Fourth edition 1953 (2nd impression 1954)
One of the earliest Ministry guidebooks for properties in Scotland was prepared for Edinburgh Castle (1929). The description was by James S. Richardson, with an extended history (pp. 15–40) by Marguerite Wood. It contains black and white photographs with a fouldout plan inside the back cover.
The second edition was published in 1939, and the third in 1948.
1953 (4th ed.; 14th impress. 1973)
This guide continued as the Blue Guide. The plan was moved to the centre pages.
A souvenir guide was prepared for the Ministry of Works by the Central Office of Information in 1960. It has a subtitle, ‘An illustrated guide with the story of the castle through the centuries’. A small plan is placed on p. 3. At the end of the guide are sections on the Scottish United Services Museum; the Honours of Scotland; and the Scottish National War Memorial.
2003 (repr. 2004)
The present Historic Scotland souvenir guide is by Chris Tabraham. It starts with a guided tour (Thirty steps to history), and then a history as ‘Symbol of Scotland’. There are ‘Did you know?’ boxes on each of the double page spreads. The guide also has the logo for the World Heritage Site.
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..” !
The back cover features an advertisement for classic examples of Scottish confectionery, highlighting Edinburgh Rock (available in Tartan).
Twenty thousand copies of this edition of the Official Guide were published.