How our Language School Visits Innerpeffray Library

A wonderful concept at any period in history, but truly innovative for its time:

“For the Benefit of All”

The Library of Innerpeffray was Scotland’s first free public lending library.

It’s such a special place, and one we love to share on our immersion English holidays.  

As a modern-day visitor, you can handle the same 16th and 17th c. books that locals would have travelled miles to take advantage of the unique opportunity to borrow.


Today we are going to give you a flavour of this very special language school excursion, that we offer to our English immersion language guests. 

A Hidden Gem

Spend a bit of time on Trip Advisor and you will see this description of Innerpeffray Library again and again.

I’ve included a few quotes here to demonstrate its charm and attraction to visitors.


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Innerpeffray Library – exterior

The History of the Library

The Library and School at Innerpeffray were founded by David Drummond 3rd Lord Madertie in around 1680 and was the first free public lending library in Scotland.

Madertie was a member of the Drummond Family, still one of the most important landowning families of the area.

John Knox, a Protestant minister during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, had decreed that every person should be able to read in Scotland and have access to books (making the literacy level in Scotland far higher than in England during the Enlightenment).

David Drummond decided to gift his own collection of books to the Library to benefit future generations.

At the time, it was unheard of for anyone to make books available to others free of charge.

Local people of all ranks could come and borrow a book to read to improve themselves and their knowledge and understanding of the world, both on local and worldwide topics.

Books for English Learners

Of primary interest on a Language School visit to Innerpeffrey, is the library’s historic collection of books.

Books that include varied subjects including witchcraft, animals, farming, medicine, European history (and a more recently gifted collection of rare early Scottish books and documents).
It’s just another rich way of getting immersed in our language and culture, can you think of a more pleasant ESL reading exercise?
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Language School Visit Innerpeffray Library old books

Innerpeffray  – old library books



But it isn’t just the ancient old leather bound books on display that makes this an amazing experience – what is really unique about the library of Innerpeffray is that they will actually allow you to handle and read these amazing books – something usually reserved for scholars. There is a small reading room where you can curl up and explore these treasures..”


Trip Advisor Review

The Library’s Location

As a visitor, you can enjoy the short, looping Heritage Trail to the River Earn and explore the whole site at Innerpeffray, which is seeped in tangible history, from Roman times to living memory, including St Mary’s Chapel and graveyard and Innerpeffray School (the local school until 1947).

A view of ruinous Innerpeffray Castle is also a short walk away, and the Roman road from Braco to Perth along the Gask Ridge (with its linked series of Roman forts and watchtowers) also passes through Innerpeffray.


I like to imagine the early book borrowers crossing the landscape, excited about the information tucked under their arm.



“We were staying in the area intending to visit Roman sites but the weather was so frightful that we researched attractions with roofs. One was Innerpeffray library and we were enchanted and impressed with it. It’s an attractive Georgian building in a tranquil, remote wooded setting which houses books from the C17 onwards, on a multitude of subjects, which can be examined in situ or even borrowed. On display were manuscript poems by Robert Burns among others. A knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteer was on site to give us the history of the place. It really is worth searching out and I wish we could have spent more time there.”


Trip Advisor Review

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Handling the historic books at Innerpeffray 

Settle Down and Read

Explore the beautiful surroundings, but do leave yourself plenty of time to soak in the atmosphere of the old library by settling down with a book to actually spend time reading.

This will transport you into what at first feels like an alternative world – but which is revealed to us as exactly our own world – from another moment in time.

Crieffs Cowches Artist Katy Galbraith



“Almost stumbled upon this place by accident..so glad we did. Greeted by ‘The Keeper of the Books’ who introduced us to the history. We then went upstairs to be hosted by 2 guides who explained everything on display. Upon mentioning our home town they sought out references to it. We spent 90 mins there and we could have spent more. Highly recommended. The true definition of a ‘hidden gem’.”


Trip Advisor Review

A Guided Tour

There are few historical sites that have offered such a strong and tangible taste of history: its experts and curatorship are superb.
Blue Noun English Language School visitors will have a guided tour of the whole site and an introduction to the collection by its staff – including the opportunity to discover antique books relating to their own country, interests or profession.
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Visit Perthshire Drovers Tryst

Innerpeffray Chapel

English Language School Visit | Innerpeffey Chapel


Innerpeffey Chapel is a must see.

If you read this English language School blog, you’ll know we’re big fans of places where you can explore on your own.

It’s not that we’re unfriendly!

There’s just something magical about being alone in a historic space that allows the imagination to flow.

Anywhere that you have to push open a wooden door and enter a space otherwise standing empty and timeless.

Trust me, come and visit us and you’ll get this experience and see!

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Visit Perthshire Drovers Tryst

Innerpeffray Chapel – masonry carving

Artists talk | Roman Remains


As mentioned, Innerpeffray is sited on a ridge of Roman forts that crossed the landscape in a line, their remains still visible. 

This knowledge helps to place the historic library in a landscape of time and populations. 

Exploring one of the forts near Innerpeffray we found chantarelle mushrooms growing. I made this little video as I was impressed by the thought that this little fungus had been part of the Roman soldier’s diet. A real taste in time. 

paint splatter

A Visit to Innerpeffray Library

How this English conversation activity helps your English and positively impacts our community:


✅ Great for mental/physical health

🟠  benefits our local community.

✅ a good introduction to Scottish culture

✅ preserves craft skills, historic machinery, monuments etc.

⭕ supports Scottish industry/agriculture

✅ gets you talking with a rich and diverse selection of people, or about diverse subjects.

🟠 explores Scottish wildlife in non-invasive ways 

⭕ supports arts & artists

✅ financially contributes to preserving culture

✅ is for fun & feeling good in English.

Further Information

Find out more about Innerpeffray Library,  including getting the Library of Innerpeffray’s ‘Book of the Week’. 

If you would like another blog exploring historic Scotland’s built environment, try:

A Language School Visit to Stirling Castle


Scotland’s Best/Worst Soldier?