Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

SETON CASTLE (FORMERLY KNOWN AS SETON HOUSE) WITH RETAINING TERRACE AND WALLSLB19080

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
A
Date Added
05/02/1971
Local Authority
East Lothian
Planning Authority
East Lothian
Parish
Tranent
NGR
NT 41734 75084
Coordinates
341734, 675084

Description

Robert Adam, 1789-91; Robert Adam and Thomas Russell, mansions. Castellated 3-storey and basement country house built on site of earlier palace; rectangular-poan with chamfered corners, circular and square towers and bowed tower-bay; largely symmetrical in plan and elevation.

2 2-storey U-plan service pavilions adjoined to house with quadrant screen walls at N mirrored at S to enclose courtyard. Varicoloured sandstone, squared and snecked, grey predominating at, ashlar dressings; evidence of former harling. Cill and band courses; corbelled parapet.

S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: centre bay advanced; steps to segmentally arched tripartite doorway; pilasters dividing and decorative fanlight; 2-leaf fanlight; 2-leaf panelled doors. Quasi-Venetian window above at 1st floor with round-arched side lights. Tripartite of round-arched lights at 2nd floor. Crowstepped gablehead above parapet with oculus. Square towers advanced and flanking entrance bay with arrow-slit windows to S elevation to principal and 2nd floor, cross-shaped at 1st; screen walls adjoined at ground (see below). Window to each floor in flanking bays; circular towers with arrow-slit windows flanking chamfered corner bays.

N ELEVATION: basement exposed by falling ground; full-height bowed tower-bay at centre with 3 windows to each floor, round arched above basement and tripartite to centre (blind lights flanking 2nd floor window); door to basement at centre. Window to each floor flanking bays with doors inserted in bay to right of centre at basement and principle floor with painted timber forestair and small-pane fanlight to upper floor; 2-leaf panelled doors. Circular towers by chamfered corner bays, with arrow-slit windows to each floor.

E AND W ELEVATIONS: 3-bay, corner bays chamfered and centre of each bay recessed. Basement door at centre, Venetian windows to principal, 1st and 2nd floors, shorter and with blinded centre lights to 1st and 2nd. Corner bays with window to each floor, narrow and in round arched panels at 1st and 2nd floor, round-arched at 2nd.

E AND W SERVICE PAVILIONS: U-plan, opening to E and W respectively with square corner towers breaking eaves at outer angles, and lower elevations to service courts. Various blinded windows and arrow-slits. Kitchens in W pavilion, stables in E. Elevations to principal courtyard and Venetian windows at centre at ground, flanked by tower-pilasters and screen walls abutting to sides. S elevations each 3-bay with full-height round-arched panels recessed at centre, narrow windows at ground, blinded tripartite round-arched windows to panels at 1st floor, 4-pane in flanking bays.

N elevations each 3-bay with full-height round-arched panels to each bay; narrow windows at ground and 4-pane 1st floor windows. Round arched panels to N and S service court elevations of W pavilion, with 2-leaf garage doors inserted. Segmental carriage archways with 2-leaf doors to 1 side of stable court; doors to stables and hayloft windows.

SCREEN WALLS: enclosing principal courtyard. Quadrant screens to 4 corners, adjoined to house and with curtain walls to service pavilions. Sections of corbelled parapet and string course. Wide round arched gateway in convex quadrants to S, flanked by square towers with recessed panels. Blind arrow slits to quadrants. S quadrants with loggias to courtyard, each with round arched bays.

Small-pane glazing patterns to sash and case windows. Ashlar coped stacks. grey slates.

INTERIOR: restrained classical decoration, some alterations. 3 main rooms to principal floor, enfiladed. Cantilevered stair to hall with trellis-work wrought-iron balustrade. Drawing Room with bowed bay, fine classical alabaster chimneypiece with blue tile slip; ornate fender. Dining Room with 4 curved doors, fine classical chimneypiece (brought from Kirkcudbrightshire, by Whytock and Reid). Classical plaster friezes. Decoratrive finger plates and brass curtain poles. Barrel-vaulted room to E side of basement.

PAVILIONS: boarded stalls to E pavilion with boarded and railed travises, and loose box; distemper walls. Kitchen pavilion altered, Carron Company kitchen range retained.

GARDEN ORNAMENT: gadrooned stone basin in principal courtyard.

RETAINING AND TERRACE WALLS: probably pre-17th century, sandstone rubble walls to policies of Seton House, including boundary of orchard to N, and continuing around Seton Gollegiate Church with corner towers, some harl-pointing; SW corner named Orchard Corner, with corbelled stone, by roadside. Sizeable rubble buttresses at intervals. Rubble coped terrace wall by dene to N of house, and bridge over dene to NW.

Statement of Special Interest

The earlier palace was pulled down in 1790 to make way for the Adam mansion: a view by Alexander Keirincx illustrates its form. The design was one of fourteen in this tyle by Adam, and can be grouped closely with those at Pitfour in Perthshire, Dalquharran in Ayrshire, Mauldside in Lanarkshire (destroyed), Airthey, Stirlingshire, and Stobs, Roxburghshire. The castle effect is achieved by the massing of the various elements, in a manner used earlier by Sir John Vanbrugh at Seaton Delaval, while the plan and interior follow classical precepts. Seton was commissioend by Alexander Mackenzie, an Edinburgh lawyer, but soon after passed into the estate of the Earl of Wemyss. The former orchard to the north was laid out in 1807. Several neighbouring properties, formerly on the Seton Estate, are included in the current listings, including the Collegiate Church, Seton Farmhouse and Seton Mill's kiln and granary.

The building was called Seton Castle when built and known as such until the 1920s when the name was changed to Seton House. Reinstated to its former name Seton Castle in 2012.

References

Bibliography

Soane Museum Drawings; copies at NMRS, ELD129/1-9.

SRO. Contract of 1789, ex GD18/4965.

2 views by John Clerk of Eldin, in possession of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, copies at NMRS.

COUNTRY LIFE, 23 and 30 May 1968, John Fleming.

A Rowan DESIGNS FOR CASTLES AND COUNTRTY VILLAS BY R AND J ADAM (1985), plate 56.

Royal Society of Arts JOURNAL, cxxii, September 1974, Rowan, 'The Adam Castle Style'.

C McWilliam LOTHIAN (1878) pp428-31.

P McNeill TRANENT AND ITS SURROUNDINGS (1883) p190.

Green EAST LOTHIAN (1907).

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Printed: 16/11/2018 11:31