Just over 181,700 paying visitors bought tickets to visit Rosslyn last year, according to the Trust which manages it, smashing 2006 numbers of 175,074 visitors.
The historic Midlothian church came to worldwide prominence in 2003 when it was identified as the hiding place of the Holy Grail in Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, and the subsequent film released three years later. Visitor numbers rose dramatically at that time.
Ian Gardner, director of Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said: “It is wonderful to have welcomed a record number of visitors in 2017. As a charity, Rosslyn Chapel Trust depends on income from visitors, donation and legacies, to conserve the Chapel for future generations to appreciate, and so each visitor makes a valuable contribution to help us continue this work.
“Annual passholders and children in family groups do not pay for admission and so when those numbers are added, we welcomed the remarkable number of over 196,000 visitors in total in 2017. Visitors come from far and wide and it’s great that historic buildings, such as the Chapel, continue to hold such strong appeal.”
Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair and, although it took forty years to build, was incomplete at the time of his death in 1484. The beauty of its setting and its ornate medieval stonework have inspired, attracted and intrigued visitors and artists for generations.
The Chapel continues to be a working church, within the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Edinburgh. However, in 2006, the priest at the time, Rev Michael Fass, resigned amid claims that he felt he could no longer tolerate the worldwide hype generated by Brown’s book, claiming it was becoming a “Disneyland” for fans of the novel. Rev Fass had been at the chapel for nine years before his departure.
The building was seen in all of its glory for the first time in 14 years in 2010, when a ‘cage’ of scaffolding and a steel canopy to protect its crumbling roof were finally removed following major renovation works.