Historic Hotels Edinburgh


Originally founded by the altruistic Lady Glenorchy, as a free church for the less-wealthy of Edinburgh’s populace to worship, the chapel was constructed in 1846, as a replacement for the original site, which was demolished in 1844 to make way for the development of Edinburgh Waverley rail station.

The congregation merged with other branches of the church over the next 100 years, eventually becoming known as the Hillside Parish Church. In 1978 the congregation merged fully with the nearby, and much larger, Greenside Church, and the Lady Glenorchy fell from ecclesiastical use.

The old chapel then underwent a variety of guises, including a carpet warehouse; until in 1986 permission was granted to develop the site, on the condition the then 140-year old façade was retained. After much discussion, building work finally commenced in 2000, and 3 years later, the site was reintroduced to the city of Edinburgh as The Glasshouse Hotel.


Lady Glenorchy
Image credit:Sixties Edinburgh

The gothic façade you step through upon entering The Glasshouse would not exist, without the patronage of Willielma Campbell, also known as the Viscountess Glenorchy. Born in nearby Galloway in 1741, Willielma’s life changed when recovering from an illness in 1765. Under the care of the sister of Rowland Hill, the renowned English preacher, she experienced a religious conversion.

Following her husband’s death in 1771, Willielma dedicated the remainder of her life, and vast fortune, to furthering evangelical causes, particularly in Scotland. Not only did she hold evangelistic services in her own Edinburgh home for both the rich and poor, she also established several chapels in Scotland and England, dedicated to providing the poor of their respective cities, a dedicated place of worship.

Lady Glenorchy herself died in 1786, with no surviving children. To ensure her legacy, and the chapels she had gifted to their communities were still able to flourish, she left the bulk of her £30,000 estate to her chapels. The congregation who worshipped at what is now The Glasshouse, now take service at the nearby Greenside Church, whilst the impressive frontage of the old Lady Glenorchy church has been retained and given a new life as The Glasshouse Hotel.