Mansion house to be opened as banqueting hall

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A HISTORIC mansion house set in botanic gardens will be opened up as a banqueting hall later this year.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) hopes to use Inverleith House to bring in extra income to fund the attraction.

It will be available to hire for the first time in December ­allowing the gardens bosses to cash in on the lucrative festive corporate market.

The Botanics receives three-quarters of its £13.5 million budget from the Scottish Government, but must make up the rest through securing research grants and must raise more than £800,000 income from its shop, restaurant and cafes.

It is understood to be considering hosting indoor or outdoor concerts at the gardens.

Inverleith House, which was built in the late 18th century and has been home to a line of eminent Scots botanists, is currently the world’s only art gallery based in a botanic garden, and its 2012 exhibition by Luke Fowler was nominated for the Turner Prize.

It was also named by Penelope Curtis, director of the Tate Britain, as her favourite gallery.

Sodexo Prestige, which operates catering facilities at the gardens, said demand to hire the venue for fine dining at Hogmanay is expected to be huge.

Paul Mitchell, catering services director at RBGE, said: “We have longed for the chance to use this outstanding space for fine dining and show what is possible here.

“Given the cultural and historical importance of the building and the gallery, we are thrilled it has now entrusted us with this opportunity. It really is an incredibly rare opportunity, particularly since it will be available for Hogmanay.”

Inverleith House will continue to host four exhibitions per year, with leading galleries such as the Tate, National Galleries, Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth.