Robert Matheson, 1861. Monumental, double-height, symmetrical, corbelled and crowstepped Scots Renaissance gatehouse with depressed gothic arch pend and flanking projecting battlemented round towers to E with finialled conical roofs. Central finialled pedimented dormer breaks eaves. Single storey wings to right and left. That to right incorporating 17th century former garden entrance with moulded architrave, decorative carved frieze and broken pediment surmounted by thistle. Squared and snecked sandstone, rubble to W. Base course. Panels to towers with carved Coats of Arms. Pair of crowstepped gable dormerheads to W.
Wings with tripartite windows with stone mullions and some cross-slit openings. Parapet to W.
Gatehouse with 12-pane timber sash and case windows, single storey wings with single-pane timber sash and case windows all with horns. Grey slates. Skews and moulded skewputts. Coped gable stacks.
INTERIOR: (seen 2007). Comprehensively modernised.
Statement of Special Interest
The ground beneath the Palace of Holyroodhouse and nearby structures (including Croft-an-Righ House, the buildings on the N side of Abbey Strand and the buildings around Mews Court) is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 for its archaeological importance. The upstanding remains of Holyrood Abbey and Queen Mary's Bath are also scheduled monuments. Significant upstanding and below-ground archaeological remains may survive as part of and in addition to the structures and features described above.
This monumental and impressive gateway forms most of the East side of the Abbey Courtyard and leads from the Palace forecourt to the Abbey Courtyard. The two round towers echo the NW and SW towers of the Palace itself. They also form part of the wider stable complex of buildings associated with the Holyroodhouse.
It was constructed by Robert Matheson (circa 1807-1877), the Clerk of Works for Scotland, who carried out a programme of gradual improvements to the Palace, the Park and the Abbey Precincts at the request of Queen Victoria. She was spending an increasing amount of time at Holyrood and was concerned that there was a lack of privacy to the Palace and the grounds. The improvements she instigated included new Lodges for the entrances to the Park, rebuilding parts of the Abbey Courtyard and establishing the fountain in the Palace forecourt. A former gatehouse lay to the North of this building and had been demolished in 1753, although a section remains in the Abbey Court House (see separate listing).
The former garden doorway is likely to date from mid 17th century and was probably made for one of the Royal visits to the Palace in either 1617 or 1633.
In 1128, David I built an Augustinian Abbey at Holyrood. This flourished and when the Royal Court was in Edinburgh many Royal Guests chose to stay in the guesthouse of the abbey rather than the Castle, as the former was considered more comfortable. In 1501, James IV built a Palace on the site of the Abbey guesthouse and a gatehouse was constructed. This gatehouse was demolished in 1753 and the surrounding area, is thought to have become quite dilapidated. In 1822-3, the King's architect, Robert Reid began a new building programme in the area, but it was not until the more comprehensive rebuilding programme by Robert Matheson in the 1850s and 60s that this gatehouse was built.
Part of A-group comprising: Palace of Holyroodhouse; 28 and 30 Croft-An-Righ (Croft-An-Righ House); Abbey Strand Eastern Building; Abbey Strand Western Building; Queen Mary's Bath House; North Garden Sundial; Palace Forecourt Fountain; Abbey Court House; Gatehouse and Former Guard Rooms; Palace Coach House; Stables; Queen's Gallery (see separate listings).
References from previous list description: Builder Nov 24 1860.
List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08. List description updated 2013.