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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: 14/12/1970


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

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 21119 69179
  • Coordinates321119, 669179


A J Balfour Paul, 1899. 2-storey, U-plan, Scots Renaissance style almshouses around central courtyard with elaborate over-door carving to central entrance, turrets in re-entrant angles, advanced finialled gabled entrances to wings, pedimented dormers, ridge stacks, and arched pavilions with leaded ogee roofs. Painted render with red sandstone dressings. Band course to entrance gables, eaves course. Raised window margins; dormers to 1st floor of wings with finialled triangular and segmental pediments. Timber-boarded front doors to side wings in stop-chamfered, roll-moulded architraves with prominent keystones and deep cornices. Regular fenestration.

COURTYARD ELEVATIONS: Slightly advanced 3-bay centre. Half-glazed, 2-leaf timber panelled doors to centre with leaded lights and flanking ionic pilasters supporting deep cornice; large segmental-pedimented tablet above with flanking scrolls, bearing inscription (see Notes). Tall windows breaking eaves with shaped finialled gables to bays flanking door. Slightly recessed flanking bays with timber boarded front doors in roll-moulded, key-blocked architraves with triangular pediments. Round turret to left re-entrant angle with weather vane; semi-octagonal turret to right; timber boarded front doors with circular lights and roll moulded architraves; lintel to left inscribed PAX INTRANTIBUS; lintel to right inscribed SALUS EXEUNTIBUS. Long crowstepped gabled wings advanced to each side, each with two advanced coped gables containing 2 doors at ground and paired windows at 1st floor. Regular fenestration to recessed sections; dormers at 1st floor.

N (REAR) ELEVATION: regular fenestration. 4-bay crowstepped central block; 2-leaf half-glazed timber panelled door with finialled pediment to centre; 2 timber boarded doors to outer bays. Slightly lower 2-bay flanking sections with central pedimented windows (probably former doors) at ground. Advanced 2-bay crowstepped gables to outer left and right.

E AND W (REAR) ELEVATIONS: irregularly fenestrated wings with scullery outshots and timber boarded back doors. Sections to N with crowstepped gabled outshots. Slightly lower sections to S with central swept-roof outshots flanked by pedimented dormers and large 2-window shaped slate-hung dormers. Lean-to, single-bay, outshots to outer S bays against garden wall.

6-, 8-, and 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Ashlar coped skews and skewputts. Rendered stacks with sandstone cornicing and tall red clay cans. Graded grey slate with terracotta ridge tiles. Cast-iron rainwater goods with decorative hoppers. Decorative cast-iron lamps by some front doors.

INTERIOR: access not possible 2003.

BALUSTRADE AND PAVILIONS: raised balustraded pavement around front courtyard with steps to central lawn opposite entrance doors and terminating in 2 pavilions. Square-plan pavilions with single arches to each elevation and pilastered piers to corners; string course at springing point; roll-moulded entablature; dropped keystones; leaded ogee roofs with finial.

GARDEN HOUSE: square-plan, rendered brick garden building to NW of site, with finialled pavilion roof and leaded casements.

BOUNDARY WALL AND GATEPIERS: squared, snecked sandstone rubble boundary wall around whole site with ashlar coping. Raised and recessed section to main entrance; rusticated red sandstone ashlar gatepiers with corniced caps. Timber side gates to garden with flanking ball finials and decorative bracket towards main building.

BIRDBATH: or fountain in centre of courtyard. Tiered double basin on baluster base; carved central pillar supporting upper basin which has projecting runnels for water to fall from; badly corroded stone statue of female figure at top to centre.

Statement of Special Interest

A very attractive group of almshouses occupying a prominent position on Spylaw Bank Road. They were built at the bequest of Sir William Fraser (1816-98), former Deputy Keeper of the Records of Scotland. He left #25000 to found the homes, which were to house poor persons of good character over the age of 55, with preference given to authors and artists. They are now administered by the Merchant Company. The tablet over the main door is inscribed BLESSED BE GOD FOR ALL HIS GIFTS ~ SIR WILLIAM FRASER K.C.B LL.D DEPARTING THIS LIFE ANNO DOMINI MDCCCXCVIII DEDICATED A GREAT PORTION OF HIS ESTATE TO THE ERECTION OF THIS HOUSE AND THE COMFORT OF ITS INDWELLERS.



ACADEMY ARCHITECTURE 1899, pp97 & 103. BUILDING NEWS, August 4 1899. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker, BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: EDINBURGH, p521.

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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