General Register House, located on Princes Street in Edinburgh is one of the oldest archive buildings still in existence in the world today.

In 1752 an idea was formed to construct a house used entirely to store public records. This was seen as quite an extravagant project, however, it was also deemed necessary because Parliament House was unable to store the significant records that the people of Edinburgh were creating at the time.

Work first started in 1774, with the building being designed by much coveted architect Robert Adam, however, the funds dried up by 1779 and work was then halted. In time the site became known as the most expensive pigeon house throughout Europe as it lay unfinished for a number of years.

It wasn’t until 1785, when another architect was agreed upon, that the site was worked on again. Throughout the next 70 years there were a number of changes to the building, to accommodate the Duke of Wellington, and then New Register House was built next door to the original building in 1858. This building was made to house additional archive storage, in particular those relating to births, marriages and deaths. Before 1855 registration was not compulsory and the uptake of registration was not particularly high. Once it became compulsory vast archives were needed and this building was finally completed in 1863.

This building was constructed to be solid and as such it was made of stone, with brick vaults contained within. Flagstones were used for the vast majority of the floors with importance being given to making the building resistant to both damp and fire. The records were protected from damp via a series of flues that ran underneath the floors and contained hot air fuelled by furnaces. This allowed the floors to stay warm and meant that the basement, where records were held, was kept free of damp.

General Register House is home to a beautiful room, the Rotunda. This is a vast roof, with a dome in the roof, which stands proud above the top of the building. This Rotunda was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and allows light to flood in via a central circular window. The Rotunda has decorative plasterwork and stunning alcoves, one of which holds a status of King George III, at just 22, flanked by the robes from his Coronation.

General Register House is now home to the Scotland’s People Family History Centre, which opened in 2008, and this is always a draw for visitors to Edinburgh. As well as the new centre there is a stunning garden, located between the courtyard which is sandwiched between General Register House and New Register House. There are many unique species planted in the grounds here that have links to the heritage of Scotland.

More than 400,000 mandatory registrations of births, deaths and marriages have now been stored since the compulsory introduction in 1855. There are more than 4 miles of shelving located just in the dome of the New Register House and the top tier contains the original marriage documents, signed directly after marriage ceremonies in Scotland, as well as open census records spanning 50 years.

Did you know that James Allan Stonemasons (Edinburgh) are one of the leading Edinburgh stonemasons around? If you need some stone work restoring, get in touch with us today. We also provide lime pointing, Edinburgh Church stone repairs, chimney repairs and wall repairs.

Why Choose Us:

  • We have over 30 years hands-on experience as stonemasons
  • We have a full range of expert stonemasonry and sandstone restoration skills
  • We only use lime mortar for re-pointing, sandstone repairs and building work
  • We choose our team based on the quality of their work and quality of their character
  • Flexible Quoting: we come at a time that suits you, even on the same day if required

Stone Repairs

Do your stones’ need repairing due to weathering and old age? If so, we can bring them back to new again. As James Allan Stonemasons (Edinburgh), we can offer you two effective methods for repairing your stones, which are part Indenting and lithomex.

Lime Pointing

Properly executed Lime Repointing of masonry using lime mortars is critical to the long term health of stone structures. It is strongly advised that repointing is carried out using proper lime mortars & correct technique and preparation.

Church Stone Repairs

Repairs to churches call on every type of stonemasonry skill imaginable, including stone replacement, stone restoration, stone carving and lime pointing. We are able to carry out the stonemasonry restoration of our city’s churches.

Wall Repairs

Repairing a wall takes great expertise, and as one of Edinburgh’s longest standing stonemasons, we have the know how to repair or rebuild your wall the correct way. We only use lime mortars in our building, pointing and restoration work.

Chimney Repairs

On average, we have been repairing 10 chimneys in Edinburgh per year over the last 30 years. This means we will carry out your chimney repairs with attention to detail and a high level of mastery.