Royal Circus, New Town, Edinburgh
From Richard Anderson on May 24th, 2021
The Royal Circus terminates the western end of Great King Street, acting as a counterpart to Drummond Place in Edinburgh's Northern New Town. Built to the designs of William Henry Playfair from 1820, the Royal Circus exploits the dramatic changes of topography as the ground descends from the New Town to Stockbridge and the Waters of Leith. Playfair emphasized this change of levels in a remarkable public stairwell that recalls the visions of Piranesi. The Circus is composed of two semi-circles of terraced houses. Private gardens and a serpentine roadway occupy the centre of the Circus. The grand arcs of the Royal Circus are repeated in the small lanes of mews houses that run behind the main thoroughfares. These lanes are among the most picturesque in the Northern New Town, and their charm is enhanced by their diminutive scale in comparison to Playfair's towering urban fabric.
Text and video by Richard Anderson