Gladstone’s Land teacher information

Gladstone’s Land is a traditional 16th-century tenement building. It has been a commercial and social hub for more than 500 years and has witnessed momentous social and political change as well as war, fire and disease.

The building takes its name from Thomas Gladstone who purchased it in 1617 and built the front extension, adding three intricate and fashionable painted wooden ceilings in the new rooms he created. These still survive today. It was occupied by upper- and middle-class tenants until the end of the 18th century, when the wealthy moved to the recently built New Town, marking the start of a period of severe decline for the property and the Old Town as a whole.

A visit to Gladstone’s Land provides a unique opportunity to experience how people lived in Edinburgh’s Old Town between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Possible topics

  • Social history/private lives
  • The Georgians
  • Merchants/burghs/Scotland in the 1600s
  • Hygiene and health
  • Early 20th century
  • Trade and commerce
  • Urban history
  • Fashion

For Tertiary visits, we offer our specialised tours:

  • Intimate lives
  • Crime and punishment
  • Tables through Time: Food in Gladstone’s Land
  • A History of Tea tour
  • Medical tales
  • Conservation in Action

We also welcome foreign language schools and university groups. Please email us at to discuss your requirements and costs.

Resources for schools

  • Pre-visit packs containing historical background information for each session are available upon request.
  • Activities pack – we offer a range of activities for our tours and teacher-led visits, including quizzes, trails and games.
  • Post-visit packs are available, including some activities for your class.

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please email or call 0131 226 5856.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Gladstone’s Land is open for educational visits all year round.
  • Tour length can be altered to meet group needs and activities booked.
  • Maximum class size: 30 with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 10 pupils
  • Access: Due to the nature of Gladstone’s Land, the house is not fully accessible. However, please inform staff about any pupils with access or additional support needs when booking, and alternative arrangements can be made. You can also check the Gladstone’s Land accessibility page for further information.
  • Toilets are available.
  • There is an ice cream parlour and coffee shop on the ground floor of the building.
  • Snacks/lunches may be eaten in the property by prior arrangement. We also have a range of snacks and cartons of juice that can be purchased in the café.
  • Whilst the site has been risk assessed, teachers are expected to prepare their own risk assessment for the visit. We have produced a set of safety guidance notes to assist with this process.


  • For the latest charges, please contact the property.
  • Class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the site.

During your class visit

  • Gladstone’s Land is easily accessible by public transport. If arriving by coach, we recommend dropping pupils off in front of the property and then parking the bus on nearby Johnstone Terrace.
  • On arrival: please report to the café counter on the ground floor.
  • National Trust for Scotland staff will lead the school programme.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils do not need to bring materials for the school programme.
  • Bags and coats may be left in the Exhibition Room during the visit.
  • Gladstone’s Land is an interactive experience. While some items like the paintings and out-of-reach items are not to be touched, students are encouraged to try on clothes, sit on chairs and rummage through drawers. Your guide will be able to advise which objects are more fragile. The teaching staff are responsible for monitoring the students while going through the property.

“We loved the whole house.” Primary 3, Fettes Prep School

“We really enjoyed our visit and will most definitely visit again.” Primary 6, St Margaret’s School


Download a copy of our safety guidance notes to help with preparing your risk assessment.