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This building is in the Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Burgh. It is a category A building and was listed on 31/05/1994.

Group Items: see notes, Group Cat: A, Map Ref: NT 2548 7299.


David Bryce, 1872-9. Symmetrical 3-storey and attic Scots Baronial hospital with 4 pavilions projecting to N and 2 to S; later alterations and additions. Pale coursed bull-faced Hailes sandstone with ashlar dressings. Tall Franco-Scots-inspired turreted square central entrance tower and lucarned spire with decorative flashings, flanked by tall corniced ashlar chimney stacks; corner bartizans with projecting water-spouts and clock faces to N and S; inscription panels and commemorative date stone (1729-1870) over door (see Notes). Finialled and lucarned fish-scale slated conical roofs to circular corner towers (possibly derived from those at Falkland Palace) of pavilions (now linked by glazed balconies), with crowstepped gables between.

N (LAURISTON PLACE) ELEVATION: advanced asymmetrical centre block; 2-leaf glazed timber door with 2-pane fanlight in angled, moulded surround with carved panel above (see Notes); flanked by narrow hoodmoulded stone-transomed windows, with inscribed panels above (see Notes). Tripartite hoodmoulded stone-mullioned and -transomed window with date panel (see Notes) to 1st floor; tall tripartite round-arched stone-mullioned and -transomed window to 3rd; machicolation below clock face; gabletted buttress to left below turret; corbelling at 1st floor to circular turret with arrow-slit windows to right; lucarned ventilators and decorative cast-iron cresting to roof; weathervane on spire. Stone-mullioned and -transomed 2-light windows to ground, 1st and breaking eaves with pedimented dormerheads in 3 flanking bays; finialled, conical-roofed bartizans to outer corners. Recessed 2-bay linking blocks with large stone-mullioned and -transomed, shoulder-arched windows at ground, 1st, and 2nd floors, tripartite windows above.

S ELEVATION: much obscured by later additions.

E AND W ELEVATIONS OF PAVILIONS: 2-bay gabled blocks with intervening single bays, regularly fenestrated. Crowstepped gables to innermost and outermost elevations; bartizans to innermost block at angle of southern 2 bays.

INTERIOR: framed boards with gilt lettering in entrance hall, corridor and stair (see Notes). Board-room has good original plasterwork and joinery - doors, panelling, shutters etc.

Tall windows to wards, top hopper above, some sash and case below (see Notes). Cast-iron down pipes with some decorative hoppers. Stone skews. Grey slates.


A group comprises Lodge (with gatepiers and railings), Main Block, Medical Pavilions (including Jubilee Pavilion), former Nurses' Home, former Ear, Nose and Throat and Ophthalmic Blocks and Chalmers Hospital. Founded in 1729, the Royal Infirmary was Scotland's first hospital specifically intended for the care of the sick. Initially it was housed in an old building at the head of Robertson's Close, in what is now Infirmary Street (commemorated in a plaque on the wall of James Thin's Bookshop), then in a much larger building, designed by William Adam (foundation stone laid 1738, opened in 1741) and located between what are now Infirmary Street and Drummond Street. The hospital was granted a Royal Charter by George II in 1736. The King's statue (separately listed) can be seen to the right, outside the main entrance. The earliest building on the present site was George Watson's Hospital (1738-41), also designed by William Adam, fragments of which are incorporated into the building by John Lessels (separately listed) situated to the S of the main block. This building and its grounds were sold by the Merchant Company to the Corporation of the Royal Infirmary in 1870. The new Medical School, designed by Rowand Anderson, was also building on the adjacent site at the same time. The foundation stone of the Infirmary (a plaque indicates that this was at the corner of the NE pavilion) was laid by the Prince of Wales in 1870, and it was opened in November 1879. In its planning it shows the influence of the continental pavilion-plan hospitals advocated by Florence Nightingale, and of St Thomas's Hospital, London (designed by Henry Currey, a pupil of Decimus Burton, and built in 1868-71). The Illustrated London News acknowledges Bryce's infirmary (completed, after Bryce's death in 1876, under the supervision of his nephew, John Bryce) as 'the largest hospital in the United Kingdom, and probably the best planned.' Florence Nightingale's principals of hospital planning were adopted, and her detailed approval obtained. Each ward was designed to be self-contained, with waiting room, nurses' room, physicians' room, kitchen, lavatories and bathrooms; lifts were provided for patients' beds and (separately) for stores. Administration, teaching rooms, theatres etc were in the main block. Window arrangements for wards, with top hoppers over sash and case windows (to permit ventilation even in bad weather), remained popular for hospitals well into the 20th century. The ventilation system was also regarded innovative. The Infirmary cost ?340,000, and was intended to serve 550-600 patients. The furnishing of each ward cost ?400-?480, and the funding was raised by voluntary effort. Boards in the hall, corridors and staircase of the main block commemorate the donors both to this hospital and to the previous one (the Infirmary was dependent on charitable donations until 1948). Important portraits hang in the Board Room. The inscriptions over the door of the main block (PATET OMNIBUS, with a pelican, above the door, I WAS A STRANGER AND YE TOOK ME IN to the left, and I WAS SICK AND YE VISITED ME to the right) were copied in 1885 from those at William Adam's Infirmary.


Original Royal Infirmary (William Adam) Vitruvius Scoticus Plate 150. Drawings in Infirmary architect's and archivist's offices. Minutes of Royal Infirmary vols 23&24, 1871-76. RSA 1871. ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS 11th November, 1879. AL Turner THE ROYAL INFIRMARY OF EDINBURGH 1729-1929 (1929). AL Turner STORY OF A GREAT HOSPITAL (1937). Fiddes and Rowan MR DAVID BRYCE (1976) pp 97-98. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) pp 259-60. Richardson, Harriet ENGLISH HOSPITALS 1660-1948 (1998) pp30-31.

© Crown copyright, Historic Scotland. All rights reserved. Mapping information derived from Ordnance Survey digital mapping products under Licence No. 100017509 2012 . Data extracted from Scottish Ministers' Statutory List on . Listing applies equally to the whole building or structure at the address set out in bold at the top of the list entry. This includes both the exterior and the interior, whether or not they are mentioned in the 'Information Supplementary to the Statutory List'. Listed building consent is required for all internal and external works affecting the character of the building. The local planning authority is responsible for determining where listed building consent will be required and can also advise on issues of extent or "curtilage" of the listing, which may cover items remote from the main subject of the listing such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. or interior fixtures. All category C(S) listings were revised to category C on 3rd September 2012. This was a non-statutory change. All enquiries relating to proposed works to a listed building or its setting should be addressed to the local planning authority in the first instance. All other enquiries should be addressed to: Listing & Designed Landscapes Team, Historic Scotland, Room G.51, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EDINBURGH, EH9 1SH. Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8701 / 8705. Fax: +44 (0)131 668 8765. e-mail: hs.listing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/historicandlistedbuildings.

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Buildings are assigned to one of three categories according to their relative importance. All listed buildings receive equal legal protection, and protection applies equally to the interior and exterior of all listed buildings regardless of category.

ACategory A

Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (Approximately 8% of the total).

BCategory B

Buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered. (Approximately 51% of the total).

C(S)Category C(S)

Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B. (Approximately 41% of the total).