Bishop's Palace

(Eden Court)

Known originally as Eden Court, this large Gothic mansion built as a gift for Robert Eden (1804-86), Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, by his grateful parishioners to thank him for his hard work on their behalf and for building St. Andrew's Cathedral in Inverness. The Bishop's Palace is located on Bishops Road on the west bank of the River Ness, a half-mile (0.8 km) south southwest of the town centre. The 12-bedroom mansion was constructed 1875-78 by Alexander Ross (1834 - 1925) at a cost of around £6000. It included an elegant pitch-pine gallery and staircase, and four reception rooms; a dining room, drawing room, library and morning room. The bow-ended private chapel was paid for by the Bishop himself and the house included 'the most modern and extensive plumbing for its time'.

Eden lived here for 8 years with his large family and the property was subsequently home to three further Bishops. By the 1940s, the house was considered too large, had no electricity and could be exceptionally cold in winter. The upper floors were used by the Women's Voluntary Service and the Blood Transfusion Unit during World War II but, in 1947, the last Bishop, Holt Wilson, left and the property was sold to the Northern Hospitals Management Board to become a nurses' home and training centre.

In 1966, the nurses moved to a new facility at Raigmore Hospital and the house and its garden were sold to Inverness Town Council for £29,000 as the site for a new civic development. The building was unsympathetically converted to serve as dressing rooms and offices for the adjacent Eden Court Theatre in the 1970s, and renamed the Bishop's Palace. The chapel became the green-room, the butler's pantry the wardrobe area and, in the 1980s, the drawing and morning rooms were linked to become a small cinema.

The Bishop's Palace was B-listed in recognition of its historical importance in 1981. From 2003, the building featured in a major development plan for the theatre and, by 2007, it had been carefully restored and opened to the public, with a permanent exhibition recording the history of the building. Some of the display panels ensure a safe height is maintained around an otherwise rather low pitched pine parapet around the stair, while others emerge from within the drawers of modern oak furniture in the hallway.

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