Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

(Royal College of Physicians)

Royal College of Physicians, Queen Street
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Royal College of Physicians, Queen Street

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is a body concerned with professional standards and medical education, with its headquarters on Queen Street. The College was granted its Royal Charter in 1681 by King Charles II and at first met in private houses, then in a close off the High Street, before building a Hall on George Street in 1781. However, in 1844, the Physicians left this hall, which had proven onerously expensive to maintain. They occupied a purpose-built Neo-Classical edifice built by architect Thomas Hamilton (1784 - 1858) at Nos. 9-10 Queen Street, where two 18th C. houses had been demolished to create space. This new building had a relatively modest facade, but extended behind. It has subsequently been greatly enlarged, today incorporating No. 8 Queen Street, a fine home built in 1770-71 for Baron Orde by Robert Adam (1728-92) and Nos. 11-13, once private flats.

In 1865, the Great Hall was extended by David Bryce (1803-76) to almost twice its original size, resulting in an impressive space. Bryce was also responsible for the New Library (1876), with its spectacular coffered ceiling. The library retains its original furnishings and still houses part of the College's fine collection of medical literature and historical documents. Both of these rooms were extensively restored in 1994. This Victorian grandeur contrasts strikingly with Adam's elegant Georgian interiors of No. 8. These have been incorporated unchanged to provide the college with meeting rooms, including the original Drawing Room where the Council of the College now meets. These were sensitively restored in 1990.

The complex also includes a conference centre, opened in 1986 by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 -2002), which boasts a 300-seat lecture theatre.

The College has recently established a Physic Garden, hidden behind the street, based on one created in 1671 by College founder Sir Robert Sibbald (1641 - 1722) and another founding fellow, Sir Andrew Balfour (1630 - 1694).

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