Short form of "The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews". Often referred to as the birthplace of modern golf, which has been played here since before 1457 CE, when it was banned by King James II because it interfered with archery practice.

Also, a public golf course in Overland Park, Kansas.

St. Andrews is the second chapter of Samuel Johnson's book Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, about a trip he took in 1773. The previous chapter was Inch Keith and the next is Aberbrothick.
At an hour somewhat late we came to St. Andrews, a city once archiepiscopal; where that university still subsists in which philosophy was formerly taught by Buchanan, whose name has as fair a claim to immortality as can be conferred by modern latinity, and perhaps a fairer than the instability of vernacular languages admits.

We found, that by the interposition of some invisible friend, lodgings had been provided for us at the house of one of the professors, whose easy civility quickly made us forget that we were strangers; and in the whole time of our stay we were gratified by every mode of kindness, and entertained with all the elegance of lettered hospitality.

In the morning we rose to perambulate a city, which only history shows to have once flourished, and surveyed the ruins of ancient magnificence, of which even the ruins cannot long be visible, unless some care be taken to preserve them; and where is the pleasure of preserving such mournful memorials? They have been till very lately so much neglected, that every man carried away the stones who fancied that he wanted them.

The cathedral, of which the foundations may be still traced, and a small part of the wall is standing, appears to have been a spacious and majestick building, not unsuitable to the primacy of the kingdom. Of the architecture, the poor remains can hardly exhibit, even to an artist, a sufficient specimen. It was demolished, as is well known, in the tumult and violence of Knox's reformation.

Not far from the cathedral, on the margin of the water, stands a fragment of the castle, in which the archbishop anciently resided. It was never very large, and was built with more attention to security than pleasure. Cardinal Beatoun is said to have had workmen employed in improving its fortifications at the time when he was murdered by the ruffians of reformation, in the manner of which Knox has given what he himself calls a merry narrative.

The change of religion in Scotland, eager and vehement as it was, raised an epidemical enthusiasm, compounded of sullen scrupulousness and warlike ferocity, which, in a people whom idleness resigned to their own thoughts, and who, conversing only with each other, suffered no dilution of their zeal from the gradual influx of new opinions, was long transmitted in its full strength from the old to the young, but by trade and intercourse with England, is now visibly abating, and giving way too fast to that laxity of practice and indifference of opinion, in which men, not sufficiently instructed to find the middle point, too easily shelter themselves from rigour and constraint.

The city of St. Andrews, when it had lost its archiepiscopal preeminence, gradually decayed: One of its streets is now lost; and in those that remain, there is silence and solitude of inactive indigence and gloomy depopulation.

The university, within a few years, consisted of three colleges, but is now reduced to two; the College of St. Leonard being lately dissolved by the sale of its buildings and the appropriation of its revenues to the professors of the two others. The chapel of the alienated college is yet standing, a fabrick not inelegant of external structure; but I was always, by some civil excuse, hindered from entering it. A decent attempt, as I was since told, has been made to convert it into a kind of green-house, by planting its area with shrubs. This new method of gardening is unsuccessful; the plants do not hitherto prosper. To what use it will next be put I have no pleasure in conjecturing. It is something that its present state is at least not ostentatiously displayed. Where there is yet shame, there may in time be virtue.

The dissolution of St. Leonard's college was doubtless necessary; but of that necessity there is reason to complain. It is surely not without just reproach, that a nation, of which the commerce is hourly extending, and the wealth increasing, denies any participation of its prosperity to its literary societies; and while its merchants or its nobles are raising palaces, suffers its universities to moulder into dust.

Of the two colleges yet standing, one is by the institution of its founder appropriated to Divinity. It is said to be capable of containing fifty students; but more than one must occupy a chamber. The library, which is of late erection, is not very spacious, but elegant and luminous.

The doctor, by whom it was shown, hoped to irritate or subdue my English vanity by telling me, that we had no such repository of books in England.

Saint Andrews seems to be a place eminently adapted to study and education, being situated in a populous, yet a cheap country, and exposing the minds and manners of young men neither to the levity and dissoluteness of a capital city, nor to the gross luxury of a town of commerce, places naturally unpropitious to learning; in one the desire of knowledge easily gives way to the love of pleasure, and in the other, is in danger of yielding to the love of money.

The students however are represented as at this time not exceeding a hundred. Perhaps it may be some obstruction to their increase that there is no episcopal chapel in the place. I saw no reason for imputing their paucity to the present professors; nor can the expense of an academical education be very reasonably objected. A student of the highest class may keep his annual session, or as the English call it, his term, which lasts seven months, for about fifteen pounds, and one of lower rank for less than ten; in which board, lodging, and instruction are all included.

The chief magistrate resident in the university, answering to our vice-chancellor, and to the rector magnificus on the continent, had commonly the title of Lord Rector; but being addressed only as Mr. Rector in an inauguratory speech by the present chancellor, he has fallen from his former dignity of style. Lordship was very liberally annexed by our ancestors to any station or character of dignity: They said, the Lord General, and Lord Ambassador; so we still say, my Lord, to the judge upon the circuit, and yet retain in our Liturgy the Lords of the Council.

In walking among the ruins of religious buildings, we came to two vaults over which had formerly stood the house of the sub-prior. One of the vaults was inhabited by an old woman, who claimed the right of abode there, as the widow of a man whose ancestors had possessed the same gloomy mansion for no less than four generations. The right, however it began, was considered as established by legal prescription, and the old woman lives undisturbed. She thinks however that she has a claim to something more than sufferance; for as her husband's name was Bruce, she is allied to royalty, and told Mr. Boswell that when there were persons of quality in the place, she was distinguished by some notice; that indeed she is now neglected, but she spins a thread, has the company of her cat, and is troublesome to nobody.

Having now seen whatever this ancient city offered to our curiosity, we left it with good wishes, having reason to be highly pleased with the attention that was paid us. But whoever surveys the world must see many things that give him pain. The kindness of the professors did not contribute to abate the uneasy remembrance of an university declining, a college alienated, and a church profaned and hastening to the ground.

St. Andrews indeed has formerly suffered more atrocious ravages and more extensive destruction, but recent evils affect with greater force. We were reconciled to the sight of archiepiscopal ruins. The distance of a calamity from the present time seems to preclude the mind from contact or sympathy. Events long past are barely known; they are not considered. We read with as little emotion the violence of Knox and his followers, as the irruptions of Alaric and the Goths. Had the university been destroyed two centuries ago, we should not have regretted it; but to see it pining in decay and struggling for life, fills the mind with mournful images and ineffectual wishes.

St. Andrews is a small university town on the North-East coast of Fife in Scotland, in the area known as the East Neuk (pronounced nuke). It has a population of around 16,000, with a student population of about 5,000. The town takes its name from the relics of the apostle St.Andrew, which are believed to have been buried in the town at some time around the 6th century A.D., although the exact date or even if the legend is true is unknown.

What is certain is that by 975 A.D. the Bishop of St. Andrews was one of the leading religious figures in Scotland. St. Andrews was for a time effectively the religious centre of Scotland, especially after the construction of a large cathedral in the 12th century. Although its importance as a religious centre has since waned, the ruins of the cathedral are still a major part of St. Andrews town centre, and until recently it was the largest edifice ever built in Scotland. St. Rules tower, the last remaining part of an older church that was incorporated into the cathedral, is worth a visit, as it offers an excellent view of the town and its beautiful natural surroundings. The town also has an interesting ruined castle, where the Bishops would retreat in times of trouble, which were frequent in medieval Scotland.

Although the town has a rich and interesting religious history, it is known throughout the world primarily as the home of golf, as St.Andrews is the location of what is reputedly the worlds oldest Golf course, the Old course. Golf has been played there since the 15th century, but the course itself was originally largely a result of natural geography, and so it is hard to give an estimate of its age. The Links is now home to six separate courses, but the Old course is still seen as world-class course, and regularly hosts major tournaments such as the year 2000 Open Golf championship.

Another, more recent, reason for the town's fame is the attendance of Prince William, heir to the throne of Britain, at the University of St. Andrews. The university itself is the oldest in Scotland, and regularly features as one of the top ten universities in Britain. It has an excellent reputation for Marine Biology, and Art History, the subject Wills is studying, is taught by the father of a good friend of mine.

Overall, the town has a long and varied history, and is worthy of note for a number of reasons beyond the current short-term media infatuation and its tourist-friendly image as the birthplace of Golf.

An excellent source of information on the town can be found at

St.Andrews is my home town, and I heartily agreed with Basemodron's recommendation of the Cellar bar, aka Aikmans, on Bell street. His node seems to have been nuked now, however. Also, St.Rules tower is accessed through a turnstile which takes tokens that can be bought from a desk at the cathedral visitor centre desk. These tokens are the same size as ten pence pieces, so save yourself some money by putting one of these in the box at the bottom of the tower, hitting on the side, and getting up for ten pence instead of the couple of quid it would cost otherwise.

update: Actually, I hear this has changed these days. Never mind.

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