St Cecilia’s Hall, designed by Robert Mylne and named after the patron saint of musicians, was built for the Edinburgh Musical Society with the first concert in honour of St Cecilia held in the new hall in December 1763. It is the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland, and the second-oldest in the UK.
Robert Mylne (1733 – 1811) designed the building as an oval hall at first floor level, reached by a double staircase from an entrance lobby, which also led to a ground floor room, referred to early on as ‘the rehearsal room’. However, with the completion of the South Bridge in 1787, the situation of St Cecilia’s Hall had been severely compromised and the popularity of the concert hall waned towards the end of the 18th century. The following centuries saw a number of different uses – religious, Freemasons, book bindery and dance hall, until it was purchased by the University of Edinburgh to house a collection of early keyboard instruments. After going through radical alteration, addition, and reinstatement of 18th century interiors the building re-opened as a concert hall in 1968.
Simpson & Brown was appointed to write a conservation statement that explored the conservation issues affecting both the building and collections.