NT2573 : Riddle's Court

taken 5 years ago, near to Edinburgh, Great Britain

Riddle's Court
Riddle's Court
The two Patrick Geddes rooms were open on Doors Open Day 2013. This is the smaller of the two, showing the thickness of the walls and the depth of the window recesses. (I gave up trying to photograph the larger room because people kept walking and standing in front of the camera and I could not get a decent view!)
Riddle's Court
Riddle's Court, entered via a pend, a courtyard, a second pend and a second courtyard at 322 Lawnmarket, is a Category A Listed building, and one of the best examples of a 16th century house in the Old Town of Edinburgh. It was built around 1690 by John MacMorran, a wealthy merchant. A banquet was held here in 1598 in honour of King James VI and his bride, Anne of Denmark.

It was successively the residence of many prominent men: Alexander Seton, Chancellor of Scotland, in 1616; Sir John Smith of Grothill, who while he lived here was Lord Provost of the city between 1643 and 1646; Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, advocate, member of Parliament and baron of the Exchequer from about 1700; Roderick MacKenzie of Prestonhall: Sir Thomas Stewart of Balcashie; Sir Archibald Mure, Lord Provost of Edinburgh; the Duchess of Buccleuch; Lord Royston; and the great philosopher David Hume, one of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, all lived in Riddle's Court.

The building was acquired by Patrick Geddes in 1889, and it was he who commissioned the painted ceiling in the larger of the rooms that now bears his name. He renovated the building for use as a student residence, and his motto 'Vivendo discimus' ('we learn by living') is carved over the doorway. The City acquired it in 1948, and it was used as a community education centre, and a base for the Workers' Education Association. However the narrow spiral stairs and inconvenient levels led to its abandonment in 2005, and it was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register in 2011.

The Council intended to sell the building for development, but the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust persuaded the Council to lease it to the Trust at no cost, with a view to developing it as the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning and Conservation. The Trust has until 2016 to achieve this, and the estimated cost will be 5.5 million. It is well on the way to achieving this, but is still seeking donations and funding to complete the package and allow work to commence in 2014. As well as making fitting use of the building, public access will be preserved.

See LinkExternal link for full details of the restoration prject
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NT2573, 5294 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Saturday, 28 September, 2013   (more nearby)
Monday, 30 September, 2013
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 2555 7350 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.9246N 3:11.6232W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 2555 7351
View Direction
South-southeast (about 157 degrees)
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