Daniel Defoe’s former home gifted to the nation


A HOUSE worth £1.5m that was once home to author Daniel Defoe has been gifted to the nation.

Moubray House, a four-storey property in the Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, counts the author of Robinson Crusoe among the great and good to have lived there.

The 600-year-old building is currently owned by former US aviation executive Debra Stonecipher.

The house will now be handed over to Historic Scotland.


The tycoon, who is also married to a former head of Boeing, Harry Stonecipher, has agreed to hand over the property to Historic Scotland within the next decade.

The building, which has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two kitchens and is decorated with period furniture and art, will open as a visitor centre.

Debra fell in love with Moubray House during her first visit to Scotland in 1999 and bought the property for an undisclosed sum on a return trip nearly a decade later.

The 55-year-old, who also has homes in Virginia, Florida and Tennessee, said: “It has been a privilege and joy to live in, and to restore, a house that captures over 500 years of Edinburgh’s history and culture.

“I am thrilled to have come home to my Scottish roots, and now to give, in my grandmother’s name, this very special house back to the people of Scotland for all time.

“My grandmother was very proud of her Scottish ancestry. She always loved Scotland and talked about her roots and taught me to love Scotland.

“I told her one day I would travel and bring her here with me to Scotland.”

Debra said she loves Edinburgh.


After buying the property, Debra spent two years renovating it with a team of specialists.

The painted ceiling room alone had crumbling plaster across the walls, floors falling in, broken windows with plants growing through them and no lights.

With the renovation work completed by spring 2011, Debra decided it was time to make sure all the hard work would be preserved for the future.

She added: “At some point in your life, you start to think about giving back. From the very beginning the work I did here was all about my love for Scotland and my love for my grandmother.”

Elizabeth McCrone, Historic Scotland’s head of listing and designed landscapes, said: “We are thrilled that Debra has taken this step and to see this exceptional property pass into our care.

“Moubray House will be a fantastic addition to the agency’s estate.

“This house provides us with a snapshot of how properties in Edinburgh’s Old Town were built and evolved over the centuries.”

In 1710, Daniel Defoe also edited the Edinburgh Courant, a broadsheet newspaper, from the house.

Other former inhabitants  include George Jameson, known as the “Scottish Rubens”.