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You May Have Heard Edinburgh’s Best Kept Secret… But Have You Heard of Me?


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Did you know that each of the nine apartments at Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood is named after a former resident? Each one, celebrated in history, has their own unique story to tell…

On the 28th February 2020, Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood will finally open its doors to the public, offering nine beautifully restored apartments brimming with history. Located at the end of the Royal Mile, the buildings of Canongate surrounding this serviced apartment property contain some of the earliest dwellings still standing in Edinburgh today. From Royals to straw hat makers, many a colourful character has claimed sanctuary within the walls of Abbey Strand, each with their own unique story to tell. In order to pay homage to the building’s historical brilliance, nine former residents have been selected to influence the design of each apartment.

The Five Mile Sanctuary

In the lead up to our Grand Opening we would like to introduce you to these quirky characters and let them show you the Edinburgh of their day – walk the Royal Mile in their shoes, so to speak! Around 6,000 people are recorded as having claimed sanctuary in this area from it’s time of establishment in the seventeenth century. Originally founded at Holyrood Abbey, folk could seek safety from the civil law and imprisonment for debt within the five-mile boundaries set by the King’s Park, Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags, Holyrood Abbey and The Palace of Holyroodhouse. The exact points of safety can be identified today by brass “S” plates one the pavement, the closest one being right outside the entrance to Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood.

Those residing within these boundaries in order to escape imprisonment were required to remain there during the week, and could only emerge on Sundays when, according to the Sabbath, collecting for debt was forbidden. They could travel freely around the city on a Sunday but had to return by the stroke of midnight. Imagine, if you will, the sight of someone absolutely legging it down the Royal Mile, desperately trying to make it within the sanctuary lines by midnight, whilst a crew of officers wait patiently by the boundaries, handcuffs at the ready, for the final chime of the Canongate Clock.

Who are The Famous Nine?

Each week we will reveal here for you one of the nine former residents and their respective apartment. Starting with our member of the French Royal Family, the Comte d’Artois (younger brother of Louis XVI who went on to be crowned Charles X of France) and finishing with the infamous Thomas De Quincey, author of Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

  1. The Comte d’Artois, 2 Bedroom Apartment
  2. Sir James Steuart, One Bedroom Apartment
  3. Domenico Corri, Studio Apartment
  4. Mrs Lumsden, One Bedroom Apartment
  5. Robert Cadell, Studio Apartment
  6. Matthew Stewart, One Bedroom Apartment
  7. Captain John Abraham Slezer, Studio Apartment
  8. Lady Margaret Seton, One Bedroom Apartment
  9. Thomas De Quincey, Studio Apartment

Want to find out more?

For more information on our Former Residents, or how to book, please click here. Otherwise, watch this space for the final opening of Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood on the 28th February 2020!

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