22 May 2011


The Painted Room and the Arcaded Entrance
Although I work for the National Trust for Scotland, until yesterday I had never visited Gladstone’s Land, which is the sister property and polar opposite of my gaff (the Georgian House). Situated in the heartland of Edinburgh’s Old Town at the top of the Royal Mile, this wonderful tenement property was once the home of a prosperous merchant in the 17th century and is furnished to reflect this. Outside, the ground floor arcade is original and is the only surviving element of something that, incredibly, once covered the whole street. Unlike the Georgian House, each room reflects a different era for the merchant, Thomas Gledstane, as he built upwards and outwards to make the most of the property’s tiny footprint. It's quite interesting that the rich and poor used to live alongside each other in houses like this, before the development of the New Town began at the turn of the century.

The highlight of Gladstone's is the Painted Room, which faces onto the street and is home to a beautiful timber ceiling decorated with fruit and flower motifs. We were told this was only discovered when the NTS were restoring the house, as up until then it had been concealed with an artificial ceiling. When I asked why anyone would want to cover up such a work of art, the guide said that it was painted in the style of the Jacobites – the Royal House of Stuarts - who had been in exile since 1689. As bedrooms were often used for entertaining as well as sleeping, it was in the family’s best interests to keep their allegience a secret.

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