Raeburn Place History


Raeburn Place was built 1814-25 in the grounds of the estate owned by Henry Raeburn, the portrait painter. It was developed as a mixture of tenements and villas, one of which was Somerset Cottage, later to become the Raeburn House Hotel.

The map shows the existence of both the Edinburgh Academical ground and the Grange Cricket Club on the edge of the suburbs, bounded by fields. To the south lies a public park, highlighting the existence of leisure facilities in the area prior to the creation of Inverleith Park and the development of the city. 


Inverleith Park was laid out by the city council in 1890. It lies to the north of the site and to the west of the Royal Botanic Gardens, which moved to their current location from Leith Walk in 1822.

The map of 1896 shows the gradual development of Comely Bank which was developed from William Fettes estate. 


By 1944 the area surrounding the site is fully developed, and the two villas contemporary to Somerset Cottage have been lost to tenements. With such development the site clearly becomes part of the boundary that separates the dense residential area of Stockbridge and Comely Bank with the open and greener areas to the north.

Somerset Cottage has itself been through a few changes, with the first alterations occurring in 1925. Plans show vertical subdivision of the house in order to provide two houses for staff of Edinburgh Academy. 


The largest addition to the area, shown by the map of 1973, is Broughton High School. The school was established in 1887 and moved to the current site in the 1980s. The building has since been replaced, reopening in 2009 but remaining in the same location.

It was during the 1970s that Somerset Cottage became the Raeburn House Hotel, after Edinburgh Academy sold the building in the late 1960s. It briefly functioned as a guesthouse before changing to a hotel in the 70s. It was then that any traces of the house’s original parlour and kitchen were lost through alterations. 


Historical Notes

International rugby is now played worldwide. International competition culminates in a four yearly world cup tournament organised by World Rugby. However not many people are aware that Scotland, and in particular EAFC were at the forefront of the establishment of the international game:

  • Raeburn Place was acquired by the Edinburgh Academy in 1854.
  • "Football” was played by many towns and schools (including the Edinburgh Academy) throughout the early 19th century but there were no common rules. Rugby School codified some rules and these were adopted by the Edinburgh Academy in 1855.
  • EAFC was formed in 1857, the second oldest rugby club in the world. Its formation and name pre-date the splitting of the Rugby and Association codes in 1864 (in layman’s terms when rugby and football as sports as we know them today went their separate ways). The oldest recognised “football” club in Scotland, Queens Park, formed in 1867.
  • The first international rugby game was instigated by five Scottish club captains (including F Moncreiff of EAFC and A Robertson of West of Scotland) who challenged the English clubs to a game of football under rugby rules. The challenge was accepted on behalf of the English clubs by another Scot, B Burns, who at that time was club secretary at Blackheath in London. Moncreiff, Robertson and Burns had all attended the Edinburgh Academy and, in fact, had all been classmates during the 1860s

  • Raeburn Place was the venue of the first international on 27 March 1871. Scotland beat England by a goal and a try to a try (in those days a goal was a converted try). Moncreiff, Robertson and Burns (who played for England on the day), along with six other Accies, played in this match.
  • The Club was instrumental in the formation of the Scottish Football union in 1873 (renamed Scottish Rugby union in 1924) and is acknowledged as the most senior club by the SRU. EAFC members J Chiene and J Wallace were the first President and Secretary respectively.
  • Raeburn Place was again the venue for the first Calcutta Cup game (Scotland v England) in 1879. Significantly Benjamin Burns had moved to Calcutta in the interim and had played for the Calcutta Football Club. When that club folded in 1878 its club funds were used, in melted down rupees, to make the cup. This cup is still played for annually between Scotland and England.
  • HA Macdonald (Lord Kingsburgh), one of the founding members of the Club and the gate man at the first international, was the arbiter appointed by the Celtic nations to resolve the rule dispute with England that had prevented these nations playing internationals for several years during the 1880s. The successful arbitration led to the International Rugby Board (IRB) being acknowledged by all rugby playing nations as the final arbiter of the laws.
  • JA Gardner, a former captain of EAFC and the then Secretary of the SFU, was one of the founding fathers and first Secretary of the IRB. A member of Glasgow Academicals became the first President.
  • Bill Maclagan, a player and later President of EAFC, went on to captain both London Scottish and the first British (Lions) touring team in 1891. He had been given a cup by Sir Donald Currie, a Glasgow shipping magnate, which Maclagan presented to the team who played best against the British team. This cup is now the trophy played for by South African domestic teams.
  • Two of the three Scottish Captains of Grand Slam teams also played for EAFC – GPS McPherson (1925) and David Sole (1990).
  • There have been more than 100 members of the Club and School who have been capped for their country – more than any other club in Scotland and almost 1 in 10 of all Scottish Internationalists. 



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