The Georgian House is an extremely popular visitor attraction situated at the corner of Charlotte Square in Edinburgh's New Town. It sits proudly beside Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland and epitomizes the Georgian architectural style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The house was originally the family home of John Lamont, chief of the Clan Lamont. But by the 1970s, it had been purchased and renovated by the National Trust for Scotland. Beautifully renovated with a host of period features, it's easy to see why Georgian House is one of the National Trust's most popular attractions, drawing over 40,000 visitors a year!
The Drawing Room at Georgian House — Photo courtesy of National Trust for Scotland
Towards the end of the 18th century, the wealthy residents of Edinburgh increasingly sought to move from the overcrowded tenements and winding alleys of the 17th-century Old Town, and so the New Town was born.
Instead of thin skyscrapers with small windows, the New Town was typified by palatial terraces featuring ashlar stonework and large multi-plane windows. Wide boulevards were set around formal manicured gardens and squares with open public spaces.
At the time, some complained that the regimented formality of the designs were too plain and lacked architectural flair. To answer this criticism, the renowned architect Robert Adam was hired to design the north side of Charlotte Square, including Georgian House, and even the critics agreed that the whole terrace was a master class in Neoclassical elegance.
Visitors are greeted in an impressive hallway behind the large, oak-paneled door. There's no official tour of the house, but numerous volunteers are on hand to answer questions. Most visitors choose to start in the basement and work their way up, but you can take your time and follow your own path.
Georgian House's kitchen — Photo courtesy of National Trust for Scotland
The basement is home to the kitchen, wine cellar and scullery, each filled with period pieces and furniture. There's also a selection of touch-screen resources and a short film to provide visitors with some background to the New Town and the inhabitants of Georgian House. You can also buy some lovely souvenirs in the small gift shop.
On the ground floor is a spectacular dining room with an enormous table, set for a lavish dinner as it would have been in the early 1800s. The walls of the dining room are lined with oil paintings of the more prestigious members of the family. A short passageway leads to the beautifully decorated master bedroom, featuring an ornate bed and en en suite flushing toilet that dates to 1774!
Moving up to the first floor, visitors can explore the fabulous drawing room at the front of the house, which features a revival marble fireplace, a square piano dating to 1802 and an impressive collection of oil paintings. At the back of the house, the parlour is a more intimate, private space that's set for afternoon tea.
The upper floors have not been renovated, but there's a delightful activity room on the second floor where children can try on Georgian costumes, try to guess the purpose of some fascinating antiques and oddities, and even have a go at writing with a feather quill.