The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh celebrated its Quincentenary year in 2005. In continuous existence as a corporate body since 1505, it may claim to be one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world.

By the beginning of the 19th Century, the Old Surgeons’ Hall had become inadequate for the College and there was an urgent need to provide suitable accommodation for the large collection of anatomical and surgical specimens which had been presented to the College by Dr John Barclay. A site for this was acquired by the purchase of the Riding School in Nicolson Street. William Henry Playfair, 1790-1857, the foremost Scottish architect of that era, was commissioned to design a building containing a meeting hall, Museum, Lecture Room and Library as its principal apartments. The original plans are preserved in the College archives and the handsome furniture, designed by him for the College building, is still in use to this day.

The Playfair Building opened in 18321.

  • Photos 1-2 by Marta Bertolaso (July 2009), photos 3-4 by Adrian Thomas (March 2019)

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