House history at The Place Hotel
Did you know?
For over 200 years, The Place has been home to key figures in Edinburgh's society.
The Place occupies three grand town houses built as part of Edinburgh’s New Town between 1800 – 1804. As with all New Town houses, the outside stonework is a clue to how the building worked inside. The basements have rough faced stonework as this was the working part of the house with the kitchens and servant quarters. The first floor's facade features significant rustication, carved in imitation of ancient Roman or Greek buildings, this would have been home to the dining room and perhaps a bedroom. The reception rooms on the first floor were the most important, so here the stonework is smooth, a style known as ‘ashlar.’
Georgian town houses of this size were not just home to wealthy families, of course, as their lifestyle needed an army of servants. The census return for No. 36 in 1841 shows it was the home of Sir Charles Hastings and his three daughters, along with five servants from housemaid Margaret Baird to footman George Watson.
In the 1830s No. 38 was the home of John Lizars, an eminent Edinburgh surgeon. He had learnt his trade as a naval surgeon during the Napoleonic Wars, and had returned to Edinburgh to continue his work and to teach anatomy. His books on the human body became standard texts for students, but unfortunately, little attention was paid to his far-sighted work ‘The Use and Abuse of Tobacco’, which warned of its many dangers.
Lizars wasn't the first military figure to move into one of our buildings, though. As a young man, Major-General Edward Broughton had joined the Bengal army in 1777. After fighting across India, Broughton became a Lieutenant Colonel in 1805, before spending time as Lieutenant Governor of St Helena. Then, in 1813, he finally retired to Britain and moved into No. 36, where he lived until he passed away on Christmas Day, 1828.
From the late 1840s, No. 38 became the Free Church of Scotland’s Education Office, organising its schools and teacher training colleges throughout the country. In 1894 the Pharmaceutical Society of Scotland moved into No. 36, marking the occasion with a new carved stone door piece with their initials.