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.

27,29,31 KING STREET, INCLUDING RAILINGSLB19983

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
A
Date Added
26/05/1977
Supplementary Information Updated
27/07/2007
Local Authority
Aberdeen
Planning Authority
Aberdeen
Burgh
Aberdeen
NGR
NJ 94422 6436
Coordinates
394422, 806436

Description

John Smith and Archibald Simpson, begun 1818, with later additions, 1823-3 and 1840. 2-storey and basement, 12 bay Classical building comprising former Medico-Chirurgical Hall of 1818-20, County Records Office of 1822-3 and private house of 1840. Constructed as 3 separate buildings but forming visually coherent unit (see Notes). Central advanced pedimented section with asymmetrical flanking units, that to left with 7-bays, to right with 3 bays. Grey granite ashlar to street (E) elevation, rubble to rear. Some base and band courses, cill course, deep eaves cornice, blocking course, balustraded parapet to far left. Deep-set windows to ground, some with aprons, some segmental-arched to left.

Predominantly 12 and 15-pane timber sash and case windows. Grey slate, coped gable stacks.

RAILINGS: Cast iron decorative railings to front (E), including stair rail and gates.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: No 29; Archibald Simpson, 1818-20. Symmetrical 3-bay former Medico-Chirurgical Hall with giant tetrastyle Ionic portico and shallow steps. Flanking giant Doric pilasters. Central timber entrance door with simple moulded granite architrave.

No 27: John Smith, 1822-3. Asymmetrical, former County Record Offices, in 2 separate, but physically linked sections. Recessed 3 bays with basement linked by flat-roofed single storey entrance porch with 4-panel timber door, round-arched doorway and semicircular fanlight to balustraded 3-bay building. Advanced end bays with flanking pilasters. Central window to ground with consoled bracket above. Single storey arched opening to left.

No 31: circa 1840. Asymmetrical 3-bay townhouse with stairs oversailing basement to entrance at left. 4-panel timber entrance door with rectangular coloured glass fanlight above. Pair of piended dormers. Tall round arched stair window to rear.

INTERIOR: original room plans largely extant to Nos 27 and 31. 4-panel timber doors. No 27 with dog-leg stair in entrance hall, dentilled cornicing, simple fire surrounds to upper room. No 29 with decorative cast iron balustrades to staircases. Corinthian columns to hall. Barrel vaulted basement rooms. Nos 27 and 29 connected internally. No 31 with good decorative scheme. Ground floor converted to form small theatre. Arcaded hallway. Stained glass stair window. Geometric floor tiles at entrance hall. Some good decorative ceiling and cornice plasterwork to hall and drawing room. Some deep decorative skirting

Statement of Special Interest

Nos 27, 29 and 31 King Street form a crucial and important row at the beginning of King Street and are a critical part of the 19th century planned streetscape of Aberdeen. Despite three different architects and three different dates, the buildings form a coherent design and assume the appearance of one building with a central classical portico and two wings, and a separate building to the far left.

The Medico-Chirurgical Hall (No 29), with its dominant giant Ionic portico was the first building on this side of King Street and was the first important granite design by renowned architect Archibald Simpson. It is a good example of Greek Revival architecture and forms the crucial determiner of the subsequent surrounding architecture. In order to assure its dominance and importance in the streetscape, the feus for the land on either side of the building had a condition that they would be set back from the line of the Hall.

No 27 ( the former County Records Office) was built to a particularly inventive design as Smith created a structure in two distinct sections, one forming the apparent left wing to the nos 29 and 31.

Built as a private residence for the advocate and Lord Provost of Aberdeen, John Webster, No 31 King Street was added to the North side of the Medico-Chirurgical Hall in 1840. Although the building has had some internal alteration due to change of use, it still retains a good proportion of its original room plan and some very good decorative cornicing and plasterwork. From 1956-1968 it was used as a children's theatre.

The Medico-Chirurgical Society was founded in 1789 as the Aberdeen Medical Society by 12 doctors. Founded 'for their mutual improvement in prosecuting their studies by holding weekly meetings', the Society changed its name in 1811. The Hall was built to house the valuable collection of books that the members had accumulated.

For a further description on the development of King Street, see Notes for 7 and 9 King Street.

Archibald Simpson (1790-1847) and John Smith (1781-1852) were the primary architects involved in designing the expanding nineteenth century city of Aberdeen. Simpson, a native of Aberdeen, practised predominately in the North East of Scotland. He designed many of the important works in the city. Smith established himself in architectural practice in the city in 1804. He became the Master of Work in 1824 and designed many of Aberdeen's public buildings, showing an expertise in working with granite.

Part of B Group with 5 Castle Street, Nos 1-56 (inclusive nos) King Street and St Andrews Episcopal Cathedral.

No 31 King Street is linked externally to Aberdeen Arts Centre (see separate listing) by a 1st storey corridor.

Nos 29 and 31 were previously listed together as Category A. No 27 was previously listed at Category B.

27 and 29 are currently used as offices (2006).

References

Bibliography

John Wood, Plan of the Cities of Aberdeen 1828, NLS. 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1866-68). Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 1995 pf 898. Ranald MacInnes, An Aberdeen Guide 2000 pf147. John Smith and David Stevenson, Aberdeen in the Nineteenth Century 1988 p45-48. Cuthbert Graham, Archibald Simpson, 1978. www.med-chi.co.uk W.A.Brogden, Aberdeen, An Illustrated Guide 1998 p72. Historical notes on handout from the Arts Centre (2006).

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.

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