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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: 15/06/1965


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

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 24054 73906
  • Coordinates324054, 673906


Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, 1883'6 with later repairs and rennovation 2009. 4- and 5-storey with some attics; significant complex of 54 flats and separate former common hall (Woodbarn Hall), Renaissance Freestyle. Roughly rectangular plan set around central courtyard, in picturesque setting beside the Water of Leith. Coursed squared rubble with red sandstone dressings. Deep overhanging eaves; various crowstepped and shaped gables, some advanced. Large round arched pend to N with red sandstone dressings and red brick vault. Roughly regular fenestration, with some bipartite windows. Some rectangular dormers to attic with catslide roofs.

Predominantly small pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Pitched roof with some catslides; red clay tiles. Coped rubble gable end and ridge stacks, predominantly modern cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: characterised by a series of small flats accessed off common stairs. Large arched openings to landings with cast-iron railings incorporating thistle pattern to spikes. Stairs predominantly brick with curved handrails. Flats predominantly 1 or 2 rooms with small kitchens and bathrooms.

WOODBARN HALL: large detached rectangular plan hall with central tower. Moulded cill course at 1st floor. Prominent corbelled canted transomed and mullioned 4-light bays to S with tall conical tiled roofs. Roughly regular fenestration. TOWER: large tower to centre with prominent clock-face to S and E sides; corbelled crenellated parapet; arcaded timber louvers above with shaped leaded roof and cast-iron weathervane.

BOUNDARY WALLS: coursed random rubble with sandstone ashlar copes.

Statement of Special Interest

Well Court is a fine example of a picturesque composition, exploiting its prominent site on the Water of Leith. It forms a significant example of 19th century social housing, designed by a high profile architect, A G Sydney Mitchell. The building was commissioned by John R Findlay, the proprietor of the Scotsman newspaper, as social housing for artisans and tradesmen from the Dean Village. The flats were leased for affordable rents in return for the tenants respecting rules of temperance and attendance at Church on Sundays. The design had several other social measures, including the provision of a common hall for reading and recreation. A factor's house was also placed in the central courtyard. The building was an act of social benefaction on the part of Findlay, to help the occupants of the Dean Village after the large mills which had sustained the population began to move out of the area in the late 19th century. The building also had a significant function in improving the amenity of the area and took account of earlier traditional buildings in the area. Findlay's house at 3 Rothesay Terrace (see separate listing) overlooked the Dean Village, and Well Court.

Arthur George Sydney Mitchell was an important Scottish architect of the later 19th century. The work for Well Court and 3 Rothesay Terrace were amongst the earliest of his commissions in independent practice and some of the best examples of his major residential works. Mitchell met Findlay through his father who was an eminent public figure. Shortly afterwards (again possibly through the influence of his father) Mitchell was appointed the architect to the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Later, after taking on George Wilson as a partner the practice also became architects to the Board of Lunacy for Scotland. Mitchell was an excellent designer, equally comfortable with public and private works and a master at combining various architectural styles.

A programme of repair and renovation was completed in 2009 with the assistance of Edinburgh World Heritage.

List description revised as part of resurvey (2009).



Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan (1893-4); J G Bartholomew, Plan of Edinburgh and Leith, from Survey Atlas of Scotland, (1912); J Gifford, C McWilliam, D M Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p. 394; RCAHMS 81580 PO, Ink Plans, (1889).

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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Printed: 25/05/2016 23:35