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Greyfriar’s Bobby



  • Writer's pictureElle

Greyfriar’s Bobby

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

What is the story behind Greyfriars Bobby? Constable John Gray, a police watchman for the Edinburgh City Police needed a watchdog to patrol the streets of Edinburgh to keep the peace. Constable Gray chose a Skye Terrier as his companion and he gave him the name ‘Bobby’. He was a police dog, after all.

The nights of October 1857, were cold and wet. Nonetheless, Constable Gray and Bobby patrolled the streets. Constable Gray developed a nasty cough that autumn, which sadly developed into Tuberculosis. Bobby, the loyal companion, remained by Constable Gray`s side as he continued to get weaker and weaker, to the day of his death and beyond. The day after his master’s funeral, James Brown, the keeper of Greyfriars Kirkyard, found Bobby lying on top of the newly made grave. Dogs were not permitted in the Kirkyard in 1858, therefore, Bobby was sent away. The following morning, James discovered Bobby had found his way back to his master’s grave. He took pity on Bobby, and in return, the Skye Terrier made the Kirkyard his home.

Image by Lucy Thorn from Pixabay

In years to come, Bobby would be seen in or around the Kirkyard. He soon became a local favourite, and was well looked after by the folk of Edinburgh. Bobby made many friends. Daily, at the sound of the One O’clock Gun, he would appear at the restaurant which he and Constable Gray had visited frequently. Every week. Sergeant Scott of the Royal Engineers of Edinburgh Castle would treat him with a steak. However, Bobby remained loyal to his master guarding his grave for 14 years.

In 1867, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh paid for Bobby’s licence and gave the dog a collar.

Bobby lived in Greyfriars Kirkyard, watching over his beloved master until his own death in 1872, where he was also laid to rest just a stone's throw away from Constable Gray's grave.

To this day, many people cherish the story of the wee Skye Terrier Bobby and lay a stick on his grave. As all stories, the story of Bobby has been told many different ways, this is the one I know.


What do you give a tourist guide for Christmas?

As you all know we love Scotland, Arts and Culture - and Dan is particularly passionate about a certain lovely wee statue in Edinburgh: Greyfriar’s Bobby.

The sculpture we know today was created by William Brodie in 1873, and a new “trend” caused all the fuss. About nine years ago (2011) someone came up with a new story and custom: “It brings luck if you rub Greyfriar’s Bobby's nose.” The idea spread like a wildfire and in 2014, a restoration was needed for the first time, as the wee nose was rubbed down to the bronze, exposing the statue to the elements for the first time in a century.

Denny Hunter, an art facilitator from Edinburgh is equally passionate about the beloved wee statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby, and set up a crowdfunding campaign to restore the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby for generations to come. Your perk is your very own framed Greyfriar’s Bobby nose. When I came across this amazing idea, I just knew I had to support this campaign. Furthermore, I knew my dear husband would be giddy as a school boy opening this present, and surely enough he was. My only challenge will be to make sure he does not take the nose with him on his tours.

So please if you see Greyfriar’s Bobby, please do not rub his nose, why don`t you bring him a wee stick for his grave instead?

If you would like to support Denny Hunter`s campaign:

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