More than 55 Chevening Scholars headed to Scotland to explore the hidden passageways beneath the city of Edinburgh. 

At the ‘Mary King’s Close Underground Tour of Old Town Edinburgh’ event, scholars were given a unique opportunity to visit an important and famous part of Edinburgh’s history, hearing tales about the plague, pestilence, and murder.

Social Media Ambassador Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh gave us her account of the day:

‘Imagine, for a moment, going back four centuries in history to understand the culture and way of life of the people living on and within the vicinity of Mary King’s Close, and hearing the different stories and mythology that have been told about the Old Town’s Residents over and over again.

My reflection, after an enjoyable one hour tour, was not that of horror, being scared, my heart panting or being out of breath like what some might think.

Instead, I thought more about this historic moment in time; a mesmerizing experience of the 1600s. A time when the rich and the poor lived together, where paying tax was dependent on if you had wall paper and a glass window, where you had to use an outer staircase hanging from a 14 storey building to climb into your house.

If you have keen interest in public health like myself, the tour allows you to understand the behaviour behind the communicable diseases in that era, the black plague, bubonic plague or typhus, and the notion that this was some sort of curse while the rodents were having holidays.

There were also stories of doing the right things for the wrong reasons, like in the case of the doctor who dressed rather comically in a scary head piece and leather suit that he thought scared off evil spirits but luckily protecting himself from the transmission of disease from his patients to himself. 

Thank you Chevening for continuing to make my journey an exciting one.. see you soon on another event in the U.K.  #MyCheveningJourney.’