The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) is a
medical royal college In the United Kingdom, some Commonwealth realms and Ireland, a medical royal college is a professional body in the form of a royal college responsible for the development of and training in one or more medical specialities. United Kingdom and I ...
in Scotland. It is one of three organisations that sets the specialty training standards for physicians in the United Kingdom. It was established by
Royal charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative as letters patent. Historically, they have been used to promulgate public laws, the most famous example being the English Magna Carta (great charter) of 1215, b ...
in 1681. The college claims to have 12,000 fellows and members worldwide.


The RCPE was formed by a royal charter, granted in 1681, with Sir Robert Sibbald recognised as playing a key part in the negotiations. Three applications preceded this and had been unsuccessful. There were 21 original Fellows, eleven of whom were graduates or students of the
University of Leiden Leiden University (abbreviated as ''LEI''; nl, Universiteit Leiden) is a public research university in Leiden, Netherlands. The university was founded as a Protestant university in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, as a reward to the city of ...
. The
Universities (Scotland) Act 1858 A university () is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in several academic disciplines. Universities typically offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. In the United States, ...
resulted in several items from the College's Charter becoming obsolete, and they obtained a further charter on 31 October 1861. In 1920 the College enacted changes that allowed women to be admitted on the same terms as men. The charter was amended on 7 May 2005.

Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia

In 1699 The College first published a medical guide with standardised recipes ''Pharmacopoea Colegi Regii Medicorum Edimburgensium''; thirteen editions of this Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia were published unit 1841 when it was replaced by a British Pharmacopoeia.


In 1704 the College acquired a house and grounds on Fountain Close, on the Cowgate, in the
Old Town In a city or town, the old town is its historic or original core. Although the city is usually larger in its present form, many cities have redesignated this part of the city to commemorate its origins after thorough renovations. There are ma ...
. On 27 November 1775
William Cullen William Cullen FRS FRSE FRCPE FPSG (; 15 April 17105 February 1790) was a Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist, and professor at the Edinburgh Medical School. Cullen was a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment: He was ...
laid the foundation stone for a new hall and library in George Street in the
New Town New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz Albums and EPs * ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartney, 2013 * ''New'' (EP), by Regurgitator ...
. Architect James Craig, had ideas about expansion but the builders of neighbouring properties found favour instead. The hall was not fully completed until 1830. Unfortunately the great cost of the hall's exterior exhausted the College's finances leaving no money to finish the interior of a building. The College's debt was so much that there was talk of selling the Hall before it was even occupied. The Hall was sold to the
Commercial Bank of Scotland The Commercial Bank of Scotland Ltd. was a Scottish commercial bank. It was founded in Edinburgh in 1810, and obtained a royal charter in 1831. It grew substantially through the 19th and early 20th centuries, until 1958, when it merged with th ...
in 1841 and was demolished. Between 1843 and 1846 the College did not own a meeting place, instead renting a premises at 119 George Street. The foundation stone of a new Hall at 9 Queen Street was laid on 8 August 1844. The new Queen Street Hall was designed by Thomas Hamilton. The Queen Street Hall was completed in 1846. An adjacent building, Number 8 Queen Street was designed by
Robert Adam Robert Adam (3 July 17283 March 1792) was a British neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam (1689–1748), Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him. With his o ...
as a house for
Robert Ord The Right Hon. Lord Robert Ord FRS MP (1700 – 12 February 1778) was a British lawyer and politician. Life Ord was born the son of John Ord, Under-Sheriff of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, of Newbiggin, Fenham and Newminster, Northumberland, and his wi ...
and built between 1770 and 1771, one of the earliest New Town constructions. In 1868 it was purchased by the College, who then leased it to other organisations until 1957. A restoration project began in 1990 and lasted seven years. Numbers 11 and 12 were built around 1780. They were purchased by the college in the 20th century. The space behind 11 was used for the Conference Centre and 12 contains flexible meeting rooms and office space. In 1984 the college put
Richard Dadd Richard Dadd (1 August 1817 – 7 January 1886) was an English painter of the Victorian era, noted for his depictions of fairies and other supernatural subjects, Orientalist scenes, and enigmatic genre scenes, rendered with obsessively minusc ...
's painting of Alexander Morison up for sale, to raise money to treat dry rot.

Sibbald Library

In 1682,
Robert Sibbald Sir Robert Sibbald (15 April 1641 – August 1722) was a Scottish physician and antiquary. Life He was born in Edinburgh, the son of David Sibbald (brother of Sir James Sibbald) and Margaret Boyd (January 1606 – 10 July 1672). Educated at t ...
donated around one hundred books to the college. At the end of the 18th century the library was located at the Royal Infirmary. The college's library in Queen Street bears Sibbald's name in commemoration. The library also has artefacts, such as a medicine chest that belonged to
Stuart Threipland Stuart Threipland MD, FRCPE (18 May 17161805) was a Scottish physician. He was the son of Sir David Threipland, the second baronet of Fingask and, like his father, was an active Jacobite. After qualifying MD from the University of Edinburgh in ...
, physician to
Bonnie Prince Charlie Bonnie, is a Scottish given name and is sometimes used as a descriptive reference, as in the Scottish folk song, My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean. It comes from the Scots language word "bonnie" (pretty, attractive), or the French bonne (good). That ...
. In the 1960s, the information held by the library was modern. From the sixties onward, medical information became more available and college's library became more known for its historical works. In 2015, a project with the
University of Glasgow , image = UofG Coat of Arms.png , image_size = 150px , caption = Coat of arms Flag , latin_name = Universitas Glasguensis , motto = la, Via, Veritas, Vita , ...
digitised a collection of 5,000 letters of William Cullen from the mid-1750s to 1790, making them available online. , the college has catalogued more than 30,000 records that are in its archives.


In 1888 the College took the decision to establish its own research laboratory and initially rented a house in Lauriston Lane, near the Royal Infirmary. A three-storey building on Forest Road was acquired and in 1896 was formally opened as the college's new laboratory. It had areas equipped and fitted for a range of disciplines: Bacteriological, Chemical, and Histological and Experimental. With the creation of the NHS, the laboratory could not depend upon income from their reporting service and it closed in 1950.


Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh The ''Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh'' is a peer-reviewed medical journal covering research in clinical medicine, medical education, and the history of medicine, published by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh ...
(JRCPE) is a peer reviewed medical journal published quarterly by the College. It was established in 1971 as ''Chronicle'', renamed in 1988 to ''Proceedings of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh'', and obtained its current title in 2002.


Following successful completion of the MRCP(UK) or MRCPCH examinations, doctors are eligible to become Members of the College.

See also

* List of presidents of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh


Further reading

* *

External links

* {{Authority control 1681 establishments in Scotland Category A listed buildings in Edinburgh Scottish medical associations Professional associations based in Scotland Organisations based in Edinburgh College of Physicians of Edinburgh Physicians of Edinburgh Science and technology in Edinburgh Charities based in Edinburgh Educational charities based in the United Kingdom Health charities in Scotland