Posts from the Past: Edinburgh Royal Asylum, Craighouse

In Episode 202, writer Eddie Louise visits an old haunt. She attended university at Napier in the old buildings at Craighouse campus. While she was getting her degree in music composition, she became enamored with the glorious building that is a historic house located on Easter Craiglockhart Hill, Edinburgh.

The original “Craig House” dates back to the 16th century. In the late 19th century it was purchased by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and developed as Craig House Hospital, a psychiatric hospital.

Craighouse, photographed in 2015 © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

In the 1880s, Dr Thomas Clouston, Physician Superintendent of the Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum (later the Royal Edinburgh Hospital), oversaw the purchase of Craig House by the managers of the Asylum in 1878. The site was intended for paying patients, and development was funded through the sale of land at the existing Asylum in Morningside. The new buildings at Craig House were planned by Clouston, and designed under the control of architect Sydney Mitchell in 1887 (whose father Dr Arthur Mitchell was on the board of directors at the asylum). The actual job architect responsible for the design was Charles Henry Greig rather than Mitchell himself, despite Mitchell being widely credited for the design. Work began in 1889 on the large main building, a hospital block, and three detached villas, all of which were complete by 1894. The main building, New Craig House, was intentionally grand, resembling a country house or hotel rather than an institution, and is reminiscent of the Viceregal lodge in Shimla. It is designed in a picturesque “free Renaissance” style, with elements taken from French Renaissance architecture. The interiors include a great hall and a billiard room.- from Wikipedia

Great Hall, Craig House
Great Hall, Craig House photographed by RCAHMS
Great Hall, Craig House, photographed in 1895
Great Hall, Craig House, photographed in 1895 by Bedford Lemere, from RCAHMS

In 1996 the buildings were reopened as the Craighouse Campus of Edinburgh Napier University. On the left is an image of the newly renovated Great Hall and the right how it looked around the time when Dr Sage visited the hospital.


Dining Hall
Dining-Room in South Craig Villa, photographed in 1895 by Bedford Lemere from RCAHMS

This is the dining room, perhaps the one Dr Sage and Sabanrab (Barnabas) ate at for lunch.


Sitting Room
A sitting-room in South Craig Villa (from RCAHMS)

This is a sitting room complete with a piano.

For more images an information about this grand estate, visit

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