Mobile menu

Work to transform the Abbey Strand buildings gets underway

Release date: Tuesday, 27 February 2018


Work has begun on the restoration of the historic Abbey Strand buildings in the Canongate and the creation of a Learning Centre within them at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. For centuries these buildings have been closely associated with the Palace's dramatic history, and some of Edinburgh's most colourful characters have passed through their doors – from medieval monks and royal courtiers to debtors hiding from the law.

The first part of the works, to remove the harling and dry out the exterior, will be carried out behind a nine metre-high scaffold wrap that tells the story of the close relationship between the Palace, Abbey Strand and the City of Edinburgh.

The Learning Centre, which will provide spaces for school groups, families and adults to explore the history of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Collection, will occupy the majority of the ground and first floors of the Abbey Strand buildings.  Royal Collection Trust will develop the upper floors into holiday apartments, bringing these historic buildings back into full use.

This is just one of a number of projects that will enhance the visitor experience at the Palace.  Other include the creation of a public garden behind the Abbey Strand buildings, inspired by the lost 17th-century physic garden at the Palace; a new ticketing and welcome space; and renewed displays of works of art from the Royal Collection. 

The images on the Abbey Strand scaffold wrap are:

  • Facing up the Royal Mile, on the gable end: Symbols from James V's Royal Arms, which once decorated the Palace's gatehouse and today can be seen on the wall by the Palace gates.  They include a unicorn (adopted by Scottish kings as a symbol of purity and strength), a thistle (the floral badge of Scotland, used in Scottish heraldry for over 500 years) and St Andrew's Cross or Saltire. 

  • On the Abbey Strand façade: A watercolour by James Skene of Abbey Strand and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1820.

  • On the north side, facing Abbeyhill: An early 19th-century watercolour by James Duffield Harding showing the Palace against the dramatic backdrop of Arthur's Seat, with the Abbey Strand buildings and Victorian tenements in the foreground.

Find out more about the fascinating history of the Abbey Strand.