Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25624 73409
325624, 673409


John Tailefer, mason and Robert Wilson, wright , 1541-44, with later alterations and additions (see Notes), including Richard Crichton, 1816 Rectangular-plan almshouse chapel (concealed behind frontage of 1816) with 5-stage square-plan tower and spire (1620-5),

N (COWGATE) ELEVATION: 2 projecting droved ashlar bays (that to left, containing committee room, wider), Richard Crichton, 1816-17; base course; paired lancets with flat-headed hoodmouldings to ground and 1st floors (round-arched to ground); eaves course; gabletted crenellations to parapet. Recessed centre bay with cast-iron railings and gate to 2-leaf timber panelled door with gothic panelling in chamfered round-arched surround; entablature with insciption panel (see Notes) and pedimented aedicule with pierced ball finial and scrolled supports containing heraldic panel with arms of donors, their initials, the crowned hammer of the Hammermen, and the date 1553. Paired round-arched windows in flat-headed hoodmould above.

TOWER AND SPIRE: coursed ashlar to N and top stage of tower; rubble to remainder; string courses separating stages; chamfered surrounds to louvred openings to bell chamber on each side of top stage (clock face to N; sundial on lintel of W window); chequer-set corbelling to crenellated parapet with 2 cannon-spouts to each face. Ogee-topped octagonal lead-covered spire with gilt globe finial and weathercock.

INTERIOR: 16th century entrance to chapel from vestibule: 3 uncarved shields on lintel; curved stone stairs with decorative cast-iron balusters and veneered handrail to left. Rectangular-plan barrel-vaulted chapel; shallow step between E end and nave; curved wrought-iron railing to chancel incorporating Hammermen's insignia (1725); 2 semicircular tiers of high-backed seats behind (William Eizat, 1725); back of lower tier painted with swagged chains bearing arms of trades forming Incorporation of Hammermen (Alexander Boswall). 3 windows to S: centre window contains 4 roundels of heraldic stained glass with Royal Arms of Scotland and those of Mary of Guise above, and the arms of MacQueen and MacQueen impaling Kerr below (see Notes). Arcaded panelling to E and N walls bearing gilded inscriptions detailing benefactions (most probably repainted 1813). Painted square panel on W wall dated ANNO 1624 with raised crowned hammer and inscription LORD BLES THE HAMMERMEN PATRONS OF THIS HOSPITAL.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building, still in use as such. Original foundation bequest by Michael Macquhan, or MacQueen (died 1537), to found a hospital or almshouse, supplemented by his wife, Janet Rhynd. The Confirmation Charter of 1547 provided for patronage to pass to the Incorporation of Hammermen after Janet Rhynd's death (1553). The original complex consisted of the chapel and accommodation for a chaplain and 7 bedesmen, described as the 'crosshouse' with a court or garden behind. The chapel was bought by the Protestant Institute in 1857, and used by the Medical Missionary Society, who built the Livingston Institute (Nos 17-39 Cowgate, separately listed), and the additions which screen the N elevation of the building (replacing earlier additions). The illustration of the front elevation in Grant (dated 1816) shows the doorway in its present form, but a dormered 2-storey and attic tenement with shops to ground on the same plane as the entrance. The 1816 Dean of Guild Plan shows the frontage brought forward, with the entrance to the committee room to the left, and a house with shop at ground floor to the right. The building is currently the headquarters of the Scottish Reformation Society. It was restored in 1993 by Simpson and Brown, Architects; further restoration is planned. The inscription over the door reads 'He that hath pity upon the poore lendeth unto the Lord and the Lord will recompence him that which he hath given, Pro. XIX vers XVII.' The carved armorial panel over the door was executed in 1615 by John Sawer, and moved to its present position in 1649, when the pediment was added. Small figures of a bedesman and a hammerman seem to have disappeared form the pedestals flanking the armorial panel (2000). The stained glass roundels are extremely important, being the only examples of pre-Reformation stained glass in Scotland still in situ. A fragment of the original ceiling, showing stars and thistles, painted in 1725 by Alexander Boswall 'with Skye colour with clouds and a sin (sic) gilded in the centre' is displayed on the S wall. The tomb slab of Janet Rynd, with coat of arms and inscribed border, can be seen at SE. The bell was made by Michael Burgerhuys of Middleburg, Holland; its inscription reads MICHAEL BURGERHUYS ME FECIT ANNO 1632 SOLI DEO GLORI GOD BLESS THE HAMMERMEN PATRONS OF THIS CHAPEL.



Appears on Gordon of Rothiemay's 1647 plan of Edinburgh. Dean of Guild 1st March 1816. Wilson MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH (1891) pp 251-155. Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH vol II pp261-5, ills pp 264 & 5. BOEC vol VIII pp 1-78. RCAHMS INVENTORY No 6 pp 41-44. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) pp 163-166.

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. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. 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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