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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
  • Group Category Details: B - (see NOTES)
  • Date Added: 14/12/1970


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 21266 67794
  • Coordinates321266, 667794


18th century farmhouse (now NW wing) with extensive additions: 1836, W H Playfair, tower and E range; 1874, David and John Bryce, remodelled farmhouse adding 3rd storey and bartizans; 1888-9 Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, library (S) wing; 1946, Stewart Kaye and Partners, converted to 5 flats. Tall Playfair wing to centre: square-plan 4-storey crenellated tower with rounded corners; 4-stage, square-plan crow-stepped staircase tower to W; five storey and attic circular dormered turret advanced to S; single-storey service courtyard to E. 2-storey and attic, crow-stepped Sydney Mitchell wing advanced to left with bartizans and projecting bay to W. 3-storey former farmhouse to NW with crowstepped gable and bartizans. Roughly dressed coursed rubble to Playfair towers; random rubble to E wing; squared, coursed rubble with droved ashlar dressings to original farmhouse; crisp, squared, bull-faced, snecked rubble with polished ashlar dressings to S wing. Eaves course to farmhouse; S wing with 1st floor cill course, eaves cornice, and dentiled string courses to bartizans. Long and short ashlar quoins to farmhouse and S wing. Droved ashlar window margins to farmhouse; roll-moulded window architraves to S wing; long and short ashlar quoins to smaller windows. Stone-finialled gablet-headed dormers breaking eaves to farmhouse and Playfair wing; timber dormers to S wing.

S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: L-plan: Playfair wing to centre; service wing to right; Sydney Mitchell wing advanced to left. Playfair wing: timber boarded studded door with decorative cast-iron door furniture in roll-moulded and corniced architrave frame to advanced central conical-roofed circular tower with lightning conductor; 2 windows flanking door; irregular fenestration above; 4 finialled dormers to roof. Main tower-house recessed to right; ball-finialled, dog-legged forestair to glazed timber door at first floor of round tower, with stone balusters at lower flight; bronze profile of Lord Cockburn over door; 2 bipartite mullioned windows at 1st floor; large transomed and mullioned window at 2nd floor; 2 small windows at top floor; ashlar-coped crenellated parapet corbelled out at roof. Square staircase tower recessed to left of circular tower; 1888 bipartite transomed and mullioned window at 1st stage; 1888 staggered bipartite window with stained glass at 2nd stage; dormer to attic. E wing: long coped wall with regularly spaced urns on raised plinths (lean-to roof behind); 4 windows. Sydney Mitchell wing: crowstepped gable to S with French door at ground, window at 1st floor in advanced, corbelled, architrave frame, plain window to gable apex; 2 decorative bartizans corbelled out from ground floor; tall window with short window above at 1st floor to both bartizans; timber boarded door to right bay of right return, transomed, mullioned window above, window at ground to left, swept dormer to attic.

W (GARDEN) ELEVATION: crowstepped gable of former farmhouse to left; off-centre windows at 1st and 2nd floors; small bartizans corbelled out at 2nd floor; gablehead stack. Right return irregularly fenestrated with 2 large gabled dormerheads. Sydney Mitchell wing to right; central advanced crowstepped gable, slightly corbelled out at 1st floor, irregularly fenestrated, bipartite dormer to right return. Symmetrical flanking bays with single window at ground, bipartite transomed and mullioned window at 1st floor and small dormer to attic. Link-bay to left, irregularly fenestrated.

N (REAR) ELEVATION: irregularly fenestrated Playfair wing to centre with large transomed and mullioned window at 2nd floor. Former 3-bay farmhouse adjoining to right; glazed timber door at centre with flanking windows; regular fenestration to 1st floor; gabletted dormers to central and left bays flanking shouldered stack. Service wing advanced to left with ball-finialled coped wall; half-glazed timber boarded door; 2 windows to left, 5 windows to right.

E (SIDE) ELEVATION: of service courtyard. Central crowstepped gable with earlier stone at apex dated 1642 over round-arched gateway. Flanking ashlar-coped walls with ball-finials at corners.

Timber sash and case windows with predominantly 12-pane and 4-pane glazing. Graded grey slate; fish-scale slates to bartizans by Bryce. Coped and corniced stacks; plain or octagonal cans. Cast-iron downpipes with decorative hoppers; one hopper to N dated 1866.

INTERIOR: sympathetically divided in to 5 flats and retaining many original features including many fireplaces and most interior timber panelled doors. HALL AND STAIRCASE: entrance hall with cornice and small square flagstones; broad, stone, newel staircase with mahogany baluster to top flight; 2 stained glass windows depicting armorial bearings, the upper window shows the English lion and the Scotch unicorn. FORMER DINING ROOM, in 1st floor flat, Playfair; deep cornice, plaster ceiling decoration, plaster panelling and dado, picture rail, timber panelled shutters, original black slate chimneypiece with cast-iron grate. FORMER DRAWING ROOM, 2nd floor flat, Playfair; plaster cornice and dado; fireplace with original tiled grate and later marble mantelpiece. Small alcove off drawing room; original fireplace with cast-iron grate, tiled inside, marble mantelpiece; marble-framed glazed cabinet over mantelpiece with scrolled broken pediment. LIBRARY: fitted glazed bookcases with cupboards below; timber panelling elsewhere; plaster cornice with gilded oak-leaf motif; timber panelled doors at N end in gothic-style doorpieces with crocketted pediments; beamed timber ceiling; large roll-moulded sandstone ingleneuk with gothic capitals and corbels; roll-moulded, shouldered fireplace with red glazed brick cheeks, cast-iron grate and timber mantelpiece with tile insets; tapestry panels above fireplace depicting figures in Elizabethan dress. Small CLOSET off library; completely tiled with delft tiles (see Notes), probably installed circa 1905. LIGHT WELL between stair tower, library wing and old farmhouse; lined with white glazed bricks. TOP FLAT: window pane in S dormer of turret signed "John McGregor, 1859"; entrance to roof through timber panelled door with screw lock in thistle-finialled, gabled doorpiece.

GATES, GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALL: cast-iron gothic style 2-leaf gates with cast-iron gothic style, crown-capped and finialled octagonal gatepiers; adjacent footgate and spear-headed railings. Coped sandstone rubble boundary wall. Gate lodge not listed.

GARDEN TERRACES AND STEPS, GARDEN GATES AND GATEPIERS, STATUARY AND BRIDGE: stone steps with ashlar copes and ball finials to grassed terraces. Decorative wrought-iron gate to enclosed garden; arched rubble gateway with key-blocked arched recesses containing statues of Sir James Douglas (to the left) and Robert The Bruce (to the right). Inscriptions over recesses read "My King And Country Ever Claimed / Those Marshall Deeds For Which I?m Famed" and "I Scotland's Glorey Made Returne / Victoriously At Bannockburn". Decorative wrought-iron gate to rear of garden between plain coped rubble gatepiers. Small, heavily overgrown, rubble carriage-bridge, over Dean Burn near Gate Lodge. Statue of Shakespeare in curved recess in boundary wall at W end of garden, the only statue of Shakespeare in Edinburgh, it was salvaged from the demolition of the Theatre Royal in Shakespeare Square in 1860. Numerous other pieces of decorative stonework in garden, including several urns, 2 decorative bird-baths and a plaque depicting Edinburgh Castle.

Statement of Special Interest

B-Group with Stable Block and Lord Cockburn's Bath and "Ruined Chapel" in the grounds of 71 Bonaly Road (originally part of Bonaly Tower garden). An impressive Baronial Castle at the foot of the Pentland Hills. The date of the original farmhouse is uncertain, but it probably dates from the mid-eighteenth century. The earliest map to show the settlement of Bonaly is John Laurie's 1763 Plan of the County of Midlothian. Kirkwood's 1817 map has a little picture of the farmhouse. Lord Cockburn, the eminent lawyer, took a lease on the "barely habitable" farmhouse after his marriage in 1811, and in 1829 purchased it and the surrounding land. In 1826 William Burn produced plans for a neo-Tudor "Cottage House", but this was not built, and in 1836 Playfair's convincing tower house was built next to the original farmhouse. Cockburn died in 1854, and Bonaly was sold to John Gray Esq, the proprietor of the North British Advertiser. In 1866 it was sold again to William T Thomson Esq, who was the manager of Standard Life Assurance Company and who commissioned Bryce to add a 2nd floor and bartizans to the farmhouse (comparisons with the David Octavius Hill photographs show that Bryce's work was additions, and not a complete re-build). William Ballantyne Hodgson, Professor of Political Economy at Edinburgh University bought Bonaly in 1871. He died in 1880, but his widow continued to live in the house for several years, and had the library wing built. Bonaly was requisitioned by the army during the 2nd World War, and in 1946 it was divided into flats. However, the interiors have been well preserved, particularly the library, and the Playfair Dining and Drawing rooms. The tiled closet off the library was probably a washroom or WC. Some of the tiles are Victorian, but a number are believed to be original 17th century Delft tiles.

The garden at Bonaly is of particular interest, as it contains a large number of statues and pieces of decorative stonework. These were collected by Lord Cockburn, who took an interest in old buildings. The statue of Shakespeare came from the original Theatre Royal in Shakespeare Square which was at the East end of Princes Street. Unfortunately very little else is known about the other pieces. The garden also contains a croquet lawn, a large garden enclosed with a yew hedge and a wilderness.

The lodge at the entrance was substantially altered in 1975 and is not listed. The former stable block is listed separately.



John Laurie, Plan of the County of Midlothian, 1763. Robert Kirkwood, A Map of the Environs Of Edinburgh, 1817. David Octavius Hill, PHOTOGRAPHS OF BONALY TOWER in National Portrait Gallery, circa 1850 or 1860 (shows original farmhouse unaltered). Appears on 1855 OS map; Sydney Mitchell Wing on 1894 OS map. John Small, CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF THE LOTHIANS, Volume I (1883, shows house with Bryce additions, but before Sydney-Mitchell wing added). James Grant, OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH, Volume III (1883), p326 and p328. THE BRITISH ARCHITECT, Volume 32, p91 & p97, illustration of Library wing. Gifford, McWilliam & Walker, BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: EDINBURGH, p436 & p518. Lynne Gladstone-Millar, THE COLINTON STORY, p97.

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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