Alexander Laing, 1776-7. 2-storey and basement square-plan, 3-bay classical archery hall for Royal Company of Archers; substantial 2-bay extension to S by A F Balfour Paul for Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, 1900 forming rectangular plan; single-storey flat-roofed glass and ashlar extension to N linked to archery butts to rear by LDN Architects, 2011. Set back from street with paved courtyard to front of building with low coped boundary wall with cast-iron railings and lamp standards; formal garden ground and archery butts to rear. Smooth sandstone ashlar, coursed rubble to rear; stone cills; band courses, corniced eaves course; splayed platt steps rising to slightly advanced rusticated and corniced doorpiece (part of 1900 alterations) to right surmounted by prominent carved armorial stone panel depicting archers with flanking consoles and scrolled pediment. Large Venetian window at 1st floor to left. Octagonal-plan domed lantern with flagpole slightly off centre at roof level.
S (SIDE) ELEVATION: variously 3 , 4- and 5 stories; door to centre. 3-storey flat roofed advanced section to right.
W (REAR/GARDEN GREEN) ELEVATION: 5 regular bays (far right hand bay blank).
Panelled wooden door; predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows (larger windows to upper floor). Piended roof; grey slate; corniced ashlar stacks to wall heads and rear roof.
INTERIOR: (seen 2013). Timber panelled 18th century entrance hall leading to early 20th 'Staircase Hall' to S of plan including faux-marble ionic columns framing Venetian window. Staircase Hall leading to early 18th century-style interior scheme designed by A F Balfour Paul, including 'Dining Room' and 18th century main 'Hall'. Main Hall with panelled dado to minstrel gallery and prominent coved and decorative plaster ceiling. 2011 glazed extension providing wheelchair access through former window opening to N extension and accessing lift.
BOUNDARY WALLS AND RAILINGS: low coped ashlar boundary wall with decorative cast-iron railings lining street and basement area; pair of cast-iron lamp standards in early 19th century style flanking main entrance. Tall boundary wall to S of courtyard ground. Boundary walls enclosing garden area and butts to rear.
Statement of Special Interest
Archers' Hall is the headquarters of the Royal Company of Archers, founded in 1676 and it is an outstanding example of one of Scotland's earliest purpose-built sporting buildings designed in a muscular classical style in the later 18th century and substantially and sympathetically extended in the early 20th century to include lavish public rooms. The building is associated with the United Kingdom's most important and oldest archery club and is among only a handful of clubs still in existence in the country.
The building for the Royal Company of Archers was located on the edge of Hope Park (now the Meadows) in Edinburgh where free access to public archery butts (an archery practice field, with mounds of earth used for the targets) was granted by the sovereign. The building was used as public house for the enjoyment of its members and other leisure pursuits, such as bowling, which was also accommodated with a bowling green. The Archers use of the building became more formal over the course of the 19th century and by 1897, plans were afoot for a significant extension to provide modern dining and reception facilities, in keeping with the ethos of a gentlemen's club.
The Royal Company of Archers functions as the Sovereign's 'Body Guard in Scotland' and members of the Royal Company must be Scottish or have strong Scottish connections. It performs duties at the request of The Queen at any State and ceremonial occasion taking place in Scotland. This function was reinforced in 1822 when the Company provided a bodyguard for George IV during his visit to Edinburgh. Archery formed an important part of social life in Scotland up until the end of the Edwardian period. Apart from its role as the Sovereign's bodyguard, the Royal Company of Archers still functions as an archery club. The garden ground to the rear of the hall previously contained archery butts; this ground has was redeveloped in 2011 to accommodate student housing to the S and indoor archery butts to the N of the former bowling green.
The architect, Alexander Laing (d.1823), practised in Edinburgh, first as a mason-architect, laterally as an architect, and was responsible for a small number of public commissions including, Inverness Tolbooth and Edinburgh's South Bridge, but he is predominantly known for his work at country estates across Scotland. He became a member of the Royal Company of Archers in 1777.
Arthur Forman Balfour Paul (1875-1938) was son of J Balfour Paul who wrote the history of the Royal Company of Archers and worked for Sir Robert Rowand Anderson) who was also an Archer. A F Balfour Paul became R R Anderson's partner from 1903. The extension to the hall was some of A F Balfour Paul's earliest work and he would go on to prove himself a competent interpreter of neo-Classical architecture in his later work at Dumfries House and at Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
There were windows formerly flanking the coat of arms to the principal elevation, but these were blocked up as part of 1900 extension work.
The 2011 alterations comprised adding a new glazed entrance block to the north elevation, breaking through a former window and providing new internal lift access to all floors; this block also links to the new archery butts laid out along the north boundary wall. Previously there were circa 1904 butts located along the south boundary wall.
List description updated and category changed from B to A as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).