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Work starts on new palace visitor centre

The Abbey Strand buildings will house a new setting to explore the history of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Collection.

Work has started to turn historic buildings at the Palace of Holyroodhouse into a learning centre in a £10 million project.

The Abbey Strand buildings, which housed battle preparations under James V and luxury lodgings under Mary Queen of Scots, is to become a visitor centre to explore the history of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Collection.

The first part of the works, to remove the harling and dry out the exterior, will be carried out behind a nine metre-high scaffold wrap that tells the story of the close relationship between the Palace, Abbey Strand and the city of Edinburgh.

It is part of a programme of work to enhance the visitor experience at the Palace.

Other projects include the creation of a public garden behind the Abbey Strand buildings, inspired by the lost 17th-century physic garden at the Palace; a new ticketing and welcome space; and renewed displays of works of art from the Royal Collection.

The scaffolding has been covered by images telling the story of the relationship between the Palace and Abbey Strand (David Cheskin/PA)

Through the centuries the buildings have served as a pub, brewery, bakery, housing and a hideout from debt collectors.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Collection Trust said: “For centuries these buildings have been closely associated with the Palace’s dramatic history, and some of Edinburgh’s most colourful characters have passed through their doors – from medieval monks and royal courtiers to debtors hiding from the law.

“The Learning Centre, created under the direction of Burd Haward Architects, will occupy the majority of the ground and first floors of the Abbey Strand buildings.

“Royal Collection Trust will develop the upper floors into holiday apartments, bringing these historic buildings back into full use.”


From Belfast Telegraph