“Many of our graduates will be happy to learn that the construction of this magnificent hall was financed entirely by profits made from the sale of beer.”
So said one of the speakers at the graduation ceremony.
The hall, which was opened in 1897, was in fact paid for by one William McEwan, the founder of a brewing company of the same name. To this day, most Edinburgh pubs serve McEwan beers and ales, among other brands.
It really is a large and impressive building, and it contains a huge loud imperial organ that makes you feel as though you were back in the days of the British Empire when it starts playing.
The Graduation Ceremony is said to follow “time honoured traditions, some of which can be traced back to the founding of the University in 1583.” These include the Academic Procession, shown in the photo, in which some of the professors and other university officials file into the hall and take their places on the stage.
As the names of the “graduands” are announced, “the Vice-Chancellor confers the degree by touching the head of the graduand with the graduation cap. Popular legend has it that the cap was originally made using the cloth from the breeches of John Knox, although other rumours attribute those breeches to the famous Scottish scholar, George Buchanan.” (Quoted from the Graduation Ceremony Programme.)
This was the only rainy day we had in Edinburgh all week, but that didn’t stop anybody from congratulating the graduates (aka “graduands”) and taking lots of pictures.
In any case, it was just a short walk to the Psychology Building, where a celebration party was held.
Two days later I went back to take a picture of McEwan Hall in the sunlight, just to show it doesn’t always rain in Edinburgh.
My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2020.