Georgian townhouse to host Edinburgh Fringe venue

Alasdair Gray is among those appearing at the venue. Picture: TSPL
Alasdair Gray is among those appearing at the venue. Picture: TSPL
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IT IS the £1 million pound townhouse in the heart of Scotland’s capital that was at the centre of a six-year legal wrangle with the city council.

Now the lavish Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh’s New Town is set to become a major new venue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - with the backing of a leading gin company.

Pop-up venue the Carnival of Knowledge, which will have its own “Hendrick’s” cocktail bar, will be operating from One Royal Circus throughout August following a run in Brighton last month.

Billed as a “travelling parlour of entertainment”, the venue has lined up a string of big-name guests including authors Janice Galloway and Maggie O’Farrell, stand up comedian Viv Groskop, artist Alasdair Gray, erotic writer Rowan Pelling and psychologist Richard Wiseman.

There are also a nunber of fine dining and alcohol-themed events planned as part of a programme which is said to have been designed to “stimulate the mind as well as the taste buds.”

Private investigators had been previously hired by the council over the venue, which is marketed as “Edinburgh’s most stylish bed and breakfast.”

However the whole property, the first on the grand 19th century crescent, is available for private hire and has been described in reviews as “a super-cool private members’ club.”

Council officials claimed it was being used as an illegal entertaining venue after discovering that Harry Potter author JK Rowling, funnymen David Walliams and Jimmy Carr, TV presenters Melvyn Bragg and Kirsty Wark, and politician Tessa Jowell had all attended lavish parties there.

However Mike and Susan Gordon, the owners of the property, claimed victory in their long-running battle with the council four years ago, after the council conceded it was only actually being run as an upmarket guest house. Council officials had earlier wanted the couple banned even from allowing cocktail and dinner parties for commercial purposes.

Hendrick’s, which is based in Girvan, Ayrshire, is a luxury gin maker, which supplies the likes of Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Peckham’s and Harvey Nichols.

Duncan McRae, Hendrick’s British Ambassador, said: “We’re extremely excited to be bringing the Carnival of Knowledge to the home of Hendrick’s.

“Guests at the Fringe can expect to have their minds tickled and expanded through attending one of our intriguing lectures, their thirsts quenched with decadent cocktails from our cocktail bars and their stomachs filled during a most unusual banquet event.”

The A-listed property, which dates back to 1823, was designed by one of Edinburgh’s most celebrated architects, William Playfair, and boasts five bedrooms.

It has hosted previously events for the city’s television and film festivals, and was also used in a short film starring Trainspotting actor Ewan McGregor.