Edinburgh Photo Library
- Governor's House, Calton Hill

Governor's House, Calton Hill

Dramatically situated on side of steep rocky ground of Calton Hill, a rocky outcrop to the east of Princes Street, the Governor's House is the only surviving remnant of Calton jail. At one time this was the largest prison in Scotland and until 1864, public executions were carried out on top of the building, watched by crowds below. The Jail, originally located below the Governor's House, was demolished in the 1930s to make way for St Andrews House - for many years the home of the Scottish Office that governed Scotland.

The Governor's House was built 1815-17 by Archibald Elliot (1761 - 1823), who extended the Bridewell Gaol, which was the work of Robert Adam (1728-92) in 1791. The buildings were all built to match James Craig's Old Observatory on Calton Hill behind. The castellated and turreted form of the former Governor's House combined with its dramatic and spectacular situation has prompted some to suggest that is amongst the finest picturesque buildings in the country. At the time of construction it critics said that the building was too Gothic in its architecture - but Sir Walter Scott replied that the situation of this building, on the edge of a precipice and overlooking other buildings like a citadel was a highly appropriate place for a Gothic building.

Elsewhere on Calton Hill is the National Monument of Scotland (never completed), the old Calton Hill Observatory, Nelsonís Monument, a 108-ft tower in the shape of an upturned telescope, built in 1816 to celebrate Nelsonís victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and a memorial to the Scottish-American soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, complete with a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The obelisk seen in the picture above is Hamilton's Obelisk to Political Martyrs.

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