I was reading this short article on "A Tour of Edinburgh" when I came to "The Royal Mile" and "John Knox's House".

As the article had not offered very much details about those places, I decided to go online to get some more information where I found out that both "John Knox House" and "John Knox's House" are acceptable forms.

My question is, why the one that doesn't use an apostrophe is still grammatically proper?

2 Answers 2


If the place is regularly called the same thing and it doesn't have an alternate name, it is not uncommon to turn the possessive into a name... in this sense John Knox House is a name. It's a single entity, in many cases, the name is even proceeded by "the" (The John Knox House).

Additionally, in this case, the house with the label "John Knox House" isn't actually his house (Wikipedia).


I think the differentiation is whether a building was named after someone famous, or whether they lived there.

In John Knox's case it appears that some confusion has arisen & people think he lived there.

The several incarnations of Nelson Mandela House - from the fictitious in East London to the real in many other places in the UK - however, suffer no similar confusion - the chap likely never even saw them - & the apostrophe s is never added.

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