The "Wark"

The plan for the building is of special significance; it is the first completely regular design in Scotland with four equal Old Building Planranges of buildings disposed round a central quadrangle, with four square towers at each corner rising a storey higher. Nor had any other building in the country previously been conceived on such a scale. It is clear that William Wallace had carefully studied Linlithgow Palace - an extremely competent piece of late medieval and Renaissance domestic design. As at Linlithgow, the rooms in the Hospital are through-going in the traditional Scottish Linlithgow Palacemanner, without connecting corridors. Six separate spiral staircases were incorporated, one in each internal angle of the courtyard and one in each of the two external lateral faces. Only two of those in the courtyard remain, both in the south side, the others having been removed in 1886 when the main staircases were built.

   The disposition of the principal rooms on the west and south sides is of particular interest. In earlier large medieval houses the central feature was the festal Hall, where the entire household had their meals together. At the lower end of the hall was the kitchen, and the adjoining lower portion of the Hall provided an entrance door from the service area. The fireplaces were set in gable and side walls, if the Hall was large. Behind the Hall were the solar - or great - chamber, the owners' private apartments, and opening off this chamber was the Chapel.

   At Heriot's Hospital, the Hall, designed as a Refectory for the scholars, has a central door through which the boys came MasonDrawing6into the centre of the room. At either gable end is a fireplace and a service door. If the Council Room is considered as corresponding functionally to the medieval great chamber the sequence of principal or public rooms at Heriot's - kitchen, Great Hall, Chamber and Chapel - follows the traditional lines. The Chapel however is not entered from the Hall and Chamber but directly from the Courtyard, In other words, it is conceived no longer as the private or manorial chapel of aS baron but as the collegiate place of worship of an enclosed community.

   On the death of Cromwell in 1659, General Monk authorised the restoration of the edifice to the Governors. Only then was it finally devoted to the purpose envisaged by the Founder. On 11th April 1659, the first boys, thirty in number, were admitted. and John Nicoll's contemporary "Diary" records that on Monday 1st June that year the Hospital was "dedicat in a very solemn manner" with a sermon by Mr. Robert Douglas.

South RidgeOn the south ridge above the Grassmarket stands the hospital, a great Renaissance Palace standing above the town, detached from yet part of the medieval Capital of Scotland.

   From first to last the building is estimated to have cost £27.000 (sterling) .