Gladstone's Land

Gladstone's Land is a surviving 17th century high-tenement house situated in the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. It has been restored and furnished by the National Trust for Scotland, and is operated as a popular tourist attraction.

The "Land" (sited at 477b Lawnmarket) was originally built in 1550, but was bought and redeveloped in 1617 by a prosperous Edinburgh merchant and burgess Thomas Gledstanes. The work was completed in 1620. Its prominent siting (on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood) and the extent of its accommodation mark out the affluence of its mercantile owner. However, not only did Gledstanes reside there, he let out parts of the building to an assortment of tenants of different social classes (another merchant, a minister, a knight, and a guild officer). Thus the restored building allows an insight into varieties of Edinburgh life of the period. The cramped conditions of the Old Town, and the physical size of the lot, meant that the house could only be extended in depth or in height. As a result, the house is six storeys tall.

In 1934, the building was condemned and scheduled for demolition, until it was rescued by the National Trust for Scotland. The Trust fully restored the first two floors of the building, uncovering original renaissance painted ceilings in the process. Today the restored premises offer a glimpse of 17th century life, with open fires, lack of running water, and period decoration and furniture. At ground level, there is an arcade frontage and reconstructed shop booth, complete with replicas of 17th century wares. This would originally have provided shelter for the merchant's customers.

Outside the entrance to the building is a hanging sign with the date 1617 and a gilt-copper hawk with outstretched wings. Although not original, the significance of this is that the name "Gledstone" is derived from the Scots word "gled" meaning a hawk.

By the mid-18th century, Edinburgh's Old Town was no longer a fashionable address. Increased population and cramped conditions encouraged the flight of the affluent to the developing New Town. Today, visitors to the city can contrast Gladstone's Land to the Trust's restored example of a New Town residence, The Georgian House, at No. 7 Charlotte Square.

Gladstone's Gallery

The second floor of Gladstone's Land now hosts the National Trust's Gladstone Gallery, which is accessed via a turnpike staircase at the front of the building. The space is rented out to artists through the year, and serves as a venue for events during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.