Catch a glimpse of Provost Skene’s House and images of medieval cobbled streets, traversed by street cleaners and fishermen will spring to mind. First referred to in 1545, this turreted building in Scotland’s third city wasn’t a castle but a town house, the home of wealthy merchants and bishops.
Nowadays it’s an attractive period museum, home to a 17th‑century great hall, parlour and bedroom, and an 18th‑century dining room, regency parlour and bedroom.
The ceilings alone make the museum worth a visit. The thistles, fleur-de-lys and crowns of the plastered ceiling of the great hall take the visitor back in time to 1660 when, during the English Interregnum, Charles II was crowned king of Scotland. In the 17th‑century bedroom, a plaster-sculptured coat of arms – three daggers with wolf heads – was to remind Sir George Skene, a merchant who made his fortune in foreign trade and who was Provost of Aberdeen from 1676 to 1685, of his duties as soon as he lifted an eyelid.
The vaulted ceiling of the painted gallery contains ten panels that tell the story of Jesus’s life. The survival of this Catholic decoration through the Reformation makes the painting among the most important cycles of religious painting in Scotland. As some of the armorial devices indicate that they might have been created during Matthew Lumsden’s residency from 1622 to 1644, the cycle must have been there when the house was home to Provost Skene.
Don’t miss: The miniature Classical figures on the wainscoting of the Small Painted Gallery.
Provost Skene’s House
Open Mon–Sat 10am–5pm
Aberdeen visitor information: 01224 288828