The history of the building
There was an earlier Tower House of unknown date at Lauriston. This was bombarded during the Earl of Hertford’s 1544 campaign, the so called ‘rough wooing’ of Edinburgh.
The present castle was built as a later style tower house or ‘Scottish Keep’ in about 1593 for the Napier family. A two-storey extension was added between 1824-27 by the Architect William Burn (1789-1870) for Thomas Allen, the Edinburgh banker and owner of the Caledonian Mercury newspaper. An upper storey was added to the servants’ wing in the 1870s to house the Library.
Among the many notable owners was Alexander Napier (1572-1629). Alexander, like his half-brother, John (famed for his calculation of logarithms), was interested in the sciences and studied Astronomy and Astrology.
John Law (1671-1729), was Lauriston’s most remarkable owner. His banking schemes in France, under the Duc d’Orleans, made him briefly, the Comptroller General of the finances of France and the world’s first ‘Millionaire’.