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Lady Stair's House

Lying between James Court and Lady Stair's Close, off Edinburgh's Royal Mile, is the 16th Century Lady Stair's House. Originally built in 1622 for Sir Walter Gray and his wife, whose initials appear on the door lintel, the house has otherwise been significantly altered. Gaining its name through being home to Lady Stair, widow of John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair (1648 - 1707), and a fashionable beauty, who purchased the house in 1719 and retained it until her death in 1759. In 1893, at the suggestion of the visionary planner and urban conservationist Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932), it was bought and preserved by Archibald Primrose, the 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847 - 1929), who happened to be a descendant of Lady Stair's cruel first husband. In 1907, Primrose gave the house to the citizens of Edinburgh. Today it is home to the Writer's Museum, run by the City of Edinburgh Council and dedicated poet Robert Burns (1759-96) and authors Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 94).

The three storey house was a corner stair tower and ogee roof. Inside, the hall is of mediaeval style, featuring a minstrel's gallery, fine chimney-piece and turnpike stair. The city authorities required various 18th Century additions to be removed at the end of the 19th C.


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