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- Category: A
- Date Added: 14/07/1966
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 21842 73342
- Coordinates: 321842, 673342
William Henry Playfair, 1828; later alterations. 2-storey and attic Italianate villa. Sandstone ashlar. Balustrading at 1st floor supported by large voluted brackets; string course at 2nd floor; balustraded platform roof.
E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: large, balustraded porte cochere with terrace above; single windows flank entrance; irregular fenestration at floors above.
S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical elevation. Projecting end bays; large tripartite windows at ground floor; single, central window at 1st floor; 3 single windows above; large single windows at ground floor on returns. 6-bay central section; 4 large single windows in central bays flanked by plate doors; 6 single windows above at 1st floor; modern attic extension with balcony above.
W ELEVATION: single storey central projection with short approach flight of stairs and terrace above; tripartite window on main front and single windows on returns; 2 single windows above at 1st and 2nd floors. Single window in right bay at ground floor; tripartite window in left bay at ground floor; broad band course at 1st floor.
N ELEVATION: irregular massing.
6-, 12-, 15-, 16-pane and plate glass timber sash and case windows; modern fenestration at additions. Low pitched slate roof with overhanging bracketed eaves; ashlar octagonal corniced stacks, some in groups of 2, 3 and 4 flues.
INTERIOR: many original features survive including decorative cornices, timber work, curtain pelmets, marble fireplaces and later stained glass. Long barrel vaulted hall with entrance door at E end; glass doors leading to garden at W end; hall divided by doors half-way down. W hall wall paintings after Turner. Most rooms redecorated; room at far end of hall (originally the Drawing Room) still opulent with gilded cornice and large mirrors; upholstered door in upstairs bedroom, 19th century. Main stair in W end and is well-stair. Window with names of Hope family scratched on. W basement relatively untouched since 1st half of 20th century. Part of E basement converted into flat and has modern amenities. Large wine cellar, coal cellar and barrel-vaulted room that was used as an air-raid shelter by the family also in basement.
GARDEN: a small pond with white timber ornamental bridge to N of house; stone base of a sculpture also to N; sculpture of three children to the E (may be the statue that once stood on the base); garden terraces to W. Drive curves to E leaving an unspoilt lawn with box hedges to the S.
COACH HOUSE: 1- storey, 3-bay main block; large central arched entrance leads in the porch on N front; modern garage door flanks archway (used to be archway too); 3 single windows above. L-plan extension to right; single window flanked by door on N front; timber door above; timber door on E return; garage doors on W return.
WALL AND GATEPIERS: coped rubble wall; ashlar piers with ball finials.
Statement of Special Interest
The original house on this site was Brucehill and was built for Charles Bruce in the 1720's. It was purchased by David Campbell in 1762, who renamed the house Belmont. In 1827, Lord MacKenzie purchased the estate and the following year employed Playfair to design a new house for the site. In 1853, the house was bought by the Hope family and remained in their possession until the 1930's when James Miller acquired the house and grounds. The entrance to the estate was originally on Corstorphine Road but Miller moved the boundaries back to Ellersly Road and used the land in front for a housing development. The core to Playfair's design is the convergence of the interior and exterior, which is achieved by bringing the garden right up to the house, framing the garden patio with projecting bays and the use of large plate windows that enable the finery of the garden to be enjoyed from the principal rooms. This design principle became increasingly popular during the 19th century with the fashion for orangeries and conservatories which created a space that married the outside and inside.
1773 Map by Andrews and Mostry Armstrong MAP OF THE THREE LOTHIANS; Drawings in Edinburgh University Library, Playfair Collection; Gifford, McWilliam & Walker EDINBURGH (BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND) (1984), p629-30; J Wallace HISTORIC HOUSES OF EDINBURGH (1987) p185-186; Gow NOTES FOR THE COCKBURN ASSOCIATION VISIT TO BELMONT HOUSE (1987), NMRS D8.41 BEL(P), H Colvin DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS (revised edition 1995) p766.
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