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


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Date Added
Local Authority
East Lothian
Planning Authority
East Lothian
Cockenzie And Portseton
NT 39976 75672
339976, 675672


Circa 1680, alterations and additions in early 18th century (S front), 1845 and 1902 (N front) largely gutted and renovated 1980s/1990s. Imposing long house in simple classical, 2-storey plus basement and attic, 9-bay; N front altered and irregular; small E wing; "Great Custom" adjoining to W, forming courtyard with N front of House. Grey harled with chamfered sandstone dressings, part of N elevation (1845) in squared and snecked rubble with raised margins.

S ELEVATION: symmetrical 9-bay. Central doorway (early 1800s) with architrave scale and platt staircase, with Roman Doric pilasters, frieze and cornice, door modern glazed with tripartite fanlight; flanked by 8 windows (4 to each side), 8 small windows to basement,

9 windows to 1st floor, 3 small piended dormers in roofslope.

N ELEVATION: altered and undistinguished. W section (1845) advanced, 3-storey, regular 4-bay, with door and 3 windows to ground, 4 windows to 1st and 2nd floors, NE corner rounded and corbelled to eaves. Mid section (1902) advanced, 3-storey, irregular, with 3 windows to ground, 2 windows to 1st and 1 canted, tripartite oriel window to 2nd floor;

2 stair windows in eastmost bay; door and small window to ground floor in E return, 1 window to 1st floor. Eastmost bay (original) with

1 window to ground floor. Single canted dormer in roofslope to W.

E WING: 4-bay, originally single storey, 1st storey added later above

2 westmost bays. S elevation with door and 3 windows to ground floor, 2 windows to 1st. N elevation with single window in 1st floor to W, door to W in ground floor flanked to E by 2 windows and rounded outshot in eastmost bay with single window. Links to E with new lean-to block (1990s) incorporating original gateway in garden wall as large picture window.

INTERIOR: much damaged in 1970s, and later altered. Retains some original roll-moulded fireplaces, also late 18th century chimneypieces with applied ornament.

Windows originally casement, now generally timber sash and case, 12-pane. On S front, 3-light windows to basement, 9-pane dormers. Roofs piended (though E wing has 1 skewed gable) and slightly bell-cast in graded grey Scotch slate; 2 stacks symmetrical on main ridge, vestigial thackstanes, harled with plain cope and 7 plain cans each; also 1 small shouldered ashlar stack to 1845 extension (N front), and short harled stack on E wing.

"GREAT CUSTOM": origins predating Cockenzie House, to which it links on W side at right angles. Latterly derelict; gutted by fire in 1970s, rebuilt 1990s losing much of original character. 3-storey, gabled, harled rubble with contrasting margins, a few in original stone.

W elevation essentially 8-bay and irregular, northmost bay presents original crowstepped gable with 1 window aligned on each floor; otherwise windows are aligned in each bay, including 7 catslide dormers breaking eaves, interspersed by modern front door and large modern glazed extension to SW corner. E elevation forms courtyard with Cockenzie House, much altered and irregular, incorporating 2 original arched openings at ground floor and 4 catslide dormers breaking eaves at 2nd floor. S elevation regular 3-bay, 3 windows to each floor, louvred oculus in gablehead, door and catslide dormer in E angle of return.

Windows modern timber small-paned, mostly in sash and case style. Roof in modern pantiles, skews. 3 gable stacks, non-functional, only that on NW gable in original rubble.

GATES: late 18th century? S Gates (Edinburgh Road) with piers in square section ashlar with cornice and flat cap, flanked by pedestrian gates and convex quadrant screen walls in rubble with ashlar cope. Leads into garden which forms an axially-planned forecourt to house. N Gates to courtyard in rubble with stepped cap.

WALLS: extensive and unusual walls to garden and courtyard generally

7 ft high, altered. Partly in variegated sandstone and whinstone rubble, but including varying decorative layer in black lava fragments (tufa), which form upper half and cope of wall along most of W and S lengths. Internal garden face includes remains of decorative seashell patterns. Low courtyard walls with cope in decorative "worm-eaten" limestone blocks.

GARDEN FEATURES: late 18th century? 2 2-storey round gazebos in rubble, conical slate roofs, currently under repair. Vaulted Gothic grotto ("Hecla") in volcanic lava fragments.

Statement of Special Interest

Cockenzie House was built by the Winton Estate for the manager of their harbour and saltpans. The Estate was forfeited after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and passed to the York Building company. The Cadells of Haddington purchased the property in the mid-18th century. In the 1970s the House fell into disuse and disrepair and many features and furnishings were removed or destroyed.

The Great Custom, also known locally as the Hanseatic Barn, was a large harbour warehouse, occasionally accommodating unlikely "goods" such as the Free Church Congregation when they were evicted from the Parish Church in the 1870s. It fell into disrepair and was gutted by fire and almost destroyed in the 1980s. Much of its character and all its internal construction was thus lost, but the earliest list description reads "... 2-storey rubble-built, broad harled gable... (to S)... with scroll skews and loft dovecot, remainder badly-weathered rubble with pantiled roof, crowstepped ( NW end...). Formerly had pend through ground floor. Upper floor 2-aisle plan with massive square timber columns bearing longtitudinal beam and kingpost roof. Photographs survive.

The decorative lava in the walls and garden features is generally reputed to have been imported from Iceland. One alternative local view is that it came from Italy, being used as ballast in the salt-fish trade, another that it is in fact clinker waste from local metal works!

The whole building complex has now been converted into a nursing home.



C McWilliam, LOTHIAN, 1976, p139; G Bogie, COCKENZIE - A HAVEN FOR THE JOHNSTONS, 1989; R Turner, 100 YEARS NEW - COCKENZIE AND PORT SETON, 1989, p20-25; RCAHMS-photographs.

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 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.

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 and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but 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. 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 advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 18/04/2019 18:15