What The Dickins: A Tale Of Edinburgh City

24 Doors of Advent: Rock House

This real-life advent calendar lets you open a door a day throughout December! Each day from 1–24 December, a building around Edinburgh that’s usually closed to the public will open its doors, and it’s all completely free.

10th December – Rock House

To celebrate the launch of Rock House, the first 5 Rock House bookings taken from December 10th will receive a 10% discount.


To WIN one of the three floral arrangements by Narcissus Flowers, follow us on Twitter at @DickinsEdin and @NarcissusEH1. Take a picture at Rock House on the 10th December and tag us using #ThisIsRockHouse

To WIN the fantastic mantlepiece decoration, post your best Rock House photo on Instagram and tag @dickins_edinburgh and @narcissus_flowers using #ThisIsRockHouse

*Winners will be chosen as 4pm on December 10th and must be available to collect their prizes from 4.30pm-5pm.

Exterior11DSC_9587In 1843, Rock House was owned by the Scottish photography pioneer and chemist Robert Adamson. Adamson formed a partnership with the artist David Octavius Hill and together, they began to utilise the newly invented Calotype photographic process. The pair is widely credited with having established the use of photography as an art form.

The elevated position of Rock House enabled Hill & Adamson to make use of the abundant natural light. The pair photographed a range of subjects from ordinary people to the glitterati of Edinburgh society, and from architecture to the Newhaven fishing community.

Rock House continued as a photographic studio for over a century, passing through the hands of several prominent photographers including Archibald Burns and Francis Caird Inglis.


What is Calton Hill?

You may be surprised to hear that Calton Hill is actually a volcano…don’t worry, it is very much extinct, and you are safe in Rock House! It is a popular vantage point, with some of the best views of the Edinburgh city skyline and views over the Firth of Forth. Calton Hill, the street upon which Rock House sits, was built from 1750 and pre-dates Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town.

“Of all places for a view, this Calton Hill is perhaps the best”

– Robert Louis Stevenson, 1889


Even as recently as the 20th century, many of the houses atop Calton Hill were without simple provisions such as lavatories and water taps. Luckily, that is no longer the case!

In 2015, Rock House was bought by internationally renowned interior designer, Jonathan Reed and fashion designer, Graeme Black. Together, they have restored the house with great sensitivity and style. 


See the work of Hill & Adamson: Major collections of Hill & Adamson work are held by, amongst others, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Getty Museum and the University of Glasgow.

A significant amount of Hill & Adamson’s negatives and prints had remained at Rock House through various changes of ownership, though sadly, not until 2015.

The work of Hill & Adamson has recently been exhibited in ‘Photography: A Victorian Sensation’ at the National Museum of Scotland.

Look out for:

• A plaque commemorating Hill & Adamson’s partnership mounted on the front of the house

• Original Delph tiles in the twin bedroom on the upper floor of Rock House

• The loo with a view in the upstairs bathroom of Rock House

• An inscription on the window pane in the master bedroom


24 Doors of Advent

Click here for more detailed information about the doors.

1 Dec: Botanic Cottage
2 Dec: Edinburgh Gin Distillery
3 Dec: Gracemount Youth and Community Center 
4 Dec: St Giles’ Cathedral 
5 Dec: The Victorian School Room
5 Dec: National Museum of Scotland
6 Dec: Coburg House
7 Dec: Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory 
8 Dec: Leith Registrars Marriage Suite
9 Dec: Scottish Tourist Guide Cannongate door tour
10 Dec: Rock House
11 Dec: Cockenzie House and Gardens
12 Dec: Customs House 
12 Dec: Edinburgh Playhouse
13 Dec: Mansfield Traquair Centre
14 Dec: Assembly Rooms
15 Dec: Gilmerton Cove
16 Dec: Forth Bridge
17 Dec: New Register House
18 Dec: The Biscuit Factory 
19 Dec: Talbot Rice Gallery
20 Dec: The Glasite Meeting House
21 Dec: Dovecot Gallery
22 Dec: The Real Mary King’s Close
23 Dec: The City Chambers
24 Dec: St John’s Scottish Episcopal Church
24 Dec: Dalmeny Parish Church

Is Rock House for you? Find out more…

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team and they will be delighted to help you. 

Dickins let special and unique Edinburgh self-catering home from home apartments and houses from as little as three nights up to six months. Whether you are a guest staying with us for work, rest or play, we would be delighted to help you find your home from home. 

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We would love to hear from you on social media. Tag us on Instagram or Twitter using #WhatTheDickins and share your Edinburgh experience with others.

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