Audio Point – Seven Charlotte Square.

A short sample from Edinburgh Audio Guide – Audio Point Seven.

Charlotte Square.

In the 18th century Edinburgh was in desperate need of renovation and expansion. With over 50 thousand people living within defensive walls, it was a filthy, overcrowded medieval city with a noxious lake by its side.  Edinburgh had to reinvent itself.

The town council decided to take action. An architectural competition was launched to find the best design for the New Town. It was won by James Craig, a 26-year-old architect who had specific interest in urban planning but did not have any formal qualifications.

His design of the New Towns was noted for its simplicity and classic symmetry. Two beautiful, elegant garden squares linked by a wide throughfare with two other streets running parallel the main street. Three north-south cross streets completed the grid design of the New Town.

The main street linking two garden squares was named after the king at the time, George III and Charlotte Square named after the wife of the monarch.

Charlotte Square was designed in 1791 by Robert Adam – the most famous British architect of his day. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in Europe.

The jewel in the crown of this beautiful square is St Georges Parish Church – a neo-classical building with a dome covered with green patina.

The building was designed by Robert Reid and built as church between 1811 and 1814. In early 1960 because of the serious structural damage the congregation moved to another church. Now the building is used as a public records office.

Albert Memorial.

An equestrian statue of Prince Albert – the consort of Queen Victoria is located in the very centre of Charlotte’s Square gardens. The statue was commissioned by Queen Victoria following Albert’s death in 1861. Albert died of typhoid aged just 42, leaving the Queen to mourn him for the rest of her life.

The bronze statue of Prince Albert on a horse in field marshal’s uniform was unveiled by Queen Victoria herself in 1876. Impressed by the likeness of the statue to her husband Victoria knighted the sculptor, John Steell, on the spot.

At four corners of the plinth stone, dwarfed by the size of the statue, are figures representing Nobility, Labour, Science, Army and Navy.

The Georgian House Museum.

Most of the houses in Charlotte square retain some original features such as iron boot scrapers at the front steps for removing mud before you enter. Built into the railing are inverted metal cones which were used for snuffing out torches rather than rubbing them against the stonework. Ironwork lamp posts at the entrance of the houses were originally fuelled by gas.

Restored to its original splendour, the House at No 7 Charlotte Square is open to the public as The Georgian House Museum.

No. 7 Charlotte Square was built in 1796 and was originally owned by William Ramsay, a wealthy merchant. The house is a fine example of the Georgian architectural style, with a symmetrical facade, a central doorway, and large sash windows. The interior of the house also contains many original features such as plasterwork and fireplaces.

Three floors of the house are beautifully decorated with period furniture, paintings, antiques, silverware and glassware.

Luxurious drawing room and elegant dining room offer an excellent insight into how wealthy middle classes lived and entertained in the 18th century.

The kitchen and servants’ rooms below the stairs offer a glimpse into the lives of people who worked long hours to make this lifestyle possible.


No. 6 Charlotte Square – called Bute House – is the official residence of the head of the Scottish government – the First Minister of Scotland.

Soon after its completion Charlotte Square became one of the most sought after addresses and home to some of the Scottish Enlightenment’s brightest thinkers, scientists, and aristocrats.

Designated a UNESCO world heritage site, the New Town is one of the most prestigious addresses in the city. Even the more modest buildings designed for tradesmen or used as stables are among the most sought-after properties in Edinburgh.