Edinburgh’s mundane hangar with an incredible hidden story
When you think of the unification of Scotland and England, you can imagine large halls and official ceremonies. However, the actual signing of the Act of Union with England actually took place in a relatively mundane location in Edinburgh.
You’d be forgiven for almost missing the Moray House Garden Pavilion, tucked away on Holyrood Road, but don’t be fooled by appearances.
It is the site where Scotland and England came together after decades of debate and fighting.
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Scotland was already part of Great Britain, joining England, Ireland and Wales, when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603. However, it still required a century for the official treaty to be signed, January 16, 1707..
The treaty was drawn up by the Earl of Seafield, Lord Chancellor of Scotland. He was living at the time in Moray House, then in a mansion on the corner of Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle.
The Earl and other Scottish aristocrats made up the majority of supporters of unification, but it was much less popular with the people.
Apparently as few as one in 100 in Scotland was in favor of unification, but the minority was loud and powerful enough to put plans into action anyway.
The original idea was for those present to sign the treaty in the impressive 17th-century mansion, but rowdy opposition in the streets forced them to look for a less visible location.
At the end of his garden stood a modest shed, hidden from view on a stone pavilion. This is where the most influential people from Scotland and England came together to sign the Act of Union between England and Scotland.
The treaty consisted of 25 articles, 15 of which related to the economy. Each was voted independently in Parliament and each obtained a majority of the Scottish MPs’ votes.
The outbuilding that stands today has been rebuilt and moved slightly since the Earl and his companions were there, but it still looks the same as before.
There is also an original decorative stone archway here today, which you can spot from the street if you go down to visit on your own.
Plus, an ornate balcony overlooks the street, another relic from centuries past that has been around as long as the treaty itself.
You can find it yourself at 100 Holyrood Road, where it is part of the University of Edinburgh and is regularly used for teaching.
Today, the past of the house is best experienced by history buffs during open days. The Cromwell Room is a particular highlight, named after Oliver Cromwell, once a famous guest of the house.
A short walk from Holyrood Park and Palace, this is a quick stop if you are taking a tour of important moments from Edinburgh’s past.
Although you cannot enter the house during the week, as classes will likely be in progress, you can observe the remains of a bygone area from the street, as well as try to peek through the street. ‘arch and see the hangar itself.