Listed Building

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


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 94198 6385
394198, 806385


16th century origins but largely dating from the 17th century (see Notes). 1626, 2-storey and attic extension to SW. 1670, original house remodelled to form, with 1626 extension, a large, 4-storey, U-plan town house with near symmetrical 4-bay flat-roofed central section to SE with 5-stage square-plan stair tower at NE corner. Granite rubble with contrasting squared chamfered margins. Corbelled stair turrets with candle-snuffer roofs in re-entrant angles to SE. Early 19th century single storey piended porch in re-entrant angle to SE. Gabled dormers breaking eaves, one with carved Coat of Arms (see Notes).

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: Studded, timber moulded and corniced entrance door to S of square stair tower with carved decorative doorpiece with carved panels above, depicting grapes, swags and with Coat of Arms (see Notes).

Predominantly 12 and 18-pane timber sash and case windows. Some fixed multi-pane windows to turrets. Grey slate. Gable, wallhead and ridge coped stacks.

INTERIOR: outstanding decorative scheme with exceptional painted gallery ceiling and mainly 17th century room plan. Many 17th and 18th century l features. Barrel vaulted room at basement. Spiral staircases and shallow tread dog-leg entrance stair with timber balustrade. Excellent late 17th century deep-relief plaster carved ceilings in some rooms, each using a variety of motifs, including fleur-de-lys, thistles, roses and crowns. Some mid 18th century timber panelling. Large sandstone-lintelled fireplace supported by pair of pilasters to dining room. Corinthian-columned fire surround and overmantel. Large arched fireplace in kitchen. Small room with wall painting, dating from the 18th century and depicting classical landscape and figures (see Notes)

Earlier 17th century painted gallery ceiling constructed from tempera on board depicting The Life Of Christ in 10 panels (some now blank) and with prominent heraldic motif depicting the Five Sacred Wounds of Christ.

ARCHWAY: 1673. To W of house, situated within 20th century rubble wall. Moulded round archway with cornice above. Granite rubble.

Statement of Special Interest

Provost Skene's House is the oldest surviving house in Aberdeen and of the few remaining examples of early burgh architecture in the city. It has an exceptional interior with outstanding examples of 17th century plasterwork and a painted gallery with an unusual cycle of religious tempera paintings.

The first records of the house date back to 1545 and the vaulted basement is likely to be from this period. In 1622, this former 3-storey house was bought by Matthew Lumsden who added a 2-storey and attic gabled section to the SW. His Coat-of-Arms, dated 1626, is visible in one of the dormer gables. The house was then bought in 1669 by the wealthy merchant and later Provost of Aberdeen, George Skene of Rubislaw and he reconstructed the original house and built the square tower to the NW. The house was used by The Duke of Cumberland's troops in 1746 and was known for a time as 'Cumberland's House'. In 1732, the house was divided into two separate tenements, but was then brought together again in mid 19th century. Used subsequently as a lodging house (named Victoria Lodging House on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1866-9), it fell into disrepair. Many of the buildings surrounding it were demolished in the 1930s, but a public campaign saved Provost Skene's House and it was saved.

The painted gallery is important and unusual. Originally depicting The Life of Christ in 10 panels, the ceiling is by an unknown artist, although it does show Flemish and Germanic influences. Some of the armorial devices included in the paintings may be those of Matthew Lumsden and this suggests the ceiling was painted in his tenancy between 1622-44.

The smaller painted room depicts landscapes with figures, all done in a Classical style. This painting is of very good quality and can possibly be attributed to John Norie, one of a renowned Edinburgh family of painters and who was known to have spent some time in Aberdeen.

The archway, (former Item 139) was moved to here from Union Terrace Gardens in 1931.

Reference from previous List Description; Chapman and Riley p147.



Alexander Milne, A Plan of the City of Aberdeen 1789, NLS. 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1866-9. E P Dennison, D Ditchburn & M Lynch, Aberdeen Before 1800, 2002 p101. Ranald MacInnes, The Aberdeen Guide, 2000 pf76. Aberdeen City Council, Guide to Provost Skene's House (2004). W A Brogden, Aberdeen, An Illustrated Guide, 1998, p32-3. Edward Meldrum, 'Sir George Skene's House in the Guestrow, Aberdeen ' Its History and Architecture'. Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1958-9 p85-103.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 15/11/2018 02:48