The recorded history of the lands of Craiglockhart begins with Lockhart of Lee.
The lands are donated to John of Cowie.
Thomas Kincaid is granted ownership by the King.
There are six recorded owners including Alexander Monro, Professor of Anatomy at Edinburgh University.
The lands are sold to the City of Edinburgh Parochial Board.
Thirteen acres of the land is feued to the Craiglockhart Hydropathic Company, who subsequently open the Craiglockhart Hydropathic in 1880.
The building is taken over by the Government as a military hospital for the treatment of shell-shocked officers during the First World War.
The Hydropathic is closed and the building and lands sold to the Society of the Sacred Heart, who open a school and training college for Roman Catholic teachers.
The college is bought by Napier College of Commerce and Technology, now Edinburgh Napier University.
The lands of Craiglockhart can be traced as far back as the 13th century - in around 1250 Lockhart of Lee is recorded as living there. The hills were originally called the Craggis of Gorgin (Scottish records, 1226) and perhaps the origin of the name was Craig Loch Ord (Gaelic Creag = rock/hill), due to the area of water at the base of east Craiglockhart Hill, although it is also clear that people of the name Lockhart have owned the land.
A charter of 1324 records a donation from Helen Lockhart to John of Cowie ... of the lands of Craiglockhart.
The lands of Craiglockhart would have spanned the east and west Craiglockhart Hills. Wester Craiglockhart Hill, the Craig, stands over 500 feet above sea level. On the west shoulder of the hill are the ruins of Craiglockhart Castle, a 13th century medieval keep associated with the Lockhart of Lee family.
The tower still exists. It is nearly square in plan, measuring approximately 28 feet by 24 feet with walls between 5 and 6 feet deep. The most comprehensive description of the tower is in the ‘10th report of the Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland, 1929’ (although it is not mentioned in the 1951 Edinburgh volume of 'The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments'). The report notes that in 1505 the King granted to Thomas Kincaid ... on resignation by Patrick Kincaid of Craiglockhart, the lands of the same with tower and fortalice. By the mid-15th century and throughout most of the 16th the Kincaid family owned Craiglockhart. They forfeited the land at the beginning of the 17th century and the estate passed to the Crown.
In 1609 the lands of Craiglockhart were bought by George Foulis and sold to a John Gilmour of Craigmillar in 1661. Some time later the estate was re-acquired by the Lockhart Family until 1689 when its owner Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath was murdered. It was then held by the Porteous family and George Porteous built a small mansion house on the site of the modern building and let the farm land to tenants. A small watercolour entitled Craiglockhart 1853 (now in the University's possession) shows a two-storey building which stood a little to the north east of the present building, overlooking the pavilion lawn.
In 1726 the lands were sold to John Parkhill and remained in his family until 1773, when they were sold to Alexander Monro, secundus, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh.
The lands remained in the Monro family for almost 100 years, the last time the estate was to be owned as a whole, until, sometime after the death of Alexander Monro, tertius, in 1859, plans were made for feuing out parts of Craiglockhart Estate for building purposes.
These came to fruition in 1863 when Craiglockhart Estate was sold to the City of Edinburgh Parochial Board, who established the New City Poorhouse in 1867. In 1873 the Parochial Board sold much of the west part of the estate to the Craiglockhart Estate Company for residential development. In 1877 thirteen acres between Colinton Road and Wester Craiglockhart Hill was feued to the Craiglockhart Hydropathic Company. The feu charter required the Hydropathic Company to erect buildings within three years to a value of not less than £10,000 and stipulated that no factories or public houses were permitted.
The existing house, which had been used as a farmhouse, was demolished and a "giant Italian villa" was erected by architects Peddie & Kinnear in a commanding position on the north side of Wester Craiglockhart Hill. The main Façade and Belvedere Tower looked north-west over a great sweep of moors to the Firth of Forth and distant hills.
In 1880 Craiglockhart Hydropathic opened for business. In the late 19th- century, hydropathics were becoming very popular and Craiglockhart, with its proximity to the city, was ideally placed to become an attractive resort (an illustrated brochure about The HYDRO dated 1903 is in the National Library of Scotland). To quote from the brochure:
[image of the Hydra brochure front cover]
"The Establishment affords to its residents all the amenities and retirement of quiet country life ... The interior of the building contains a spacious suite of Public Rooms opening off a handsome corridor 140 ft in length and consisting of large Dining-Hall, Drawing-room, Reception-Room, Doctor’s consulting room and a magnificent Recreation Hall ... there are several luxuriously furnished parlours and detached suites of private apartments, commanding extensive and charming views."
"A commodious Billiard-Room ... is also provided. Bedrooms are spacious and light and are most comfortably and elegantly furnished and the entire accommodation is suited to modern requirements and the most fastidious tastes. The Baths which form a special feature in this Establishment comprise a large and luxuriously fitted up Turkish Bath: a spacious and lofty swimming pool, with a water surface measuring 50 ft by 22 ft ... There are also constantly open ... special Bath rooms with all the varieties of hot and cold plunge, vapour, spray, needle, douche and electrical baths ... The gardens extending to about twelve acres have been tastefully laid out with lawn, shrubberies and ornamental plantation, interspersed with agreeable walks leading to various points which command the finest views of the City and surrounding scenery, and there are also courts for Lawn-tennis and Croquet, with Archery-grounds and Bowling greens ... further privilege of wandering ... over the picturesquely wooded hill adjoining which was laid out some years ago at considerable expense with winding paths and pleasant resting spots among its cliffs."
Despite these attractions, the Hydropathic was not greatly profitable, and only one year after opening the directors had to raise a loan of £ 25,000 against the security of the property. Following further financial problems and difficulty in finding a prospective buyer, the Hydropathic was eventually sold to James Bell of Dunblane Hydropathic Company Ltd in 1890. Under Mr Bell’s management Craiglockhart, now re-named the Edinburgh Hydropathic, operated successfully up to the time of the First World War.
Between 1916 and 1919 the building was used as a military hospital for the treatment of shell-shocked officers. It was here in August of 1917 that the poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon first met. Despite the traumas of the war, the few months they spent at Craiglockhart were a productive period for both of them and their relationship was influential, particularly on the poetry of Owen who was only just beginning to find his poetic voice. The work of the doctors at Craiglockhart especially that of Dr William H. R Rivers and Dr Arthur J Brock, was also notable, indeed some of it ground-breaking for the time. The friendship between Sassoon and Dr Rivers was to become life-long.
After the war, the building was returned to its owners and the Hydro reopened. Many things had been changed by the war and there was little future for such an establishment at this time, so the Craiglockhart Hydropathic went into voluntary liquidation in 1920.
It was sold to the trustees of the Society of the Sacred Heart, an enclosed religious order, to be used as a convent and training college for Catholic teachers. Also, at this time Craiglockhart became part of Edinburgh, as the Colinton Parish was subsumed into the city. The main building was added to over the years with a Chapel opened in 1933 and extended in 1963, and a new wing on the other side of the building built in 1957. In 1965 a six-storey hall of residence was added along with a new lecture block, hall and gymnasium and the whole was renamed Craiglockhart College of Education, which it remained for the next 30 years.
The most recent chapter in the history of the building and its environs began in 1986 when the College was bought by Napier College of Commerce and Technology, now Edinburgh Napier University.