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forgotten treasure

Inch Community Centre is housed in Inch House, one of the most remarkable and unspoiled historic buildings in all of Edinburgh. Inch House is based on a traditional Scottish castellated tower house, much of which appears to have been built in the 16th century. It attained something like its final form under its owner James Winram, Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland (a carved pediment over the original entrance doorway carries the date 1617, along with his initials and those of his wife). New wings were added to the building in 1634 and again in the mid-18th century. During the 1890s extensive additions were made around the courtyard in Scots baronial style by the architects, MacGibbon and Ross, giving Inch House its modern appearance. It is situated in a magnificent surrounding park, Inch Park, a popular recreation place for both visitors and local residents.

Inch House is a building of tremendous charm and interest, especially the imposing tower house at the centre of it, which has retained much of its original character. Of particular historical significance are its grand and ancient turnpike stair, its great vaulted cellars on the ground floor, and many well-preserved rooms, complete with special features such as 17th century fireplaces, decorated ceilings, window shutters and carved wooden door surrounds, as well as original stone garderobes (toilets). On the exterior, Inch House boasts a fine series of graceful, early-17th century, pedimented windows and moulded stone chimneys. A narrow staircase leads to a turret offering magnificent views of Inch Park, Edinburgh Castle, the Pentland Hills and many other landmarks in the south of Edinburgh.

Sir George Winram fell resisting Cromwell’s invading army at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. The head of another legal dynasty, Sir John Gilmour, purchased Inch House in 1660. It was his successor, Sir Robert Gordon-Gilmour, who was responsible for the extensions of the 1890s. The building remained in the family’s ownership until 1946 when sold to Edinburgh Council. It was first used as a primary school, and then in 1968 converted into a community centre serving the local Inch community. It has continued in that role right down to the present day.

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