Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
Abbey St Bathans
NT 77163 60894
377163, 660894


Late 18th century with later additions and alterations. Gothick style 2 storey with cellar and attic, circular-plan former hunting lodge with 8 bays of openings and single storey, T-plan wing to SE (linked to central block by later single storey lean-to corridor); separate single storey, near T-plan wing to NW with single storey and attic cottage forming right wing (The Retreat Cottage); screen wall linking rectangular-plan, vaulted block to NE. Predominantly painted harl; polished cream sandstone dressings. Part harl-pointed rubble whinstone to NW wing; painted margins; painted harl to cottage; sandstone dressings. Sandstone margins to pointed-arched openings (some square-headed openings to wings); projecting cills. Walled garden to SE with associated single storey outbuilding to S.

HOUSE, FROM NE (ENTRANCE): part-glazed timber panelled opening (former door?) at ground off-set to right of centre; pointed arched, Y-traceried fanlight; smaller window aligned at 1st floor. Regularly disposed single windows in remaining bays at ground; smaller single windows aligned at 1st floor; small box dormers regularly disposed above. Projecting porch centred in single storey screen wall recessed to left; 2-leaf timber panelled door; replacement opaque fanlight; Tudor-arched surround with architraved hoodmould. FROM SW (GARDEN): steps to 2-leaf glazed French doors centred at ground; Y-traceried fanlight; smaller window aligned at 1st floor. Regularly disposed single windows in remaining bays to left and right; smaller single windows aligned at 1st floor; small box dormers regularly disposed above. Single window off-set to left of centre in single storey corridor recessed to right; timber door in bay to outer right.

SE WING, NE (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: single timber door centred in single storey wing advanced to outer left; square-headed single windows in 2 bays to left; square-headed bipartite window in bay to right; square-headed single window in bay to outer right. SW (GARDEN) ELEVATION: T-plan. Pointed-arched single window in projecting central bay; pointed-arched single window in bay recessed to outer left; larger pointed-arched single openings in 2 bays recessed to outer right.

NW WING, SW (GARDEN) ELEVATION: T-plan. Pointed-arched single window in projecting central bay; timber door in bay recessed to outer left (boarded, pointed-arched fanlight); cottage recessed to outer right with 2-leaf boarded timber door centred at ground; plate glass fanlight; square-headed single window at ground in bay to outer right; square-headed bipartite windows at both floors in bay to outer left (attic light breaking eaves).

INTERIOR: circular block with central corridor running SE-NW forming semicircular sections either side. Rectangular-plan drawing room with apsidal ends; plain cornice; replacement fireplace; replacement dado panelling; large, semicircular cabinet built into S apse. Square-plan reception room to NE with irregularly-planned kitchen set in remaining portion of semicircle. Bowed, half-turn stair to 1st floor and attic; separate stone stair to cellar (set beneath SW semicircle). Deep, panelled reveals to timber panelled doors. Some interesting fireplaces. Unusual undulating ceilings throughout (most prominent on upper floors; not in ground floor reception rooms). SE wing converted to separate holiday residence; boarded timber panelling in drawing room (former byre); plain plaster cornice. NW wing with stalls in former stable block; boarded timber doors; open timber ceilings; vaulted kennel block (former granary?) to NE. Cottage not seen 1997.

Predominantly Y-tracery upper, 6- and 12-pane lower glazing (some blinded with painted imitations) in timber windows (some single panes within); 4-pane upper, 2-pane lower glazing in timber sash and case windows to NW wing cottage; some vented lower, Y-tracery uppers to stables; 18-pane timber sash and case windows to NE elevation SE wing; some modern windows at rear; skylights lining linking corridor. Graded grey slate conical roof to main block; grey slate roofs to flanking wings; corrugated-iron roof to rubble range in NW wing. Corniced, circular-plan sandstone stack centred above house; corniced sandstone ridge stack to NW wing; brick built ridge stack to cottage; corniced sandstone ridge stacks to SE wing; coped wallhead stack to NE; circular cans throughout. Some cast-iron rainwater goods.

WALLED GARDEN AND OUTBUILDING: irregular, near triangular-plan walled garden to SE. Random rubble walls enclosing site (lower wall (W) missing following flood mid 20th century); bowed end. OUTBUILDING: harl-pointed whinstone rubble; square plan. E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: door opening in bay to right; small single window off-set to left of centre. Grey slate pyramidal roof. INTERIOR: not seen 1997.

SUNDIAL: square-plan sandstone sundial dated 1800 (originally from Dumfriesshire) set to SW of house; embossed carving to upper facets; square-plan table; metal gnomon in place.

Statement of Special Interest

A most unusual, circular-plan house which has retained much of its original detailing. Built for the Earl of Wemyss (Francis Charteris), The Retreat is generally thought to have been his country seat - a hunting lodge with separate flanking wings providing stabling, kennels and staff quarters. Writing in the 1790s, Rev. John Sked noted that the house "...was built by his Lordship about 12 years ago, upon his estate at Blackerstone..." With the "...elegant simplicity of the architecture, the neatness and convenience of the different apartments, and the manner in which the grounds around it are laid out...", Sked concluded that the house was a "...truly delightful and romantic retreat." This it remains today, despite the loss of some original windows, the alteration of the NW wing to create a taller cottage (known as The Retreat Cottage) and the formation of a separate holiday residence in the SE wing. With its Gothick glazing, regularly disposed openings, corniced central stack and innovative plan, the house itself is particularly noteworthy. According to Lindsay, "...the plan of this block is most ingenious, for it achieves two rooms of reasonable shape on each floor, the drawing room, without doubt, being rather charming with its semicircular ends." Inside, the detailing is modest but much of it remains - the most unusual feature being the undulating ceilings, described by Lindsay as ?...curious, for, instead of being flat, they rise and fall like waves around each joist.? Although altered and no longer symmetrical, the flanking wings remain an inherent part of the design, creating an overall frontage of nearly 300ft. The Retreat is one of the most significant buildings in Abbey St Bathans parish, and indeed, within Scotland as a whole.



J Sked THE STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND (1791-1799) p6; Ordnance Survey map, 1857 (appears on); F H Groome ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND (1882) p2; I Lindsay "Selected Precedents: Circular Plans From Scotland" ARCHITECTS' JOURNAL July 29, 1931, p131-132.; P Cochrane ABBEY ST BATHANS p22; C A Strang BORDERS & BERWICK: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1994) p34; NMRS photographic records BW/1767, BW/486, BW/500, BW/488, BW/487, BW/490, BW/491, BW/493, BW/494; picture in The Riverside Cafe; information courtesy of current owner.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 23/05/2019 22:02