Moray House Garden Pavilion – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Moray House Garden Pavilion

This unassuming shed was the stage for a monumental event in British history. 


It may be surprising to many people, let alone the proud citizens of Scotland, that the signing of the Act of Union with England took place in a rather nondescript building just a few yards away from Holyrood Palace. The combined unification of both England and Scotland had been hotly debated for over a century. It wasn’t until King James VI of Scotland, who became known as King James I of England, (or “Union Jack”), took the throne in 1603 that the aforementioned countries joined Ireland and Wales to become Great Britain. Still, it took another 100 years before the Treaty of the Union was officially signed in 1707.

As you might imagine, the general population of Scotland was not at all too keen on unification. There were reports that only one out of every 100 Scots was in favor of merger between the two states. It was generally believed that it was the rich land owners who were behind unification, and it was not uncommon to hear riotous crowds of hostile common folk chant “no Union” in the streets of the capital and beyond.

With these tense malevolent happenings occurring in the background, it was up to Earl of Seafield, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, to draw up the various articles of the treaty. Seafield happened to be a guest in Moray House, an impressive 17th-century mansion located in the Canongate, an area situated on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The pro-Unionist who had gathered to sign the treaty were meant to sign the document in a building along the High Street, but because of the strong vocal opposition, they chose the more basic garden shed to finalize the deed. So, the act that united Scotland with England took place in a common building, away from prying eyes.

Know Before You Go

The pavilion is located on Holyrood Road, in what is now a parking lot. It is adjacent to Patersons Land, which is a part of Edinburgh University. There is a gate that will close when school is not in session, in the evenings and on weekends. There is no access to the inside of the shed.

Moray House is now the entrance and provides classrooms to the aforementioned school, it is located on the Canongate. Opposite the souvenir shop, Prestige Scotland, 187 Canongate. The balcony is to the left of the entrance.

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October 10, 2019

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