Granton House



Granton House, a  24-room three-storey mansion with a balustraded roof, was built by the Earl of Hopetoun in 1807 on the Duke of Buccleuch's land beside the Firth of Forth.  The house was situated immediately to the west of Gypsy Brae at Granton.

Map of Granton  -  1925  -  with key including Gypasy Brae


Sir Walter Scott visited the house on several occasions around the early 1820s.

Sources:  Stranger on the Shore (James Gracie)  p.38

1850s to 1880s

In 1863, the house passed to Sir John McNeill G C B, of the Colonsay family, third son of McNeill of  Colonsay.

In 1883, on the death of Sir John McNeill, the house passed to Lord Gifford who founded the Gifford Lectures on Natural theology at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen.

It has been reported that one of those who stayed at the house was Florence Nightingale  -  but when did she visit the house?

James Gracie says that the visit was while John McNeill was staying at the house (1863-1883) and that she had come to Edinburgh to advise on the layout of the New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.  However the building of the new hospital in Lauriston Place did not commence until 1872.

A report in The Scotsman on January 2, 1954 refers to a visit to the house by Florence Nightingale in 1857, after which she wrote:

 "I think Granton House is the most poetic place I ever saw."

Sources:  Old & New Edinburgh (Grant), vol.3, p.311
                 Stranger on the Shore (James Gracie)  p.38
                 Edinburgh Evening News, January 2, 1954


From 1946 onwards, Granton House was used by Edinburgh Corporation to house homeless families.

About a dozen families may have previously been seeking shelter in one of the deserted army huts to the south of the house.   I don't know whether or not this was the case.

Source:  Edinburgh Evening News, January 7, 1946. "The Kindly Ghost of Granton House'
 (This article was described as 'a fanciful sketch' and appears to be a mix of fact and fiction.)

This article, in the Evening News on 7 January 1946, also referred to homeless families being moved in to the vacant Granton House on Christmas Day 1945.


Granton House was destroyed in a fire which broke out on the ground floor at about 3.30am on  January 1, 1954. 

Everybody was rescued from the house, though almost all their belongings were lost and three children who were overcome by smoke had to be taken to the Western General Hospital.  The last three children to be rescued were lowered from a second-storey window in blankets.

Thirty people from the twelve families living in the house were rescued.  Other inhabitants of the house were away "first footing" at the time of the fire.

The fire almost completely destroyed the building including the roof, that had been retiled only two weeks previously.

Sources:  The Scotsman,  January 2, 1954
                 Edinburgh Evening News:  January 3, 1954

Thank you to Thelma Ramsdell, Nebraska USA who was in Granton House at the time of the fire for sending me her reminiscences of the fire.

Reminiscences of fire at Granton House


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