Blackfriars or friar preachers (dominicans)
On or before 1230 AD, King Alexander II gifted to the order of Blackfriars in Aberdeen what had formerly been his 'Palace' and Gardens. This was situated approximately where the Robert Gordon's College and the Art Gallery now are on the north side of Schoolhill. Blackfriars Street today records the gift and situation. By 1338 the Blackfriars also owned substantial land and property here in the Castlegate.
The Castlegate is first mentioned in records of Aberdeen in 1107 AD.
Of Aberdeen's religious houses at the reformation, only the monastery of the Dominicans had no separate church. The Blackfriars owned land at Kintore, Banchory & Devenick and Dunnotar as well as the Castlegate and other town property. They became dissolute until friar John Adam, later principal of the order of Scotland and the first graduate in theology of King's College, took them in hand in 1503. The monastery, in ancient times, was a place of sepulchre of the family of the Earls of Marischal who were their chief patrons.
They prospered in Aberdeen until the reformation when on 4th June 1560 the reforming invaders from Angus looted the buildings and in 1587 all of their properties were granted to George Keith, 5th Earl of Marischal, the benefactor of Aberdeen's Marischal College.
Earl Marischal Hall, previously a religious property, was his town house. It was evidently the most imposing mansion in Aberdeen in the Middle Ages. Being a quadrangular building enclosing a courtyard, presenting a tower to the Castlegate, with a large garden extending southwards to roughly the line of Virginia Street, then the Harbour Line.
From a window in this building Mary Queen of Scots is said to have witnessed 'not without tears' the execution of Sir John Gordon, son of the Earl of Huntly, thought by many to be her lover, on the steps of the tollbooth opposite, after he was defeated and captured at the battle of Corriche in 1562.
'Old Blackfriars' is built on very ancient foundations and the basement is possibly the remains of the old church, which stretched over the top of Marischal Street. The town paid £800 for the Earl of Marischal Hall and about 1650 demolished it and created Marischal Street.
'The house of good fellowship and the centre of cheerful living'