Want to go inside? George Heriot’s School opens to the public on Doors Open Day in September
George Heriot’s School is renowned as an outstanding example of Scots Renaissance architecture. Its main building is a turreted edifice surrounding a large quadrangle, all built out of sandstone, and the intricate stonework above each window is unique, much of it carved by William Wallace, the then King’s master mason.
The school was built in 17th century with funds bequeathed by George Heriot, who served as goldsmith and banker to King James VI and was commonly known as Jinglin’ Geordie. On his death, he left roughly 25,000 Pound Scots to found an institution to care for the “puir, faitherless bairns” of Edinburgh.
His wish was carried out: originally known as George Heriot’s Hospital, his building served as a home and school for orphaned children until 1886, when it changed to become a fee-paying school. However, to this day it still serves its charitable purpose of providing free education to fatherless children. In recent years it has been among Edinburgh’s best performing schools.
A flash of inspiration
Pupils at George Heriot’s School belong to one of four houses: Lauriston, Greyfriars, Raeburn or Castle. If that seems a little familiar, there’s good reason: this school served as inspiration for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling has lived in Edinburgh for years, and wrote the first Harry Potter book while staying warm in The Elephant House cafe. Get a coffee and see where the magic happened.
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