W H Playfair, designed 1820. Near-symmetrical classical range with 24-bay elevation to Leopold Place, 3-bay quadrant corner with 2-storey distyle in antis Ionic colonnade to E and 6-bay elevation to Windsor Street; 3-storey and basement (attic storey to Windsor Street, corner elevation and advanced pavilions; sub-basement level to Windsor Street elevation, corner elevation and right half of Leopold Place elevation). Polished ashlar; smooth V-chamfered rustication to ground floor to Leopold Place elevation; droved ashlar to basement; coursed rubble with dressed margins to rear. Base course; dividing band between basement and ground floor; 1st floor cill band; 2nd floor cill band (not to corner elevation); main modillioned cornice (dentilled to corner elevation); cill band, eaves course and blocking course (to attic storeys only); balustraded parapet (to central section to Leopold Place elevation only). Predominantly regular fenestration; segmental-headed openings to basement; architraved windows to ground and upper floors (excluding corner elevation and ground floor to Leopold Place).
S (LEOPOLD PLACE) ELEVATION: 5-bay advanced pavilions to outer left and right. To basement: to 3rd, 8th, 10th 15th, 17th and 22nd bays from left to basement, timber-panelled (timber and glazed to 3rd bay) doors in segmental-headed openings with 3-light (4-light to 15th and 17th bays) fanlights; small window to right of door at 10th and 17th bays; small window to right of door at 8th and 15th bays; to 23rd bay, modern timber and glazed door in altered segmental-headed window opening. To ground floor, to 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th 17th and 22nd bays from left, steps and platts (mutual steps and platt to 8th, 9th and 10th bays and 15th, 16th and 17th bays) overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door (2-leaf timber-panelled door to 3rd and 22nd bays) with letterbox fanlight (with 5-oval-light glazing to 3rd, 9th, 16th and 22 bays). To advanced pavilions, to first floor; consoled pediments to windows to centre and outer left and right bays; corniced windows to inner left and right bays. To second floor, cast-iron balconnettes to 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd bays from left.
E (CORNER) ELEVATION: to outer left bay to basement, 2-leaf timber-panelled door in segmental-headed opening with 2-light fanlight. To ground floor, to right bay, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door and fanlight with half-wheel glazing pattern in recessed round-arched opening; to centre and left bays, windows with aprons in recessed round-arched openings. To first floor, 2 giant engaged Ionic columns dividing bays. To attic floor, pilaster-strips dividing bays.
SE (WINDSOR STREET) ELEVATION: to basement, to 1st bay from left, timber-panelled door and segmental fanlight with radiating glazing pattern in segmental-headed opening; to 4th bay from left, modern glazed and timber door with 6-pane letterbox fanlight and narrow 2-pane margin light to right. To ground floor, to 1st and 4th bays from left, steps and platts overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door (2-leaf to 4th bay) with 5-oval-light letterbox fanlight, in architraved opening. Sunk panelled aprons to windows to ground floor.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; 17-pane glazing to ground floor to corner elevation; 12-lying pane glazing to attic floor of Windsor Street elevation, corner elevation and right pavilion to Leopold Place elevation; 8-lying pane glazing to left pavilion to Leopold Place elevation; to Leopold Place elevation, plate glass to 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 18th and 19th bays to ground floor, to 6th to 16th (inclusive) bays to 1st floor and to 6th to 8th (inclusive) bays to 2nd floor; all glazing in timber sash and case windows. To roof to Leopold Place elevation, 7 rooflights to central section; flat-roofed timber dormer with plate glass haffits to 17th bay. Double pitched roof; piended ends to N end of Windsor Street section ; graded grey slate. To Leopold Place, left pavilion; to left, ashlar mutual ridge stack preceded by 3 linked individual octagonal flues, to right, rendered wallhead stack with droved dressings. To Leopold Place, central section; to outer left and right, rendered stacks with droved dressings to front and rear pitches; to centre, rendered ridge stack with droved dressings. To Leopold Place, right pavilion; to left, rendered wallhead stack preceded by 3 linked individual ashlar octagonal flues; to right, ashlar mutual ridge stack preceded by 3 linked individual octagonal flues. To Windsor Street elevation, ashlar mutual ridge stack preceded by 3 linked individual octagonal flues to left; ashlar wallhead stack flanked by linked individual octagonal flues (3 to front, 2 to rear); stacks predominantly corniced with circular cans.
RAILINGS: edging basement recess and platt, cast-iron railings with spear-head and pine cone finials, spear-headed dog bars and circle patterned top border.
INTERIORS: to 4 Windsor Street: to ground floor; to lobby, good plasterwork including to ceiling, altered niche to right, 2 pairs of pilasters to walls; shallow relief wall decoration, timber and glazed screen and door leading to inner hall, stone stairs with cast-iron balusters leading to basement; principal rooms to front of house subdivided but good plasterwork remains.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of the Calton A-Group.
Although the interiors may have undergone alteration, a significant proportion of the original features of 1-11 Leopold Place and 2-4 Windsor Street, such as plasterwork and chimneypieces, are likely to remain and this should be kept in mind when considering changes to the internal fabric.
The block comprising 1-11 Leopold Place and 2-4 Windsor Street forms part of Playfair's Eastern New Town (or Calton) scheme, and as such is an important example of the work of one of Scotland's leading early 19th century architects. Playfair was one of the major driving forces of the Greek Revival in Edinburgh at this time, and his public commissions such as the National Monument, the Royal Institution and the National Gallery (see separate listings) gave strength to Edinburgh's reputation as the Athens of the North. The Calton Scheme was one of his few domestic commissions, and the variety of designs, different for each street, demonstrates Playfair's expertise with the Grecian style and his characteristic punctilious attention to detail. The railings are important as their design features distinctive elements which Playfair repeated in large areas of the Calton scheme. The impressive curved Ionic quadrant at the E corner of Leopold Place works in conjunction with its counterpart on the opposite side of Windsor Street and the Roman Doric quadrant at the corner of Elm Row and Leopold Place to form one of the architectural set-pieces of Playfair's Calton scheme. This long classical range frames the Eastern exit and entry to the city via the then newly built London Road. Designed and built as high quality private housing with a mixture of flats and town houses, the majority of the block retains its original use.
The origins of the Eastern New Town, which was to occupy the east end of Calton Hill and lands to the north of it on the ground between Easter Road and Leith Walk, lie in a 'joint plan for building' which three principal feuars (Heriot's Hospital, Trinity Hospital and Mr Allan of Hillside) entered into in 1811. In 1812 a competition was advertised for plans for laying out the grounds in question. Thirty-two plans were received, displayed and reported on by a variety of people, including eight architects. Eventually, it was decided that none of the plans was suitable. However, it was a more general report by William Stark (who died shortly after submitting it) which caught the attention of the Commissioners and formed the basis of the final scheme. Stark's central argument stressed the importance of planning around the natural contours and features of the land rather than imposing formal, symmetrical street plans upon it. After several years of little or no progress, in 1818 the Commissioners finally selected William Henry Playfair, Stark's former pupil, to plan a scheme following his master's Picturesque ideals.
The resulting scheme, presented to the Commissioners in 1819, preserved the view of and from Calton Hill by the creation of a limited, triangular development of three single-sided terraces on the hill itself. These looked over a huge radial street pattern, centred on the gardens of Hillside Crescent, on the land to the north. The feuing of these lower lands started well, with Elm Row, Leopold Place, Windsor Street and the west side of Hillside Crescent being built fairly swiftly. However, demand for the feus faltered severely, due to the growing popularity of new properties being built to the west of the New Town. The fate of the Calton scheme was sealed in 1838, when it was decided that feuars should pay poor-rates to both Edinburgh and Leith. This virtually halted development for the next thirty years. The result of all these problems was that very little of Playfair's original scheme was ever built. When building resumed in the 1880s, some of Playfair's original street lines were adhered to, as was the case with Hillside Crescent, and in others such as Brunton Place, Brunswick Street, Hillside Street (originally to be a longer street called Hopeton Street), and Wellington Street (also curtailed). However, due to piecemeal residential, industrial and transport developments immediately to the north, it would have been impossible to further follow Playfair's original layout, even if this had been considered desirable.