The story below was told by the late William, Lord Prosser, about the funeral of his grandfather, Sir John Prosser. Sir John lived at 15 Heriot Row with his daughter Helen, William’s aunt.

He tells us that when he was called to the bar in 1962 he remembers being delighted that his aunt Nellie allowed him to have his "chambers" in her flat at Number 15 - partly because it had been his grandfather's house, partly because it was fun to start off with chambers next-door to the then Lord President.

His beginner's practice meant that he had little real need for any chambers, but he very much enjoyed it when his aunt rang him to say that some envelope for him had come through the letter-box.  He would rush down to get it (usually only two guineas' worth) and spend an hour or two with her, always good value, on non-legal chat over a sherry or two, about books or music or the like.

His earlier memories included a funeral.

“My grandfather died in 1945.  He was 88, and in Edinburgh terms very much the Grand Old Man, with his knighthood, CVO and LL.D and having been solicitor to the King for many years.  My father and other younger partners being away during the War, my grandfather had stayed on in practice as a WS - though I suspect he might never have retired anyway! His wife had died long ago, during the 1914-18 war, as had his elder son, and he had for many years lived at 15 Heriot Row, where his elder daughter Nellie looked after him and ran the house.  His office was at 19 York Place, and he would walk home for lunch every day.

I remember him - but we had been away from Edinburgh from 1939 to 1943, and visits to see him over the last two years of his life were I think quite rare.  The memories are visual rather than personal, of someone called Grandad in his study, impressive with a mane of white hair, stirring himself to amuse my brother John and myself with the well-established magic of letting us open the lid of his gold watch by blowing on it...

A stronger memory is of the day of his funeral.  By then, I was ten and John was twelve.  In those days in Scotland, and even in Edinburgh, funerals were essentially for men, and we were deemed to qualify.  At Heriot Row, we men gathered in the book-filled study.  The curtains may not actually have been drawn, but the sun had plainly not been invited, and a dark gloom was apparently compulsory. 

The room seemed full, over-full, of heavily overcoated old patriarchs.  In my grandfather's huge chair was a baleful figure (the Senior Partner in Davidson and Syme, I am told) with the kind of bushy grizzled beard which one might hire for such an occasion.  I had not yet read Bleak House or Old Mortality - but I knew in the shared silence that we were in another age, another world.  Grandad was not in the study.  I suppose he had the dining-room to himself.  My brother recalls being asked if he would like to see him, and saying No.

Eventually a column of black vehicles set off for the Dean Cemetery, led by a hearse with Grandad safely invisible.  The two of us were in the next car with our father.  Still no mother or aunts or female cousins - or have I just wiped them from the record?

As we snaked round the bend into Moray Place a soldier in uniform snapped to attention and saluted the passing cortege, without moving until it had gone.  Autres temps, autres moeurs!  And at the Dean, by my first grave-side, I half remember - or perhaps just imagine? - my small, kilted and tweed-jacketed self, wanting only to escape.”

We men gathered in the book-filled study... the sun had plainly not been invited, and a dark gloom was apparently compulsory