Old College, as it is now called, sits on the same site as the original University buildings.
The chief college building was to be Hamilton House, a mansion built by James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, Duke of Châtellerault, and Regent of Scotland during the infancy of Mary, Queen of Scots. It had been erected on the site of a hospital belonging to Kirk o’ Field, which had been burnt down during the Anglo-Scottish conflict of 1543-50 (the ‘Rough Wooing’), and which Hamilton had bought in 1555. The house was confiscated after Hamilton’s family suffered forfeiture and eventually purchased by the Town Council.
It was not itself, then, covered by Mary’s Charter and James’s confirmation, and would subsequently expose the university to a challenge from the Hamilton family, to whom it was forced to pay compensation. The interior of Hamilton House was refurbished so as to supply class-rooms, a college hall, and seventeen sleeping chambers for students. It was the intention of the Town Council (as expressed in a resolution of 8 November 1583) that students would reside within the college walls. However, even in the earliest days Hamilton House could not have accommodated more than a third of the student populace, and most must have taken lodgings in town.
The First College
Adam and Playfair
Addition of the Dome
For much of the nineteenth century, Old College was dome-less. This was added in 1887 and funded by a donation from Edinburgh industrialist and politician, Robert Cox (1845-1899). As well as being an alumnus, he had a further connection to the University through his marriage to Harriet, daughter of John Hughes Bennet (1812-1875). Design was by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson (1834-1921).
The first major departure from the Old College campus came with the building of the Medical School. Most medical teaching moved to the new building, including sciences, such as Chemistry which were then in the Faculty of Medicine ....