A sympathetic refurbishment of Scotland’s oldest pub, Duddingston’s The Sheep Heid Inn, is underway at the moment with the pub remaining open.
Assistant Manager David Allan told DRAM, “The walls have been painted a dark green, replacing the old grey colour. Some of the furniture has also been reupholstered in a similar green colour, while a few of the older pieces were beyond repair. We have also carefully retained the old pictures on the walls.”
He continued, “The bar itself is listed so it’s just been sanded down and French polished. We have also increased the covers slightly by six, to 146. We’re also still very much dog-friendly.” The Skittle Alley, installed nearly 150 years ago, has also been treated to an upgrade thanks to investment from Johnnie Walker, who is now sponsoring it. Said David, “This is ongoing. Johnnie Walker will soon be adding new skittles in the shape of Johnnie Walker bottles.”
A Royal haunt since 1580, – and host to the Queen in 2016 – King James VI of Scotland, like his mother Mary Queen of Scots, is said to have stopped there many times and even played skittles in the courtyard.
As a mark of his gratitude to the pub, he presented the landlord with an ornate ram’s head snuffbox which is likely where the name of the pub originated. King James’ VI’s present remained onsite for 300 years, before being sold at an auction to the Earl of Roseberry.