If you don’t want to take our word for it about how fantastic Edinburgh is, then how about the opinion of Britain’s future king? During a recent visit, Prince Charles – or the Duke of Rothesay as he is known in Scotland – called the city ‘very special’ and wished that he had more time in which to explore.
The prince was in Edinburgh to unveil a plaque celebrating the completion of a major £6 million scheme to restore the city’s historic Riddle’s Court.
He was greeted by a large cheering crowd when he strolled along the Royal Mile before entering the close. He then enjoyed a tour of the building, which dates back to the 16th century and was originally a banqueting venue for King James VI.
During a speech to those involved in the restoration project, Prince Charles called Edinburgh ‘so special’, as a result of its offering of ‘wonderful places’ hidden ‘behind unexpected facades’.
Riddle’s Court is amongst the oldest surviving Edinburgh courtyard houses in Old Town, and is an A-listed building containing significant architectural features, such as a rare painted beam ceiling from the late 16th century, a plaster ceiling from early in the 17th century and a TK Bonnar ceiling created towards the end of the 19th century.
During his visit, Prince Charles met members of the restoration team and viewed unique parts of the house, such as an old oven which has now become a disabled toilet.
Over the years, the building is known to have been used as a merchant’s house, as well as a banqueting venue, apartments for aristocrats, overcrowded tenements and emergency housing after the war, a learning centre in the community and a venue for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
It has also been the home of or been linked with, various creative and influential people, including Sir David Hume, Sir Patrick Geddes and Sir John Clerk of Penicuik.
Now it is being used as a conference and events venue, as well as being a visitor attraction, and it is also the location of the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning.
The Geddes Centre is set to play host to an extensive conservation and international learning programme, based on the ‘By Living We Learn’ saying for which Geddes is famous.
The Riddle’s Court development was undertaken by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT). Una Richards, the trust’s director, called the restoration of the building ‘exciting’ and said that bringing it ‘back to life’ would result in benefits for Edinburgh people, as well as for learners from across the world.
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