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- Date Added
- Local Authority
- Scottish Borders
- Planning Authority
- Scottish Borders
- NT 45786 44965
- 345786, 644965
1819; alterations 1852 (see Notes). Substantial 2-storey, attic and basement, 3-bay, gabled former coaching inn on gushet site with break-front road elevation and lower piend-roof wing with outshots on falling ground to SW. Coursed and squared dark whinstone with cream sandstone ashlar dressings. Long and short quoins. Regular fenestration with raised cills. Service court to N. Detached, single-story former stable to NW. Vehicular gateway with ashlar piers to E. Garden to S.
E (ROAD) ELEVATION: 3-bay; cill course; eaves course. Slightly advanced central bay with lintel course at ground; central tripartite window above surmounted by blocking course. N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: central doorway with 4-pane fanlight and mullioned sidelights. Blind window to 1st floor left. Single attic window to both N and S gables. S (GARDEN) ELEVATION: forestair at basement level rising to 1st floor with cast-iron railings; tall windows at 1st floor with decorative cast-iron balconies to left and centre bays.
SW WING: lower and narrower, 2-storey, 3-bay section of whinstone rubble with half-piended roof; entrance to 1st floor flat reached by later 20th century covered external stair addition to N elevation. Further single-storey piended section to far W with outshot entrance porch to NW angle.
STABLES COTTAGE: detached single-story and attic former stable block; random whinstone rubble with raised ashlar window dressings; irregular fenestration; 2 pitched dormers to courtyard elevation.
INTERIOR: vestibule with patterned floor tiling. Glazed partition screen leading to commodious entrance hall with polished flagstone floor. Stone staircase with cast-iron banisters, timber handrail; garland and swag plasterwork frieze. Rooms at attic level contain 4 timber panelled box-beds within eaves space. Large, multi-roomed cellar, some areas with stone wine bins.
Predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; some plate-glass. Slated jerkin roof with stone skews to main principal section. Broad gable-end stacks; tall, thin wallhead stacks to W side and W wing. Clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
BOUNDARY WALLS, GATES AND RAILINGS: coped rubble boundary walls to gushet site. Square-capped ashlar gatepiers to NE surmounted by lanterns; wrought-iron pedestrian gateway to left leading to decorative iron railings fronting E elevation. Further vehicle entrance to W wall.
Statement of Special Interest
Old Manorhead is a large and distinctive building, prominently located beside the Galashiels Road. Built in 1819 as the Torsonce Coaching Inn, it was converted to a commodious house in 1852. Its large windows, restrained detailing and contrasting dark whinstone and light sandstone masonry all add to its interest. Of particular note are the very rare survival of fitted timber panel box-beds including a continuous run of three within the eaves of one attic room.
The New Statistical Account of 1843 describes Torsonce Inn, located roughly half-way between Edinburgh and Selkirk, as being "much admired by travellers and perhaps unequalled by any country inn in Scotland". At a cost of L.2884, it was paid for by the subscription of 15 Heritors in the old counties of Edinburgh, Selkirk and Roxburgh, one of whom was Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford. Before the construction of the Edinburgh to Carlisle Road, the coach stops in the Parish were at Bankhouse (see separate listing) and Stagehall on the old coach road on the opposite side of the Galawater.
The first half of the 19th century saw a marked increase in road use and higher standards of associated accommodation were expected. The services offered at Torsonce included a change of horses, rooms with gas-lighting and piped water supplying washrooms, water-closets and stables. An internal ground-floor ceiling space conceals a round-arched opening facing the road inscribed 'LICENSED TO LET ROOMS AND REST HORSES'. This survival gives a clue to the original internal plan and exterior detailing of the inn in 1819.
The wing to the SW formerly comprised a double coach-house, saddle room, groom's apartment and gas-house and was latterly used as the domestic wing. It is now internally subdivided into two properties (Southwing Flat and Southwing Cottage). The detached former stable-block to the NW of the courtyard (now converted to a house) originally had 6 individual round-arched stalls and two loose boxes.
Torsonce ceased operating as an inn soon after the opening of the Waverly Railway Line in 1848. The 1851 census records Torsonce as 'not occupied at present as an inn in consequence of the opening of the railway which has taken traffic from the road'. The property was converted to a large villa in 1852 and renamed 'Mannerhead House' (later 'Manorhead'). The 1861 Census Records for Stow note the property had 26 rooms with 2 or more windows. It remained in residential use until the 1950s when it became the Manorhead Hotel guest house and was operating as a liscensed inn by the 1960s. The property was converted back to a house once more in 2001.
List description updated at resurvey (2009).
New Statistical Account, Vol I - Edinburghshire (1843) p429. Shown as Manorhead House on 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map (1856). R E Lawson, The Torsonce Inn, A History of the Manorhead Hotel, Stow (1985 - unpublished, copy held with Stow Parish Archive). Kitty Cruft, John Dunbar and Richard Fawcett, The Buildings of Scotland: Borders (2006), p.709. Further information courtesy of owner.
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Printed: 19/04/2019 08:22