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


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25527 73513
325527, 673513


Thomas Hamilton, 1843-5, John Burnet, 1908 (see Notes). 5-bay Early English gothic church with hall (formerly Dr Guthrie's School) at lower level (basement to Johnston Terrace, full-height to Victoria Terrace). Polished ashlar to Johnston Terrace, coursed sandstone to Upper Bow and Victoria Terrace. Pitch-roofed 5-bay nave; parapets to pitch-roofed 3-bay aisles (containing galleries) adjoining to N and S. Gabletted chamfered angle buttresses; slim finialled octagonal pinnacles to corners. Hoodmoulded pointed-arched windows.

N (JOHNSTON TERRACE) ELEVATION: 2-storey projecting pitch-roofed porch to left, angled to line of Upper Bow; studded 2-leaf timber boarded door with decorative cast-iron hinges in pointed-arched surround; paired lancets above; circular quatrefoil window in gable; circular window with finialled pointed hoodmould above blind arcade in re-entrant angle. Projecting 3-bay block to centre with circular windows with finialled pointed hoodmoulds above blind arcading to ground, lancets lighting galleries above. Single storey porch with parapet to right, skewed to line of Johnston Terrace; studded timber boarded door with decorative cast-iron hinges in pointed-arched surround with finialled pointed hoodmould; circular windows in wall above.

E (UPPER BOW) ELEVATION: advanced gabled centre bay with tall stepped triple lancets and small circular window above in gable; timber boarded door with small-pane glazed fanlight to ground, flanked by small windows (Church Officer's House). Small lancet lighting porch in recessed bay to right. 3 small windows (lighting stair) to recessed single bay to left.

S (JOHNSTON TERRACE) ELEVATION: advanced 3-bay block to centre: paired flat-headed windows separated by colonnettes with trefoils under pointed hoodmoulds to ground; circular window under finialled pointed hoodmoulds to 1st floor; lancets lighting galleries above. 2-storey flat-roofed single bay containing stair to right: studded timber boarded door with decorative cast-iron hinges in finialled pointed hoodmould; 2 small lancets above. Single bay to left: 2-storey round-arched recess containing 3-light flat-headed window to ground and 3-light pointed-arched window above; paired lancets to 2nd floor. Ornate pulpit with pinnacled canopy (see Notes).

INTERIOR: slim clustered cast-iron columns with stiff-leaf capitals support open-spandrelled timber arches; double hammerbeam roof with gilded pendant arches. Decorative carving to fronts of galleries to S, E and W. Original pews to rear and in S, E and W galleries; benches with horsehair seats and backs, probably 1908. Pinnacled and crocketed pulpit (see Notes).

Small-pane glazing and stained glass in geometric leaded frames. Grey slates. Stone skews.

RAILINGS: Decorative cast-iron railings set on ashlar coped low wall to basement areas to Johnston Terrace and Upper Bow.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building still in use as such. Originally Free St John's Church, built immediately after the Disruption of 1843. Dr Guthrie was the minister from 1843-73. Monument with bust of Thomas Guthrie, William Brodie, 1873. Hamilton's pulpit was sketched by Ruskin, who thought it an 'abomination.' Burnet's alterations of 1908 were to make the building more suitable for its new use as the Free Church Assembly Hall. The 1908 article in The Builder explains that the alterations are to make the building 'more suitable for assembly purposes,' creating division lobbies, widening passages and reconstructing the basement floor. The spaces under the N and S galleries were enclosed with glazed partitions, and the Moderator's Gallery (behind the pulpit) created.



Dean of Guild 21st December 1843. Appears on 1854 OS map. Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH (1885) pp 293 (ill) and 295. D O Hill calotype shows the building under construction. BUILDER 16th May 1908 (alterations, John Burnet, Glasgow). Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) p 168. Rock, Joe THOMAS HAMILTON (1984).

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.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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