Posted by: christinelaennec | August 29, 2012

The Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self-Aid Society

The shop I visited on my jaunt to Edinburgh last week is also rightly called The Treasure Trove, and it deserves a post of its own.  It was started in 1882, and its first name was the “Repository for Gentlewomen” (from the organisation’s website).  To my mind, it’s a great example of local fairtrade practice.  All manner of crafts are sold here, made by people across the UK who are on a limited income, and with profits going to the makers.

The shop seen from the side, Castle Street, Edinburgh.

One of the things I love about this shop is that you never know what you will find here.  Last week there were preserves, a knitted Queen, a kilted rabbit, and thistle tea cosies (next to the Queen):

In the window of the Treasure Trove.

It’s worth taking time to look carefully, for many of the best things lie in drawers that slide out (more thistle tea cosies to be seen in the top drawer):

Some of the treasures there, including in deep pull-out drawers.

I bought my current knitting bag here, found at the back of such a drawer.  Look at the quality of the Fair Isle tams and gloves:

Exquisite knitting!

The prices are more than reasonable, and the location couldn’t be better.  Here is the view from the shop’s front door:

How Castle Street Got Its Name.

Kate Davies also blogged about this wonderful shop, here.  Her blog post sketches out the historical background to the many “indigent gentlewomen” who tried to support themselves through the work of their hands.

I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that (according to the website) the people who sell their creations through this shop now include men, younger people, single parents and the spouses of those who are unemployed.  But I’m glad it’s there!



  1. How interesting, I had heard of the gentlewomen’s repository but had completely forgotten they had a shop on Castle Street. After seeing your photos I realise I must try and visit it one of these days. I love the purple queen, but I think I’d be hard pushed to pass up the tiger, he would match my hot water bottle cover perfectly! The Fair Isle knits are beautiful.

  2. This is very interesting – I worked in George Street (around the corner from here) and never came across this shop. I agree with you that there is a certain melancholy in the nature of the folk who now provide the shop with their wares. Has also re-inspired me to encourage my second son to study in Edinburgh – need to re-open the Scottish connection!

  3. Must put this on my list for Edinburgh. I would love this shop!

  4. Thanks for telling us about it, I’ll endeavour to go there next time I visit Edinburgh! xx

  5. the merchandise in this shop is lovely. I especially like the knitted things. thanks for telling us about the shop. I’d like to visit it next time I’m in Edinburgh (hopefully soon 😉 ). Great view out the front door too.

  6. Must tell my two daughters still living in Edinburgh. Fantastic. Regarding the widening of the crafter source, I hope like me and many of us they get satisfaction and the stress free euphoria one gets from hand crafting.

  7. may I hugg you…you might just have thrown me a life line with this…thank you:):)

  8. This is a great concept and what a gorgeous location! Some very talented craftspeople there…I am amazed at the knitting! A nice place to visit for you to find a special treasure. xx

  9. I’ve visited Edinburgh regularly in recent years as my son is at uni there but I’ve not seen this shop or if i have I haven’t realised what it is, so when my daughter and I are there in Novemember I will visit it – thank you

  10. Nice post and a great idea. Thanks for sharing. Greetings from Thailand. K

  11. What a beautiful shop. I could spend a lot of money there.

  12. I spent quite a lot of time at the Edinburgh Bookfestival this summer, not having much time for anything else. It’s amazing the shops you managed to find. I could not help noticing how down-at-heel Princes Street has become!

  13. Dear all,

    Thanks very much for your comments and greetings. Yes, this shop really is a “treasure” and if you do go there, I’m sure you’re bound to find something for gifts and for yourself as well.

    Fifona, I’ve noticed that if you even try to ask Edinburghers about the tram fiasco they just purse their lips and change the subject! I wouldn’t say it’s helped Princes Street, but to my eyes it’s still pretty vibrant.

    Ells, some things are more than coincidence. If this has helped, I’m very pleased. All the best to you!

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