By Sheila Masson
On October 4th, Riddle’s Court in Edinburgh’s Old Town welcomed dozens of guests to celebrate the first anniversary of the building’s reopening, following a £6m conservation and interpretation project led by Scottish Historic Buildings Trust.
The evening offered guests the opportunity explore their outstanding rooms, including the Seton Room (formerly used as a Victorian hall of residence and retaining its window nooks for reading) within which custom cocktails were served by the talented guys from Solid Liquids with gin from social enterprise Ginerosity.
Sustained by delicious canapés from Appetite Direct, guests were entertained by a murder mystery trail through the Library, the secret fireplace and other rooms, all in the pursuit of winning a night in the King’s Chamber. Clues were provided by both members of Riddle’s Court staff and Mercat Tours guides. This delightful apartment is located within the building and features original 16th century painted beams, and was once the hall in which King James VI of Scotland hosted a Royal dinner party for the Duke of Holstein in 1598.
Available to rent and as part of our wedding package, this apartment was won by a delighted recipient from TFT Consultants, to the disappointment of many other guests who had their sights set on this fabulous prize! Visitors also enjoyed atmospheric digital projections in the outdoor courtyard created by projection artist Mettje Hunneman, which featured imagery and quotes tied to the history and future of the building. Inside, guests were entertained by jazz musicians Boptimism, and were captured on paper by caricaturist Neil Kempsell, and a special visit by Birds of a Feather actress Pauline Quirke (whose wonderful PQA Venues now occupies Riddle’s Court during August’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival on a yearly basis) created a fantastic buzz.
Riddle’s Court is a unique and historic jewel in Edinburgh; it was one of the city’s first courtyard residencies, it hosted aristocrats over the ages, and featured actress Dame Maggie Smith within one of the first Edinburgh Fringe venues in 1953. Built in the 1590s, it is a picturesque Category A-listed merchant’s house full of authentic period features and genuine charm – exquisite painted and plastered ceilings, working fireplaces and panelled rooms. The anniversary event celebrated the painstaking repairs undertaken by skilled craftsmen, without compromising the integrity of the original building.
A hidden gem in the Old Town, Riddle’s Court’s new contemporary interventions have transformed its atmospheric historic spaces into a state-of-the-art venue with full lift access. The newly-refurbished historic yet flexible rooms are available for weddings, meetings and conferences, arts and festival uses, talks and workshops, visits and tours, craft and food markets, striking photo shoots and for unforgettable parties and private dining.
Riddle’s Court is also the home to the Patrick Geddes Centre at Riddle’s Court, which seeks to build global awareness and expertise around the ideas, actions and impact of Geddes, which continue to resonate today. The centre offers a varied seasonal programme of cultural and learning events, exciting workshops for schools, and quality public tours of Riddle’s Court and Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Sheila Masson, Marketing Manager, Scottish Historic Buildings Trust