A gilded statue of a hawk, with a rat in its talons, is attached to the side of a building. It is seen against a deep blue sky background.

Gladstone’s Land teacher information

Gladstone’s Land is a typical example of a 17th-century Edinburgh ‘land’ (or tenement building) of the overcrowded Old Town. These ‘lands’ grew up along the Royal Mile – the ridge running between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood.

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 in 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 as well as the importance of trade to the city.

Possible topics

  • Old Town Edinburgh (P5–7)
    This session will give a broad overview of the Old Town throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, including the impact of the New Town on residents. This will be brought to life as pupils take the role of a servant at Gladstone’s Land, learning about the lives and experiences of the inhabitants, particularly the smells, sights and tastes that they would have encountered on a daily basis. This topic can be linked with a visit to the Georgian House in Charlotte Square; the two can be organised for the same day.
    This session can be adapted for younger primary children on request.
    Curriculum for Excellence: SOC 2-02a, SOC 2-04a, SOC 2-06a
  • Global Edinburgh (P7–S3)
    Gladstone’s Land has been a commercial premises for over 500 years, housing shops, taverns and a huge variety of tradesmen and women. This session will examine the items that they were selling, where they came from and how they got to Edinburgh, which includes a critical examination of the triangular slave trade and Scottish connections to colonialism. Looking at the historical span of the building, pupils will also explore how goods, trade routes and methods of transport have changed over time.
    Curriculum for Excellence: SOC 2-02a, SOC 2-04a, SOC 2-06a, SOC 2-09a

We also welcome foreign language schools and university groups – please contact us at to discuss your requirements and costs.

Resources for schools

  • An education pack including further details of how the visit will work and information to help with the preparation of a risk assessment is available.
  • Resource packs containing background historical information for each session are available on request.

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.
  • School visits last approximately 1.5 hours. Shorter and longer visits can also be arranged.
  • Maximum class size: 30 with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 15 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.
  • 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 education room during the visit.

“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

“You did a great job – thanks again!” Primary 6, Colinton Primary School


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