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 30071 68943
330071, 668943


William Adam for Lord Somerville, 1726-34. Palladian mansion with pavilion to W incorporating part of earlier house by John Mylne 1584-5 (E pavilion intended but not built), with later 19th century additions at rear of pavilion. House set in landscaped grounds originally laid out by William Adam. Compact 3-bay pedimented centre block, 2-storey over basement, cream polished ashlar, channelled basement, ground and 1st floor rusticated, Gibbs surrounds to openings, base course, band course, cill courses, deep entablature, dentilled cornice, pedimented advanced central bay breaking stone balustrade with urns. Sides and rear harled with polished ashlar dressings, wing piend-roofed with simple frieze and cornice, harled. Timber sash and case windows throughout with predominantly 18-pane glazing pattern.

SE (FRONT) ELEVATION: advanced, pedimented central bay with late 18th century stone perron stair to entrance at ground floor. 2 windows to basement behind arch supporting forestair, windows in outer bays to basement. Door to ground floor half glazed, with flanking windows forming tripartite with consoled frieze and segmentally-arched pediment over, windows to outer bays. 1st floor with rusticated pilasters, central Venetian window with engaged Doric columns, window to outer bays. Somerville arms quatered with Bayntum arms to tympanum. Urns to pediment dies and termini of stone balustrade. Single storey over basement link wings, harled, each with door and windows to basement, shell niche flanked by 2 windows at 1st floor. Link to NE has 2-bay addition; 2 windows to front with stone rosettes over, 2 windows to N return. SW wind adjoining W pavilion, square on plan, piend-roofed, single storey over tall basement due to incorporation of earlier (1585) vaulted ground floor, rubble (originally harled). 3-bay front and NE return, woth 3 windows to each floor, tall at 1st floor with round-arched central window, small square windows to attic.

NW (REAR) ELEVATION: garden front. Central advanced, piended, canted bay through 2 floors over basement, with swept stone stair to pediemnted doorway at ground floor, windows flanking, round-arched window with windows flanking at 1st floor, small segmental-arched timber dormer to attic. Outer bays with window to each floor, small (later?) bull?s-eye to 1st floor to right of centre bay. Broad, corniced corner dies. Link to left 3-bay, central bipartite with windows flanking to each floor. Harled stair tower to rear of W pavilion, and later 19th century harled additions comprising a lower 2-storey, piend-roofed addition adjoining link and 2-storey, piend-roofed, 3-bay harled addition adjoining pavilion with 3 windows at each floor to NW.

SW ELEVATION: return of pavilion and later 19th century 2-storey addition form cobbled service courtyard with ashlar coped wall and ashlar gatepiers, simple cast-iron gates. Pavilion with late 18th century blind doorway, ornamental, with corniced surround and niche above at 1st floor, flanked by canted bays through 2 floors, 2 small windows to attic. Modern swimming pool to SW covered by and linked to addition by polythene tunnel.

NE ELEVATION: 5-bay; link adjoining at ground and basement; 2 small windows to basement, 3 tall round-headed windows at ground floor,

5 windows to 1st floor with central round-headed window. Broad, corniced corner dies.

INTERIOR: Grand vestibule and stair hall at GROUND FLOOR part of processional route to state apartments on 1st floor. Ornate Baroque plasterwork at ground floor by Samual Calderwood, circa 1736. Coved ceilinged HALL with heavy dentilled cornice, with view through triumphal archway to stairwell at rear. Entrance doorway framed by Ionic screen, mirrored in Ionic surround to arched opening to stairwell. Chimneypiece to right with egg and dart moulded surround, acanthus frieze and large trophy above comprised of Somerville and Rotherham arms. Stucco cartouches above all doors opening off, doors beneath arch with large trophys to soffit. All doors with 6 raised and fielded panels, marble tiled floor.

DINING ROOM: (in use as Drawing Room) at ground floor left. Ionic order to basket-arched screen to recess to S and to pedimented overmantel of grey marble chimneypiece to right flanked by doors with white marble architraves. Stucco panelling hung with family portraits, each with sculpted panels or trophy over, including Euorpa and the bull, bull metamorphosed into Somerville dragon (EDINBURGH p584). Dentilled cornice, deep diapered cove with corner acanthus leaves, ceiling bordered with scrolls and corner rosettes, panelled to recess behind screen with rossettes. More restrained decoration in LIBRARY to right at rear, and PANELLED ROOM to front (in use as Dining Room) with grey marble fireplace of Adam period, ceiling probably 1860. BEDROOM in E link with cusp-panelled cupboard doors and overmantel panel painting of a grotto with statues over fireplace in angle with later grate.

STAIRWELL: restored 1991. Walls white painted, rusticated at ground floor, panelled at 1st with gilded low-relief foliate ornament to panels and doorpieces, blue painted ceiling with central gilded rose. Cantilevered flying stair with polished mahogany treads and barley-sugar balusters. Stair lit by Venetian at 1st floor, archway at head of stair with gilded keystone, arch contains circular service stair within its recess.

FIRST FLOOR: plasterwork by Thomas Clayton; lighter, Rococo. DRAWING ROOM: (in use as Ballroom) along entire side of house. Replastered in late 18th century, currently painted blue with white ceiling. Lit by Venetian window of Ionic order to E with swags above, single window to N and S with broken pediment above. Stucco panelled walls, dado frieze, fireplace to W wall with grey marble lugged surround, consoled frieze, framed overmantel above with relief of Neptune drawn by seahorses. Dentilled cornice, coved ceiling with scrolls, foliage and stucco swans framing gods and goddesses heads in spandrels, soffit divided into

3 with central octagonal releif of Jupiter and Juno. SMALL DRAWING ROOM to centre, lit by large Venetian window, Corinthianised in late 18th century, chimneypiece and plain oval of ceiling also later. Principal BEDCHAMBER and DRESSING ROOM to E with original stucco ceilings. Later stair replacing W Adam stair in W link to WEST PAVILION: stone groin-vaulted rooms at ground floor flanking thick chimney wall; floor 3ft below ground, originally part of earlier Mylne house of 1584-5. Room extending across front in use as kitchen, central supporting column possibly later. Upper floors late 18th century (EDINBURGH p584).

SUNDIAL: possibly circa 1700, baluster type, with shaft enriched with flowers. Sited to W of house.

Statement of Special Interest

James Somerville, born 1698, became Lord Somerville in 1722 and in 1724 married a widow and heiress, Anne Rolt (nee Bayntun). They returned to Scotland in 1726, pulled down the old house of Drum and erected a new house to the design of William Adam, incorporating the remarkable vaulted ground floor of an earlier house, built by Mylne for Hugh Somerville in 1584-5 in the West pavilion. This house was descibed as being "in the form of a church" (MEMORIE OF THE SOMERVILLES (1815), quoted in COUNTRY LIFE (9th Oct 1915

and was burnt out twice. The stone supporting column and beam in the kitchen may have been added by Adam when the ground floor of the earlier house was incorporated into the pavilion. The Adam house can be dated by the arms on the pediment of the S front are those of Lord Somerville and his first wife, whereas those inside over the mantel in the Hall are of the Somervilles and the Rotherhams, the arms of his second wife whom he married in 1736 (see H More Nisbet THE DRUM OF THE SOMERVILLES p18). The estate was sold in lots between 1800-1806, and had several changes of ownership until it was purchased by Mr John More Nisbett who also bought back most of the policies, and has remained in the ownership of the More Nisbetts since. The ambitious design of the main front and its slightly muddled use of classical elements has been attributed to Adam?s inexperience as an architect (Bolton & Gifford, McWilliam & Walker). However, Gow?s reappraisal of the house, particularly the internal planning around the 1st floor grand state apartments explains the need for external emphasis of the piano nobile with the Ionic order and Venetian window. Although the house was sobered to some degree in the 19th century, and was painted white in the 20th century (gilding has been detected beneath the paint in the dining room), the exurberant magnificent stucco work of Clayton and Calderwood has survived intact. The surrounding landscape was originally laid out by Adam, the present layout is largely that shown in a plan of 1808 for Robert Cathcart. Most of the estate buildings; Stables, Steading, East Lodge, Ice House and Walled Garden are circa 1800 and are listed separately under Gilmerton, The Drum. See also Old Dalkeith Road, Drumbank, and Gilmerton, Ferniehill Drive, North Gatepiers, all form part of the Category A group. A look-out tower erected by William Adam in 1741 to the N has not survived. The facsimilie of Edinburgh?s Mercat Cross (the original was once sited at the S end of the main avenue) is sited near the stables (listed separately). Tait also refers to other built structures terminating avenues which have now been lost, although the vistas have been maintained, and there is evidence for a canal to the east of the house, now silted (see Inventory p74) there is a small overgrown stone building nearby, possibly a curling house. There is some debate over the date of the sundial (included in listing); the INVENTORY and original 1966 listing date it to the 17th century, however, Gifford, McWilliam and Walker contend that it is a 20th century replica. Some of the policies have been lost to housing and land-fill in the late 20th century.



W Adam VITRUVIUS SCOTICUS plates 37 & 38 (Somerville House).

A T Bolton "The Drum, Midlothian" COUNTRY LIFE 9 October 1915),

pp 488-492. GD 18/4728/10 Letter from William Adam to Sir John Clerk, referring to Calderwood?s work at Somerville House. Gifford, McWilliam & Walker EDINBURGH (1984), p583-4. I Gow "Sparkle Restored" COUNTRY LIFE (15 August 1991), p64-5. LUC for CCS & HBM INVENTORY OF GARDENS AND DESIGNED LANDSCAPES IN SCOTLAND (1986), Vol 5 p72-76. H More Nisbett "Drum House" TRANSACTIONS OF THE EDINBURGH ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION Vol 4 (1908), pp75-77. H More Nisbett THE DRUM OF THE SOMERVILLES (1928). A A Tait THE LANDSCAPE GARDEN IN SCOTLAND (1980), p27. T Whyte "An Account of the Parish of Liberton in Mid-Lothian" ARCHAEOLOGICA SCOTICA 1 (1792) p318.

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Printed: 10/08/2022 02:58