Gillis Centre


Formerly a Convent School and Seminary, now housing the offices and agencies of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh and a Pastoral Conference Centre, offers peaceful surroundings for retreats, conferences, meetings or private visits.

Gillis Centre is situated near the city centre in peaceful grounds offering Conference and residential facilities. meeting rooms are also available for hire on a daily basis and individuals are welcome to use our bed & Breakfast facilities.

18 bedrooms are ensuite,2 have private bathrooms. All rooms have tea/coffee making facilities. Breakfast is self service,continental. There are 5 meeting rooms holding between 16 - 140 people providing flexible space for meetings and conferences. All meeting rooms are provided with TV/Video, OHP, Screen and Flip Chart.Meals can be provided for groups.Gillis Centre is strictly no smoking.A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund provided improved accees with external/ internal ramps and a lift leading to a twin bedded wheelchair assisted bedroom.Four of the meeting rooms are accessible to people with disabilities.

Gillis Centre is open 7 days a week, 50 weeks a year, closing during the Christmas and New year period.

The site and buildings that form the present Gillis Centre hold a wide and varied interest for secular, church and architectural historians.

The history of the Whitehouse site can be traced back to the 15th century when property comprised a small estate on the outskirts of the city. Over the following centuries, the Whitehouse became connected with the outbreak of the Great Plague and accusations of witchcraft. Also, the Whitehouse holds some 18th century literary associations with some important works written within its walls.

The ecclesiastical history of the site goes back to 1834 with the founding by Bishop James Gillis of the first post-Reformation convent in Scotland. For over 150 years the present Gillis Centre was well known in Edinburgh as St Margaret's Convent and School under the ministry of the Ursulines of Jesus. In 1986, the complex was renamed Gillis College and housed the senior seminary for the Archidiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh until 1995 when the Scottish Bishops decided to locate a National Seminary in Bearsden, Glasgow. The complex now became Gillis Centre, the Archdiocesan offices and agencies moved into the building and work began on developing a coference centre.

As well as the remaining Whitehouse dating back to 1670, the Gillis Centre comprises St Margaret's Chapel designed by James Gillepsie Graham (probably under significant influence from Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin) and opened in 1835. From the same period, the gatehouse and convent building was also designed by James Gillepsie Graham, and Edward Welby Pugin (son of AWN Pugin) designed the school building completed in 1863.

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