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Edinburgh, South Bridge, University Of Edinburgh, Old College, Rooms Of The Speculative Society

Meeting Place (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, South Bridge, University Of Edinburgh, Old College, Rooms Of The Speculative Society

Classification Meeting Place (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) The Spec; Edinburgh University

Canmore ID 254527

Site Number NT27SE 357.02

NGR NT 2599 7336

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Architecture Notes

This A-listed site was recorded as part of the Listed Buildings Recording Programme for 2002-03.

Forming part of the first floor of the south part of the north-east quadrant of the Robert Adam-designed Old College (University of Edinburgh), the halls of the Speculative Society were fitted out by W H Playfair before 1834. Their fabric is largely unchanged from that period. The plan consists of a barrel-vaulted entrance lobby running north-south which gives access to a flat-ceiled meeting-room and a barrel-vaulted library, both rectangular and laid out east-west. The halls contain various original features, the most singular of which is the black marble chimneypiece in the meeting room, with volute-shaped brackets forming the uprights, for which Playfair prepared specific drawings. The meeting-room contains furniture, including benches, tables, chairs and a lectern, specially designed for the Society by the Edinburgh cabinetmaker William Trotter. Other items of interest include a plaster death-mask of Sir Walter Scott, the flag in which the body of Robert Louis Stevenson was wrapped after his death in Samoa, various portraits of Scottish literary, legal and academic figures, and an eighteenth-century candelabra which is believed to have been retained from an earlier building owned by the Society on the same site. The fixtures and fittings preserve much of the character of an early 19th-century interior, but the current decorative scheme, with white woodwork and hessian wall-coverings, was carried out in the 1960s.

Information from RCAHMS

(NMC) 2004


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