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
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26291 74396
326291, 674396


James Gillespie Graham, 1837-39, tower 1851; flanking gallery stair halls, David Robertson, 1885. T-plan gothic church; 3-stage square-plan entrance tower to centre of N elevation with set-back buttresses, string courses dividing stages, single window at second stage, tripartite louvred openings to belfry, machicholated, crenellated parapet with tall corner pinnacles; gallery stair halls flanking tower; basement floor below street level to S section. Coursed polished ashlar (stugged ashlar to transepts and S elevation; some rubble to basement). Dividing band between basement and ground floor; eaves cornice and parapet; cross-finialled gables. Hoodmoulded, recessed lancet windows in chamfered surrounds.

N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: stone steps up to studded gothic timber-panelled and glazed door at base of tower, set in hoodmoulded surround with paired colonnettes and archivolts; raking finialled stringcourse above, flanked right and left by single lancets. Flanking tower left and right, gallery stair halls; smaller door flanked by single lancets; sexfoil roundels to nepus gable above.

E ELEVATION: advanced transept gable to left; triple lancet window; trefoil roundel above; flat-topped bipartite window of paired lancet lights to basement. Recessed section to centre; 2 windows to ground floor; arched-surround opening (blocked) to basement. Stair hall gable to left; single window with extended cill course; 2 windows below.

S ELEVATION: slightly advanced chancel gable to centre with triple lancet window, trefoil roundel above; 2 windows to basement, flanked to outer left and right by trabeated doorways. Transepts flanking to left and right with central single window; flat-topped window of 3 lancet-lights to basement.

W ELEVATION: stair hall gable to left; single window with extended cill course; 2 windows below. Recessed section to centre; 2 windows to ground floor; Tudor-arched doorway to basement, flanked to left by bipartite window, single window to right. Advanced transept gable to right; triple lancet window; trefoil roundel above; flat-topped bipartite window of paired lancet lights to basement.

Stained glass: triple window to chancel depicts the Life of Christ; erected 1886 but with WW1 memorial inserted. Triple window to E transept depicts St John (centre), the Good Shepherd (1928) and St Ninian. Triple window to W transept depicts St Mathew, St Mark and St Luke. Single windows to transept feature geometric design. Remaining windows predominantly glazed with diamond quarries. Pitched roof; graded grey slates.

INTERIOR: entering at main N door, modern glazed screen forms vestibule. Opposite, high-relief tablet , John Hutchinson, 1871, to the memory of Dr William Glover. To left and right, passageways leading to quarter-turn scale-and-platt gallery stairs. Arcaded gallery supported by cast iron pillars; carved gothic wooden parapet; organ to rear. Plain wooden pews to nave and transepts. Dais extending from very shallow chancel; gothic panelling behind; matching pulpit, chairs, lectern, communion table and organ console (see Notes). Plain painted walls; cavetto ceiling cornice; cusped gothic ceiling rose to centre. Basement (see Notes) includes several small ancillary rooms and hall. Hall has raised stage at E end with retiring room beyond; to ceiling, consoled beams intersecting to form corniced caissons.

RETAINING WALLS, GATEPIERS AND RAILINGS: random rubble walls with saddleback coping to E, SE, S and W boundary; at W end, terminates in round tapered pier of squared rubble. Also at SW corner, pair of pink ashlar gatepiers with pyramidal coping stones. Ashlar dwarf wall, surmounted by ornate spear-head finalled cast iron railings, to N and NE boundary; 3 matching gates to N with flanking wrought iron lamp standards. To right of church, along N boundary, circular design railings with spearhead finals, some sections original.

CHURCH OFFICER'S COTTAGE: William Constable, 1893. Single storey and attic L-plan asymmetrical barge-boarded cottage with swept roof, broad bracketed eaves and king-posts to gables and dormers. Red brick (English bond) with red sandstone dressings (grey rubble to basement) Band course (painted grey) between ground floor and basement. Long and short quoins; tabbed surrounds to openings.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: advanced piend-roofed bay to left with dormer to apex of roof. 2-bay recessed section to right with stone steps to modern door with letterbox fanlight; dormer to roof above.

N (REAR) ELEVATION: single dormer-headed window breaking eaves to centre.

GLAZING etc: 6-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Graded grey slate to roof; terracotta ridge tiles and finials to dormerheads. Corniced, rendered stacks with circular cans.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such.

Greenside Parish Church is interesting due to Gillespie Graham's use of a T-plan and the lancet style; this is not typical of his earlier church architecture. The church is also very important in the context of Playfair's Calton scheme, contributing to and continuing its Picturesque aims by terminating the view down Royal Terrace with a scene reminiscent of a rural parish church surrounded by trees.

There is also a historical link to the eminent engineer Robert Stevenson, his three sons, and his famous grandson Robert Louis Stevenson. Robert Stevenson lived locally, at No 1 Baxter's Place (see separate Listing) in the first half on the 19th century, and was an elder of Greenside Parish Church. His sons founded a chapel for the parish poor in his memory at Lower Greenside (now demolished). This is commemorated in a plaque inside the church. Poet and novelist R.L. Stevenson attended the church as a boy, and referred to it as 'the Church on the Hill' in his writings.

Greenside Parish Church (Church of Scotland) is a daughter church of St Cuthbert's in the West End. The establishment of a new parish church for the growing number of inhabitants of Playfair's Calton scheme appears to have been formally proposed in 1836, and by May of 1837 plans by James Gillespie Graham had been lodged with the Dean of Guild. The church was to be a simple T-plan structure with transeptal galleries, access to which was gained via stair halls flanking the nave. There was some delay before the foundation stone was laid in April 1838, possibly due to fundraising difficulties. The church was principally funded by voluntary contributions, a grant from the city magistrates, and also funding from the Council as trustees for Dr Bell's School, which was to occupy the substantial basement of the building. The church opened for worship for the first time on 6th October 1839, but the building itself was not yet finished; a collection was taken for the furnishing of uncompleted parts and only the first stage of the tower had been built. It was covered with a temporary roof and was to remain in this state until 1851 when a Committee of Subscribers sought permission to commission the completion of the tower to Gillespie Graham's original design. There was considerable opposition to the design of the tower, and at one point an alternative scheme was put forward, but eventually the original Gillespie Graham plan was accepted.

In 1885, the church was subject to extensive remodelling by David Robertson. The transeptal galleries were removed and their stair-halls extended towards the tower and incorporated into the main body of the church. The galleries were replaced by the present gallery and the stair halls flanking the tower added to provide access. Robertson also recast the furniture and re-glazed the church in cathedral glass. At the same time an organ was installed by Harrison and Harrison of Durham. It was rebuilt in 1933 by Ingram and Co.

In 1890, the basement, no longer in use as a school, was altered to form a meeting hall. A lobby, cloakrooms, main hall, platform and retiring room were formed. The hung ceiling in the hall was removed and the ceiling raised.



O.S. MAP 1852, 1877, 1896. MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE FOR FEUING THE GROUNDS OF CALTON HILL 1811-1822 Edinburgh City Council Archives. PETITIONS TO THE DEAN OF GUILD 1885, 1893, Edinburgh City Archives. A.J. Youngson THE MAKING OF CLASSICAL EDINBURGH (1966) pp135-148. I. G. Lindsay GEORGIAN EDINBURGH (1973) pp54-55. N Taverner THE CHURCH ON THE HILL (1989). Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1994) pp443-444. H Colvin DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS (1995). INFORMATION LEAFLET published by Greenside Parish Church. RCAHMS Inventory and historical notes.

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.

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Printed: 24/04/2019 09:40