Perth – ‘The Vale of Virtue’

I took a tour in Perth, the city in which I was born, and where my oldest-known Stewart ancestor, James Stewart, kept a shop on Castle Gavel (a street by Horsecross and tracing the old castle gable) in the late 1780s.

As I was walking I came upon this drawing, an imagined depiction of a Carthusian monastery, similar to the one that was sited on the south-west side of Perth city centre.

I discovered that this Perth monastery, called the Charterhouse monastery or ‘The Vale of Virtue’, had been the only Carthusian monastery in Scotland. King James I of Scotland established it in the late 1420s. James I was brutally murdered in the town and buried at the monastery in 1437.

The Carthusians were a community of thirteen hermits who prayed together in the church but lived separately in tiny houses, each with a small garden. As a strict monastic order, they were perceived as closest to God. I could surmise that the rich and powerful wanted to be buried here to secure their path through purgatory to heaven.

The settlement was ransacked during the Reformation of 1559 after John Knox preached in St John’s Kirk. The remains were later demolished. Nothing remains of the building and the King James VI Hospital now stands on its site (founded by royal charter in 1569).

You can learn a lot from this walking tour in the City of Perth. It is about a two hour easy stroll. The information boards en route describe and bring to life many interesting aspects: the old waterways, the long-gone castles, the monastic orders and churches, the guilds and trades, the royal and noble connections, the battles, and much more.

Iain Stewart – March 2023