City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh World Heritage Offices Move to the Canongate’s Acheson House


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 23 November 2011

Acheson Plan

Across the road from the Canongate Kirk is the Museum of Edinburgh and alongside it an A listed building that goes back to 1633 - waiting for a new purpose. Acheson House was built for Sir Archibald Acheson and his wife Margaret Hamilton. It was close enough to the Court at Holyroodhouse where he was Charles the First’s Secretary of State, but set back enough from the street to give some privacy. His crest of a cock and trumpet is carved above one of the doors.

Acheson House is owned by the City of Edinburgh Council and has been restored. A quarry in Carmyllie in Angus had to be reopened to provide stone slates for the roof. Indeed stone from the same quarry had also been used in famous buildings such Cologne Cathedral, the Bank of Scotland head office on the Mound, and the piers holding up the Forth Railway Bridge. While the work was proceeding the property and its surroundings were being used for the filming of the BBC drama series Garrow’s Law.

Now the Museum of Edinburgh is to expand into Acheson House, whilst the reburbished first floor rooms have become the offices of Edinburgh World Heritage. They will look out on a redesigned garden at the rear.

Edinburgh World Heritage is moving from its home of the past 12 years at 5 Charlotte Square, next door to the Scottish First Minister's residence at Bute House at 6 Charlotte Square and Georgian House at 7 Charlotte Square. All three properties along the famous Georgian terrace are owned by the National Trust for Scotland, which itself was a Charlotte Square resident until it sold administrative offices at the 26 to 31 Charlotte Square two years ago and moved to canal side offices at Hermiston Quay in Edinburgh to save money on overheads.

Edinburgh World Heritage's move takes it from the New Town to the Old Town, but both locations are within the World Heritage Site. Both properties also have have another connection: the 4th Marquess of Bute was a conservation enthusiast who bought both properties in the early 20th century to restore them to their original condition.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We're delighted to welcome our friends at Edinburgh World Heritage to their new abode at Acheson House; it's a very important part of our vision to bring this A-listed 17th century building back to life as part of a Museums Hub devoted to charting the fascinating development of Scotland's Capital city.  This sympathetic conservation, carried out by Clark Contracts and in partnership with EWH, will help guarantee the future of a building that is surely one of the most historically important in Scotland."

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “We are very excited to be establishing our new base in Acheson House, one of the most significant historic buildings in the Old Town. It is inspiring to think that the building was saved by far-sighted conservationists in the 1930s, and it is a privilege to continue their work in ensuring that Edinburgh’s built heritage is preserves for future generations to enjoy.