Gladstone's Land is a surviving 17th century
high-tenement house situated in the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.
It has been restored and furnished by the National Trust for Scotland, and is
operated as a popular tourist attraction.
The "Land" (sited at 477b Lawnmarket) was originally built in 1550, but was
bought and redeveloped in 1617 by a prosperous Edinburgh merchant and burgess
Thomas Gledstanes. The work was completed in 1620. Its prominent sitting (on the
Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood) and the extent
of its accommodation mark out the affluence of its mercantile owner. The cramped
conditions of the Old Town, and the physical size of the lot, meant that the
house could only be extended in depth or in height. As a result, the house is
six storeys tall.
In 1934, the building was condemned and scheduled for demolition, until it was
rescued by the National Trust for Scotland. The Trust fully restored the first
two floors of the building, uncovering original renaissance painted ceilings in
the process. At ground level, there is an arcade frontage and reconstructed shop
booth, complete with replicas of 17th century wares. This would originally have
provided shelter for the merchant's customers.
Outside the entrance to the building is a hanging sign with the date 1617 and a
gilt-copper hawk with outstretched wings. Although not original, the
significance of this is that the name "Gledstone" is derived from the Scots word
"gled" meaning a hawk.
By the mid-18th century, Edinburgh's Old Town was no longer a fashionable
address. Increased population and cramped conditions encouraged the flight of
the affluent to the developing New Town. Today, visitors to the city can
contrast Gladstone's Land to the Trust's restored example of a New Town
residence, The Georgian House, at No. 7 Charlotte Square.