Opening Times & Event Info
Dr Neil's Garden is open every day including weekends from 10 am till Dusk.
- Illustrated Talk "Making Time in the Sun" Thursday 9/3/17 19:30
The Garden Room
- The Garden Room is now open again for Summer 2017. Opening Hours are:
•Wednesday to Saturday 10:00 to 16:00
•Sunday 13:00 to 14:00
For more information on events and special weekends see the What's On page.
No dogs allowed
The Tower is open to the public free of charge on Sundays 2pm – 4pm during July and August, or by special arrangement.
History of Thomson’s Tower
Thomson’s Tower is a unique octagonal building located on the shore of Duddingston Loch. It was designed in 1825 by William Henry Playfair (1789-1857), for the Duddingston Curling Society so that curling stones could be stored close to the Loch edge, and to provide a meeting space for members above.
The Rev. John Thomson (1778-1840) was the minister of Duddingston Kirk from 1805 until his death. He was a well known landscape painter, and when the upper chamber of the Tower was not required by the curlers, Thomson used it as a painting studio where he could work undisturbed. A convivial man, he entertained a wide circle of friends in the manse at Duddingston including fellow-artists JMW. Turner and Henry Raeburn. The famous painting of The Rev. Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch (in the National Gallery of Scotland) was painted by Raeburn.
In 1853 Duddingston Curling Society ceased playing on Duddingston Loch, and the curlers moved to Coates, to the north west of Princes Street. A revived Duddingston Curling Club was formed in the 1890s and still exists today, though their curling now takes place at Murrayfield Ice Rink.
The Tower was completely derelict and roofless in 1978 when it was re-roofed by the Duddingston Village Conservation Society, with donations received from various interested associations, particularly the Rotarian Curling Society of Canada. During 2008-09, Dr Neil’s Garden Trust restored the Tower – with grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, and it now contains exhibitions about curling past and present, Playfair, Thomson, and the Garden.
The Tower is open to the public on Sunday afternoons in July and august, 2-4pm, and on request.