The King’s Chamber was once the hall in which King James VI of Scotland and his wife, Anne of Denmark, hosted a royal dinner party for the Duke of Holstein, Anne’s brother.
The exposed ceiling beams are still painted with the original designs for the 1598 banquet, featuring emblems including the Crown of Scotland and the double-headed eagle—the symbol of the Holy Roman Empire—of which the Duke of Holstein was a prince.
The banquet included wild and tame fowl, boiled ham, Dutch ham, venison, quail, plus two large casks of wine, three barrels of Bordeaux, five gallons of claret, a tun of English beer, and forty-four barrels of ale.
Today, The King’s Chamber can be rented as a short-term holiday flat, letting visitors sleep beneath a ceiling that once witnessed a royal party and 400 years of history. It was recently renovated, and the painted beams have been painstakingly restored after being hidden from view for several centuries. Although one wouldn’t recommend eating or drinking quite this much, this self-contained, private apartment also includes an eat-in kitchen, living room, and bathroom.
The room is just one part of Riddle’s Court. The building, originally a merchant’s house, was constructed in the 1590s. Now one of the Royal Mile’s oldest surviving buildings, it has lived many lives and seen several renovations.
The building was once used for student housing, an idea hatched by Patrick Geddes. The former dining hall stands beneath a stunning Arts and Crafts-inspired heraldic ceiling. When you enter the building, you’ll find the Patrick Geddes Centre near the lobby, which is full of information about the building’s history and its namesake. You’ll want to pop into the ground-floor bathroom, which was built where the 16th-century kitchen once stood—the modern toilet is right next to a gaping fireplace, complete with a little bread oven.
Geddes was a scientist, philanthropist, as well as being known for his early work in combining how city planning can address issues brought on by social ills, like: poverty, crime, and health. The Centre functions today as a modern conduit for those ideals, by offering a variety of events, workshops, and tours. His saying in Latin: “Vivendos Discimus,” (By living we learn), is etched into the doorway above the entrance.
Know Before You Go
The King's Chamber is just a five-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle, and less than 10 minutes walking from Edinburgh Waverley Station. Due to the age of the building, this apartment is not suitable for guests with mobility issues, as the apartment is accessed via a narrow wooden stair of 12 steps. You can book the flat via Airbnb.
The Centre went through a multibillion dollar refurbishment, which includes an elevator to access the various floors. To explore the building, you’ll have to take a tour. These are typically offered on Fridays and can be booked via Eventbrite. One can also check the website for upcoming talks, workshops, and tours presented onsite. https://www.patrickgeddescentre.org.uk/