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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: A - see notes
  • Date Added: 16/12/1965


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

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 26296 74522
  • Coordinates326296, 674522


W H Playfair, designed 1820-1822; 1-3A Windsor Street designed 1825. Near-symmetrical classical range with 28-bay elevation to Leopold Place, 3-bay quadrant corner with 2-storey distyle in antis Ionic colonnade to W, 6-bay elevation to Windsor Street; 3-storey and basement (attic storey to Windsor Street, corner elevation and advanced pavilions; sub-basement level to right half of Leopold Place elevation). Polished ashlar; smooth V-chamfered rustication to ground floor to Leopold Place elevation; droved ashlar to basement (painted to some sections); 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 (blocking course only to central section to Leopold Place elevation). 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: 6-bay advanced pavilions to outer left and right. To 4th, 9th, 12th, 17th, 20th, and 25th bays from left to basement, timber-panelled (timber and glazed to 9th, 12th 25th and 28th bays; modern timber to 20th and 28th bays) doors in segmental-headed openings with 3-light fanlights. To ground floor, to 4th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 25th and 28th bays from left, steps and platts (mutual steps and platt to 11th and 12th bays and 17th and 18th bays; out of character surfacing to platt to 9th and 12th bays) overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door (2-leaf timber-panelled door to 20th and 25th bays) with letterbox fanlight with 5-oval-light glazing (plain plate glass to 16th bay). To advanced pavilions, corniced windows to first floor.

W (CORNER) ELEVATION: to ground floor, to centre bay, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to 2-leaf 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.

NW (WINDSOR STREET) ELEVATION: to basement, to 2nd and 5th bays from left, timber-panelled doors with 3-light letterbox fanlights in segmental-headed opening. To ground floor, to 3rd and 6th bays from left, steps and platts overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled doors 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; to Leopold Place elevation, plate glass to 7th, 8th, 10th, 13ht, 14th, 19th, 21st and 22nd bays to ground floor, 7th-22nd (inclusive) bays to 1st floor and 7th-14th (inclusive bays) to 2nd floor; 17-pane glazing to ground floor to corner elevation; 15-pane glazing to 1st floor to right pavilion to Leopold Place elevation; 12-lying pane glazing to attic floor of Windsor Street elevation, corner elevation and left pavilion to Leopold Place elevation; 8-lying pane glazing to attic floor to right pavilion to Leopold Place elevation; all glazing in timber sash and case windows. To central section of Leopold Place elevation, 6 rooflights left and centre; 2 internal dormers to right. Double pitched roof; piended ends to N end of Windsor Street section and to right of left pavilion; graded grey slate; stone skews. To Windsor Street elevation, ashlar wallhead stack flanked by linked individual octagonal flues (3 to front, 3 to rear). To left, to corner elevation, ashlar mutual ridge stack preceded by 3 linked individual octagonal flues. To Leopold Place, left pavilion; to left, ashlar mutual ridge stacks preceded by 3 linked individual octagonal flues; to right, ashlar wallhead stack preceded by 3 linked individual ashlar octagonal flues. To Leopold Place, central section; to outer left and right, rendered stacks front and rear pitches; to centre, rendered ridge stack. 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; all stacks 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.

INTERIOR: to 19 Leopold Place: to ground floor; to lobby, good plasterwork, corniced doorpiece, pilastered timber inner porch, pilastered timber and glazed screen with segmental fanlight; to former dining room (subdivided), good plasterwork. to 20 Leopold Place: to ground floor: to lobby, good plasterwork including to ceiling, pilastered timber and glazed screen with 6-oval light glazed; T-shaped inner hall with good plasterwork.

Statement of Special Interest

Part of the Calton A-Group.

The block comprising 2- 21 Leopold Place and 1-3 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 W 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. The block comprising 12-21 Leopold Place and 1 and 3 Windsor Street is important for its streetscape value, as an example of the work of one of Scotland's leading early 19th century architects, and as a significant element of the Eastern New Town scheme.

Designed and built as high quality private housing with town houses in the pavilions and flats in the central and curved sections, 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 late 1870s, 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.



OS Map, 1853, 1877. MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE FOR FEUING THE GROUNDS OF CALTON HILL 1811-1822, Edinburgh City Council Archives. W H Playfair, DRAWINGS, Edinburgh University Library, 1790-1857. Edinburgh City Archives, Dean of Guild: 23rd May 1883 (relating to alterations to 19 Leopold Place); 26th December 1947 (relating to alterations to 20 Leopold Terrace). A J Youngson, THE MAKING OF CLASSICAL EDINBURGH, (1966) pp148-156. I Lindsay, GEORGIAN EDINBURGH, (1973) pp54-55. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker, EDINBURGH, (1994), p447. H Colvin, DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS, (1995), p766. J Lowrey, THE URBAN DESIGN OF EDINBURGH'S CALTON HILL in THE NEW TOWN PHENOMENON ' ST ANDREWS STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF SCOTTISH DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN, (2000), pp1-12. RCAHMS Collections.

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