Riddles Court

Riddles Court

Riddles Court, Edinburgh

The history of Riddles Court

Riddles Court, located at the top of the Royal Mile, is a place of architectural and cultural significance. Dating back to the 16th century, the charming courtyard and well-preserved buildings provide a glimpse into Edinburgh’s storied past.

Cultural significance

Riddles Court was designed to be a high-status, multi-occupancy building, providing privacy alongside the convenience of a central location.

Why is it important to Edinburgh?

The building is closely linked to Patrick Geddes, philanthropist, educator and town planner. His principle of ‘conservative surgery’ aimed to preserve the most historically significant parts of Old Town buildings by demolishing the more dilapidated parts, making what remained more hygienic and suitable for 1890s living. He converted the main part of the building into one of Edinburgh’s first student halls of residence.

Key events

Riddles Court has a distinguished history, including playing host to King James VI and his wife Anne of Denmark at a royal banquet in 1598 and becoming the residence of David Hume, philosopher and historian, in 1751.

Additional information

In 1590 Bailie John McMorran petitioned the council to demolish a ruined building on the site and built a new mansion for himself. In 1726 George Riddell, a wealthy tradesman, reconstructed parts of the building facing the Lawnmarket, and the property became known as Riddells Court.
Riddles Court’s was restored by SHBT (Scottish Historic Building Trust), repairing and restoring the historic structure and precious elements of the interior. This includes plaster and painted ceilings, and panelling. The building’s links with education from the days of Geddes, continued through use as a base for the Workers’ Educational Association, to its current uses by SHBT which include the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning.
Riddles Court is located in the Lawnmarket, in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.

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