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23 Jul 2021

Why we love Gladstone’s Land


Kate Stephenson –
Gladstone’s Land is located in the bustling heart of Edinburgh.
It is in the centre of the Old Town. It has always been this wonderful social and commercial hub and it remains so today.
We’ve had this huge renovation: we have changed the first floor over to an ice cream parlour and coffee house, and we have completely renovated the visitor experience as well, so we’ve opened up more of it than we ever had before and we’ve told much more of the story than we ever have before.
So we’ve always focused on the 17th century and now we’re telling this 350-year history of the property. And we’ve also, of course, renovated all of our holiday flats as well, to bring them right up to date and again to infuse them with the history of the property right the way through all of them.

The thing I love most about the new visitor experience is the third floor, which we’ve opened up for the first time. It’s very new so people are getting to see one of the painted ceilings that they’ve never seen but also we’re talking about the 20th-century decline of the property, so we’ve put in a boarding house up there, a space occupied by several men who wouldn’t have known each other, and it shows that the property hasn’t always been this opulent, fashionable place; that actually in the 19th and 20th century it was a lot more run down and that’s actually why, come the 1930s, it was scheduled for demolition.

We are now allowing people to touch things, to interact with the spaces around them, which is really new for the Trust, and also to bring out some new topics that the Trust has never really experimented with before. So we’re offering a number of specialist tours and the one that I’ve really worked on looks at the history of sex in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and so it’s been really exciting to bring a new and perhaps slightly controversial topic into the Trust’s remit and something that we talk about, because anything to do with those facets of social history are fascinating and have an audience, and we should be talking about more of those bits of history that are maybe a
little bit taboo.

AW –
I’m Anna and I’m a volunteer at Gladstone’s Land.
I really love Gladstone’s Land because I think it’s a really immersive experience.
I think so many different historical sites have a lot of ropes and plaques and barriers, and it’s really engaging here. It’s really unique to this place that you can come in and touch the objects, look around and there’s not the same barriers and ropes and stuff that you would get at another historical site or museum.
It doesn’t feel like a museum; you can step back in history for a day and explore and I think that’s really cool.

DH –
My name’s David. I’m a volunteer here at Gladstone’s Land. Here, you meet people from literally all over the world and it’s enjoyable talking to them and getting to know them, even just for a very brief period of time.
There’s so much to Gladstone’s Land. What I like particularly about the recent developments that have been done is that the building is now available to people at different stages in its history. Prior to these changes, it was very much fixed at the beginning of the 17th century, but now we can see it at a particular point in time, then into the 18th century and into the beginning of the 20th century as well.

KS –
We are right here in Gladstone’s Land in the bustling heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and not just do you get a wonderful visitor experience telling 3/400 years of history of the property, you can have top quality ice cream
and you can even stay here in the property in one of our four top class holiday apartments.

ST –
The things that I love most about this place is that this is an ancient building from the 17th century, you can see actually the old building around you.
You see these walls are actually original from the 17th century, and we are keeping going the old tradition. So in the past they used to make coffee and ice cream as well, like we are doing today. It’s like a building that explains to you a little bit more; it’s not just a coffee, it’s a complete experience.

So, what’s the most spectacular ice cream that we’ve got here? It’s called The Butcher, so basically you’re
going to try an amazing cone with double vanilla ice cream and bacon and whisky sauce - it’s amazing! I know it’s strange but it’s caramelised bacon - it’s something unique that I never tried in my life before, but when I got it I just fell in love! So try The Butcher, it’s amazing.

KS –
What I love about this place is the sheer history that the building embodies.
It’s not just the history of the people that lived here over 500 years and their changing fortunes, it’s the changing fortunes and the social and commercial history of Edinburgh’s Old Town as a whole.

From delicious ice cream and coffee to 350 years of history, there’s plenty to discover in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town at Gladstone’s Land. Here our property team tell us what people love most about this place.

Gladstone’s Land is open daily.

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