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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 09/12/1977


  • Local Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Planning Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Parish: Walls And Flotta

National Grid Reference

  • NGRND 30607 96227
  • Coordinates330607, 996227


W R Lethaby, dated 1902. Substantial extension to and remodelling of former croft. 2-storey L-plan main block with smaller single storey orignal range incorporated at S end of S wing. Arts and Crafts house with crowstepped gables, wide low 1st floor windows at eaves and distinctive chimney stacks with deep coping slighly tapered above band course to main block. Harled with stone dressings. Overhanging eaves to main block. Stone cills extended slightly to either side of windows. Coped gable to earlier block.

N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 4-bay. Entrance with gabled rectangular-plan porch to left of centre (diamond-shaped plaque to gable carved with date '1902' and initial 'M'); entrance set back with panelled part-glazed timber door. Small flanking windows; wide low window above. Windows to each floor to flanking bays (those to 1st floor low/wide). Window to outer right bay to ground floor.

S ELEVATION: 9-bay. Gable end of S wing projects to outer left. Narrow window to left of single storey original range; 4 windows (grouped 1-3) to right return. Gable end of S wing of main block set back; 2-bay right return; 2 small windows to left of ground floor; one to right; low wide window to each bay to 1st floor. 8-bay section set back to right. Gabled bay to centre; entrance with glazed 2-leaf timber door to ground floor; breaking eaves dormer above; carved rectangular plaque to gable. Window to each floor to flanking bays (4 to left, grouped 2-2; 3 to right, grouped 2-1); those to 1st floor low and wide, apart from 2 narrower ones (to central bays to left).

E ELEVATION: central window to each floor of gable end.

W ELEVATION: gable end projects slightly to outer right; window to each floor. 3 service entrances set back slightly to right of S wing of main block; 2 to left with boarded timber doors; 2 to right with 4-light rectangular fanlights. Low wide window above that to centre. Stair window to left. Single storey original range adjoins to right. Projecting gabled bay/porch to left of centre; central window; entrance with boarded timber door to right of right return. Narrow window set back to right.

Mainly 12-pane timber sash and case windows and 8-pane casements. Stone (Caithness) slate roof. 3 ridge stacks and one gablehead stack to main block; all with with deep coping slightly tapered towards apex above band course; round cans.

INTERIOR: good interior with chimney-pieces. Plasterwork cast from moulds used at Melsetter House, although less elaborate.

GARDEN WALL: coursed rubble wall with rubble coping encloses garden area to SE of house. Pair of square-plan gatepiers with slab coping immediately to E.

OUTBUILDINGS TO SW: small single storey, rectangular-plan outhouse (originally containing store rooms) immediately to W of 2-storey rear wing. Coursed rubble with stone slate roof. Entrances to N and S gable ends; one to right of E elevation; all with boarded timber doors. Window to right of E elevation. 3 windows to W elevation. Larger outbuilding with loft to SW; rectangular-plan with small outshot with catslide roof to outer left of E elevation. Formerly stable/coach house. Coursed rubble with stone slate roof. Large entrance with plain 2-leaf timber door to right of E elevation; window to left. Entrance to right return of outshot to left. Entrance to right of W elevation; timber door with glazed diamond-shaped panel; flanking windows (that to right small); large entrance with sliding timber door to left. Loft door to N gable end. Entrance to outshot to right of S gable end.

Statement of Special Interest

A very fine house incorporating vernacular and free Arts and Crafts features by one of the most prominent exponents and promoters of the Arts and Crafts movement. The distinctive chimney stacks with their deep tapered/stepped coping and the low wide attic windows are very much of his style and are found on other buildings of his at Melsetter, e.g. the former factor's house (now The Estate Office) (see separate list descriptions). Lethaby worked on a number of buildings in the parish for Thomas Middlemore, a Birmingham industrialist, who purchased the estate of Melsetter (at that time including the entire island of Hoy) in 1898. Lethaby made every effort to ensure that his buildings were in keeping with the local landscape and traditions and often, as here, incorporated earlier structures into his designs. Rysa Lodge was built for Middlemore as a lodge for guests who wished to go shooting. Only the original croft appears on the 2nd Edition OS Map of 1902.



2nd Editon County Series OS MAP; 1/2500 (1902); Godfrey Rubens, WILLIAM RICHARD LETHABY (1986) pp139-40, p300; P Jones, MELSETTER HOUSE in THE ARCHITECT'S JOURNAL, 10th October 1990 pp50-54; Leslie Burgher, ORKNEY, AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1991) p78; John Gifford, THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (in the 'Buildings of Scotland' series, 1992) p341.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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