One of my top Christmas presents this year was the 1937 Office of Works guidebook to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. [The present giver was rather pleased as the publication year matched their own birth date.]
The guidebook is interesting for a number of reasons, not least as it is more comprehensive than later editions (such as the guides of 1950 and 1968), running to a weighty 160 pages, with six chapters of wider ‘historical sketch’ putting the Palace into context.
It was authored by the Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell, who is described colourfully in the ODNB [link behind subscription paywall] as having “…a charming, if too facile, pen, but such remarkable versatility precluded deep research.” Not so, perhaps, in this extensive guide for the visitor. He held Rhind lectureships in archaeology at Edinburgh in 1893 and 1911, was President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland between 1900–13, and chaired the National Library of Scotland from 1925–32. He died, aged 92, in the year that the guidebook was published.
The guidebook is notable also for its textured cover (unlike many other Office of Works guides of the period), and inclusion of a number of pages of advertising. This includes a quirky insight into what may be considered an important part of the tourist itinerary for Edinburgh at the time – a coach tour of the town, taking in “..several outstanding places of historical interest, such as …University and Royal Infirmary..” !