Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on Register House which probably ranks as the finest classical building in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The first stage of this building was completed in 1789 to a design by leading Scottish architect Robert Adam  (1728-1792 ) and his brother James (1732-1794). The entire project was not completed until 1834 (by architect Robert Reid) with delay attributable to the restrictions on public expenditure due to the Napoleonic Wars ( 1803-15). Ironically, in front of the building stands an equestrian statue in memory of the Duke of Wellington on his horse Copenhagen. Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

Register House was the first purpose-built public records repository in the British Isles and remains in use today.

Cost of the building was exacerbated by the need to incorporate design features to mitigate damp and fire risks, the traditional enemies of paper archives. Interestingly, the Adam Brothers incorporated Roman era under floor heating to prevent damp.

Here are the key architectural features:

  • Two stories with concealed basement, the ground floor rusticated.
  • Central projecting Corinthian portico capped by the dome behind.
  • Pavilions at each end, pilastered, balustraded, and topped by cupolas.
  • Splendid domed hall within, 50 feet in diameter and inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

The building stands at the eastern end of Princes Street and close to Waverley Railway Station. Difficult to miss when in central Edinburgh.

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