Edinburgh’s Doors Open Days are here – scores of buildings are ready to welcome visitor this weekend, September 23-24, 2023.
And there’s a huge variety of venues throwing open their doors to let people see parts of the premises not normally on show to the public. Among the buildings in this selection from the programme are the Lost Close in the heart of the Old Town, a funeral home in a Victorian villa, churches with interesting features and several university buildings with stories to tell about the past and the future.
We have already featured other buildings which are taking part in three other photo galleries. For some of the venues, visitors must book in advance. Some are open both Saturday and Sunday, others just on one of the days. All Doors Open Days events and activities are free. Take a look at our latest selection and decide where you will go on your venture of discovery.
1. Starbank Park
Starbank Park in Trinity is a stunning walled garden, a ‘Victorian Park’ which has been restored to its former glory by the active Friends of Starbank Park group, with some pollinator-friendly planting along the way. Central to the park's design and history is Stabank House, once the home of the Victorian Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone’s aunt and uncle. The house was bought in 1891 by Leith Town Council and was a museum from 1920 to 1931, but is now a private house again. The Friends - who celebrate their 10th anniversary this year - use the side building where the history of the park is on display. It won ‘Best Neighbourhood Park UK’ in 2018 and in 2021 Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales, visited the park with Fields in Trust and planted an apple tree. Doors Open weekend will see a harvest display and guided tours, children’s crafts, chalk drawing and a planting demonstration as well as a history display and talk. Open: Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24, 10am - 4pm Photo: Scottish Civic Trust
2. St Columba's by the Castle Church, Johnston Terrace
Described as a hidden gem, St Columba's by the Castle Episcopal Church in Johnston Terrace, close to the top of the Royal Mile, features a mural of ""Christ in Glory"" by wildlife artist John Busby RSA. And it is now also home to a stunning, permanent exhibition ""Immrama"" about the life Columba. Immrama were ancient voyage tales; allegories of our journey through life. The exhibition uses stories, contemporary art works and reflective questions to explore themes of enduring relevance. The church also offers a beautiful terrace garden, part of the Quiet Garden movement as a place of refreshment.
Open: Saturday, September 23, 10:30am - 3:30pm, and Sunday, September 24, 12:30pm - 3:30pm. Also the garden will be open to visit. Photo: Scottish Civic Trust
Independent arts venue Summerhall, in the former Royal (Dick) Veterinary College close to the Meadows and Hope Park Terrace, is now a vibrant cultural centre. For Doors Open weekend there will be walking tours to show off the weird and wonderful spaces that make up the building. From the dissection room to the anatomy lecture theatre, the tours will illuminate the history of the building as well as give attendees an insight into their current use as performance venues. The tours will include visits to the venue's unconventional art gallery spaces.
Open: Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24, with tours at noon,, 2pm and 4pm each day. Photo: Scottish Civic Trust
Riddle’s Court is a picturesque Category A-listed merchant’s tenement on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Each room reveals a different chapter of its 500-year history, from a painted ceiling installed for a royal banquet to one created for students to dine under. It is a building as beautiful as it is intriguing and one whose story is intimately connected with that of Edinburgh's Old Town.
From 2015 to 2017, the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) undertook a major conservation and regeneration project at Riddle’s Court, which saw over £6 million invested into the building to bring it back to life and secure its future. Riddle’s Court has now reopened as a unique venue for exceptional events. Visitors will be able to explore the rooms.
Open: Sunday, September 24, 11am - 4pm. Photo: Scottish Civic Trust