House History

Over 200 years The Place has been home to the great and good of Edinburgh society and Scottish Institutions.

The Place includes No’s 34 – 38 York Place, three grand town houses built as part of Edinburgh’s New Town between 1800 – 1804. As with all New Town houses, the outside stonework is a clue to how the building worked inside. The basements have rough faced stonework as this was the working part of the house with the kitchens and servant quarters. The first floor has deep v-shaped grooves carved in imitation of ancient Roman or Greek buildings, and here would have been the dining room and perhaps a bedroom. The reception rooms on the first floor were the most important, so here the stonework is smooth, a style known as ‘ashlar’.

Georgian town houses of this size were not just home to wealthy families of course, as their lifestyle needed an army of servant. A good example is the census return for No.36 in 1841, which shows it was the home of Sir Charles Hastings and his three daughters, along with five servants from housemaid Margaret Baird to footman George Watson.

In the 1830s No.38 was the home of John Lizars, an eminent Edinburgh surgeon. He had learnt his trade as naval surgeon during the Napoleonic Wars, and had returned to Edinburgh to continue his profession and to teach anatomy. His books on the human body became standard texts for students, but unfortunately little attention was paid to his far-sighted work ‘The Use and Abuse of Tobacco’, which warned of its many dangers.

After a lifetime of adventures, Major-General Edward Broughton died at No.36 on Christmas Day 1828. As a young man in 1777 he had joined the Bengal army, and fought his way throughout India becoming a Lieutenant Colonel in 1805. He ended his career as Lieutenant Governor of the island of St Helena, and in 1813 finally retired and returned to Britain after 36 years abroad.

From the late 1840s No.38 became the Free Church of Scotland’s Education Office, organising its schools and teacher training colleges throughout the country. In 1894 the Pharmaceutical Society of Scotland moved into No.36, marking the occasion with a new carved stone door piece with their initials.

Courtesy of Edinburgh World Heritage, see their website for more information.