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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: 14/07/1966


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

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 25175 72150
  • Coordinates325175, 672150


Late 16th century with 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century additions and alterations. Originally 3-storey with attic Z-plan tower-house; main E-W axis extended by 2 bays to E in 1605. Pink sandstone rubble with extensive repointing long and short quoins; steeply pitched crowstepped gables; single windows; pedimented and finialled dormerheads.

S FORMER ENTRANCE elevation: advanced block to outer left with 2 single windows at 1st and 2nd floors; windows in bay to right return; blocked architraved doorway; decorative corbel to circular section stairtower at re-entrant angle; conical roof. Windows in 2 bays to right of re-entrant angle; segmental-arched doorway in 2nd bay; modern iron grille with glass door behind. Windows in advanced bays to outer right; decorative ashlar consoles to stone balcony with iron balustrade to tall windows at 1st floor; semi-circular pediments with thistle finials and monogram/date panels. Pedimented attic dormer windows breaking eaves above.

E ELEVATION: doorway at ground floor; corridor (1966) linking new school buildings to Bruntsfield House at 1st floor; pediment to former window above; window offset to left in gablehead.

W ELEVATION: advanced block to outer right; single windows in central bay, except at ground; windows at ground and 2nd floors to left. 2 single windows to gable end return to left. Recessed gable end to outer left; steps up to central doorway at 1st (principal) floor; modern small-pane glazed door and small-pane fanlight; windows offset to right at 2nd floor and attic.

N ELEVATION: irregularly disposed single windows at ground and attic floors to block to outer right. Advanced gabled block; windows at 1st, 2nd, and attic floors; blank return to left; doorway at ground to right return; windows above. Windows at ground and 1st floors in bay to right of advanced block; semi-circular stairtower corbelled out at 1st and 2nd floors, and corbelled tosquare at attic. Windows in remaining 2 bays to outer right. Small-pane sash and case windows; 2 large plate glass windows at 1st floor to outer right to S. Grey slates to roof of 1605 extension; green slates to remaining roofs; corniced wallhead stacks. INTERIOR: flagstones; groin-vaulted former kitchen (1605 addition); segmental-arched kitchen fireplace; decorative plasterwork, coffered ceiling, lugged and architraved door surrounds, fluted pilasters with Ionic Capitals, and fine late 18th century marble fireplace to former hall (1605 addition) 2 similar fireplaces to 1st floor rooms of main house, including timber panelled room.

BOUNDARY WALLS GATEPIERS AND GATEWAYS: high coped rubble boundary walls to Warrender Park Road and Whitehouse Loan and also along either side of approach from Whitehouse Loan; pair of squared rubble gatepiers with pyramidal caps to Whitehouse Loan; pair of ashlar gatepiers with pyramidal caps to Whitehouse Loan; new gatepiers to Warrender Park Road (entrance to Primary School). Pedimented round-arched roll-moulded gateway with studded timber gates and wrought-iron hinges to Whitehouse Loan. Pedestrian gateway through slapping flanking to S; round-arched roll-moulded gateway at E end of approach from Whitehouse Loan.

Statement of Special Interest

Bruntsfield House now forms the administrative and music teaching block of James Gillespie's High School. The 1960s schoolbuildings are not included in the listing. The name Bruntsfield is believed to derive from the owner of the lands in the late 14th century, one Richard Broune, Sergeant of the Burgh Muir. In the late 14th century the lands passed into the de Lawdre (Lauder) family. Their house was destroyed by Protector Somerset in 1544 and later replaced by the present Z-plan house. Sir Alexander Lauder sold the estate in 1603 to John Fairlie, who built the E addition in 1605. Sir George Warrender purchased the house in 1695, and his family continued to live there until 1901, when it passed to trustees. In 1935 the City of Edinburgh Corporation acquired the property, but it was not until after the Second World War that the Preparatory Department of James Gillespie High School moved to the site. In 1953 the attics were badly fire damaged and in 1966 Bruntsfield House was incorporated into the new James Gillespie's High School buildings by Rowand Anderson, Kininmonth and Paul. A number of Victorian additions, including a porch and a large wing to NE were demolished during the conversion. An ice house and stable block were also removed.



John Small Castles and Mansions of the LOthians Vol 1 (1883), pages not numbered; D Macgibbon & T Ross Castlehead and Domestic Architecture of Scotland Vol 5 (1887-92), pp237-242; F H Groome Ordance Gazeteer (1892), p480; The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club Vol X "The estate of Bruntsfield" (1918), pp17-35; RCAHMS Edinburgh Inventory (1951), pp233-4; N Tranter The Fortified House in Scotland Vol 1 (1962) pp62-63; C J Smith Historic South Edinburgh (1978), pp49-54; M Cant Marchmont in Edinburgh (1984), pp75-82; Gifford et al. Edinburgh (1984), pp496-497.

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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