition, she rallied local clans, captured the castle then hung the Deputy Governor (Hell has no fury like a woman scorned).
After his capture by betrayal at Assynt in the North, the brilliant Royalist leader, James Graham Marquess of Montrose, passed up Bridge Street on his way to be executed in Edinburgh in 1650, his legs tied under a pony to the town hall where the Provost poured him a glass of wine saying he was sorry to see him in such circumstances, Montrose had besieged Inverness without success.
The Steeple -
The Town clock Steeple chimes its message every hour beside the Gellions on its Church Street/Bridge Street corner. This Georgian Steeple erected beside the adjoining Court House and jail in 1791 rises 45 metres. Sir Hector Munro of Novar presented the clock in 1792.
The Castle -
The Castle, formerly known, as Fort George was blown up in 1746 during the last stage of the Jacobite Risings by the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie to prevent it falling into the hands of the government troops. The Castle then lay in ruins until 1836 when the South part was rebuilt as a Court House. The Northern part was then built in 1846 and served as a jail until Porterfield Prison opened in 1903. Porterfield, the porter’s field, was named after the Castles porter who grew vegetables there.
The Town House - Opened in 1882. The paved area in front known as The Exchange where merchants in the past conducted business. Here also stands the Merket Cross, restored in 1903, its base embodying the Clach-na-Cuddain stone which translates as “The Stone of the Tubs” so called because before the days of piped water the towns washer women, having done their wash in the shallows of the River Ness - carrying back water, rested their tubs or pales on the stone and lingered for a gossip.