W H Playfair, designed circa 1824. Classical terrace with distinctive projecting Ionic porches; 18-bay, 2-storey and basement principal elevation. Polished ashlar (painted to ground floor to No 11); droved ashlar to basement (painted to No 7); predominantly coursed rubble with droved margins to rear. Dividing band between basement and ground floor; dividing band between ground and 1st floor; continuous cantilevered balustraded balcony between ground and 1st floor; eaves band; eaves cornice; blocking course. To every 3rd bay (from left), boldly projecting porch (predominantly painted to Nos. 7, 11, and 13): 2 antae flanking architraved doorway; on deep stone plinth, 2 fluted Ionic columns (defaced capitals to No 7) to front, surmounted by balustraded entablature. Regular fenestration; sunk panelled aprons to ground floor; moulded architraves to ground and 1st floor (raised surrounds to 1st floor to No 7). 2 flat-roofed dormer windows to each house except No 17.
W (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: steps leading down to sunk basement areas from left; timber-panelled (with glazed sections to Nos. 9 and 13; out-of character timber door to No 15) door with three-light letterbox fanlight (plain letterbox fanlight to No. 9) to centre bay to basement; window to left and right bays (areas beneath platt blocked in by wall with single window to No 13 (bipartite window) and No 17 (tripartite window). To right bay to ground floor, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to 2-leaf, timber-panelled (to Nos. 9 and 11, timber-panelled and glazed; to No 13, out of character timber and glazed) door with letterbox fanlight (with glazing pattern of 5 oval lights to Nos. 9, 11. 15 and 17).
E (REAR) ELEVATION: 12-bay, 4-storey elevation; wallhead slightly higher from 5th to 10th bay from left. Eaves band. 2-storey extension with lean-to roof to No 13. Modern metal staircase to 3rd floor to No 15.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; to 1st floor to principal elevation, 6-lying-pane glazing to upper timber sash, 10-lying-pane glazing to lower timber sash; to 2nd floor to rear elevation, 12-lying pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; to 3rd floor to lower sections to rear, 3-pane glazing to upper sash, 6-pane glazing to lower sash. Flat roofs and glazed haffits to timber dormers. Double-pitch roof; graded grey slate; stone skews and skewputts. 2 corniced, rendered gablehead stacks to N, 2 corniced, rendered gablehead stacks to S; 5 corniced rendered mutual ridge stacks (2 octagonal corniced stone flues precede stack between Nos. 13 and 15) to front elevation; 5 corniced rendered mutual ridge stacks to rear elevation; stacks predominantly corniced and rendered with circular cans.
RAILINGS: edging basement recess and platts, cast-iron railings with spear-head finials, spear-headed dog bars and predominantly with Greek Key patterned top border.
INTERIORS: 7 Brunswick Street: to ground floor; to lobby, round-headed niche to right, pilastered and corniced timber and glazed doorpiece and screen leading to stair hall, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork; to former dining room, classical black slate chimneypiece, corniced and pilastered doorpieces, basket-arched recess, good plasterwork including ceiling rose; to rear room (N), corniced and pilastered doorpieces, good plasterwork; to 1st floor: to former drawing room, corniced doorpieces, good plasterwork including ceiling rose; to rear room (N), subdivided, basket-arched recess, good plasterwork; to stairs and stair hall, stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, cast-iron tray rest and wrought iron lamp bracket to 1st floor landing, oval cupola in sail-vaulted ceiling, good plasterwork to ceiling and ground floor. 11 Brunswick Street: to ground floor; to lobby, round-headed niche to right, tall round-arched opening leading to stair hall, flanked by Roman Doric columns in anta, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork; to former dining room, classical black slate chimneypiece, corniced and pilastered doorpiece, good plasterwork including ceiling rose; to rear room (N), corniced and pilastered doorpiece, good plasterwork; to 1st floor: to former drawing room, (partially subdivided), good plasterwork including square ceiling rose; to rear room (N), good plasterwork including square ceiling rose; to stairs and stair hall: stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, wrought iron lamp bracket to 1st floor landing, good plasterwork to ceiling, landings and ground floor, pilasters flanking round-arched opening leading to lobby to ground floor. 15 Brunswick Street: to ground floor; to lobby, round-headed niche to right, timber and glazed corniced and pilastered doorpiece, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork; to former dining room and room to rear (large slapping connects rooms), corniced doorpiece, good plasterwork including deep frieze below cornice and ceiling rose; to 1st floor: to former drawing room and room to rear (large slapping connects rooms), corniced doorpieces, good plasterwork including deep frieze below cornice and ceiling rose; to stairs and stair hall: stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, oval cupola, good plasterwork. No 17: to ground floor; to former dining room, good plasterwork, black slate chimneypiece; to 1st floor, to former drawing room, Ionic columned grey marble chimneypiece, good plasterwork; to stairs and stair hall, stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, oval cupola in compartmented sail-vaulted ceiling.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of the Calton A-Group.
Originally built as private townhouses, 7-17 Brunswick Street now has a mixture of uses as hotel, club, office or residential accommodation.
The block comprising 7-17 Brunswick 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 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 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.
Brunswick Street is an obvious example of the effects of the unpopularity of the scheme; Playfair designed the street as a long terrace of individual houses. However, only 6 of these houses, forming the central section, were actually built. The unfinished stonework to the left of the of No 17 bears testament to the abrupt cessation of the development.