St Cecilia's Hall

St Cecilia's Hall
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

St Cecilia's Hall

Situated on the corner of Niddry Street in Edinburgh's Cowgate is St. Cecilia's Hall. It was built in 1763 for the Edinburgh Musical Society to a design by Robert Mylne (1733 - 1811). Grey-harling partially hides an unpretentious classical exterior and inside is a grand foyer, a small oval concert hall on the first floor and the later Laigh Hall.

The concert hall was a popular venue for dances as well as concerts in the 18th Century and now seats an audience of 200. Disused in the early 19th C., the building was bought by the Grand Lodge in 1809, and the block fronting the Cowgate was added three years later. Restored and extended by the University of Edinburgh (1966-8) for their Faculty of Music, it was here that Holywood actress Grace Kelly came out of retirement to read poetry during the Edinburgh Festival in 1976 to celebrate the United States Bicentennial. Now A-listed, the hall underwent a further award-winning refurbishment at a cost of £6.5-million in 2015-17.

St. Cecilia's Hall is now home to the University's Music Museum, an unparalleled collection of more than 400 musical instruments from across the globe, including the Russell Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments. This collection comprises more than 50 instruments dating from the late 16th Century through to the early 19th Century and is one of the most important collections of its type. These collections regularly attracts musicians, instruments makers and academics from around the world and the museum is open to the public.

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