Early 18th century (either remodelling or reconstruction of earlier structure); extended and refronted early 19th century. Main block 2-storey and attic; original L-plan mansion to E incorporating kitchen wing, now altered to 2 storeys with lean-to roof; walled courtyard extends to separate single storey range, now garage, to N; main block extended to W to form broader rectangle. Symmetrical classical principal (W) elevation with pedimented centrepiece incorporating entrance with Doric columns; symmetrical rear (E) elevation with Renaissance detailing including central gablehead stack with scrolled skewputts and pedimented dormers with finials. Principal (W) and early 19th century parts of N and S elevations coursed rubble (formerly harled) with droved sandstone ashlar dressings, including ashlar base and band courses, moulded eaves cornice and architraved surrounds with slightly projecting sills to windows; otherwise rubble (formerly harled) with sandstone ashlar dressings, including architraves with chamfered reveals to openings. Quoins at arrises, inculding to both earlier (E) and later (W) sections.
MAIN BLOCK: W (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 3-bay; projecting pedimented central bay; stone steps to 6-panel timber door set in tripartite ashlar surround; narow flanking 4-pane side lights with Doric pilasters to either side; whole set back slightly within segmental arched opening incorporating wide fanlight and supported on Doric pilasters; flanking Doric columns on plinths support entablature with moulded cornice above. Single segmental-headed window above, surmounted by ashlar pediment with oculus window at centre; single segmental-headed window to each storey to flanking bays.
E (REAR) ELEVATION: 5-bay; entrance with late 20th century glazed door to centre; single window to ground and 1st floor to flanking bays (additional narrow window to ground floor of outer right bay); raised coped gable with scrolled skewputts to central bay; paired dormers below; coped gabled dormers to outer flanking bays with carved floral motifs at apex and thistle and rose finials; left dormer bears date 170_.
N ELEVATION: early 19th century section to right with single window to each storey to left; small inserted window with concrete architrave with chamfered reveals to right of ground floor window; coped gable end of early 18th century section visible to left behind kitchen wing.
S ELEVATION: early 19th century section to left with 2 windows to ground floor; former opening visible in between (possibly a single window intended here prior to construction of fireplace in space behind); single segmental-headed window to 1st floor. Coped gabled early 18th century section adjoins to right; single window to right to ground and 1st floor; 2 small attic windows at base of gable; former window (possibly stair window) visible to left between ground and 1st floors.
KITCHEN WING: N ELEVATION: mostly within walled courtyard. Central entrance with rubble relieving arch; stair window with iron grille to right; small inserted window with unchamfered architrave above door; one to right of stair window and one to outer right beyond courtyard wall above small lean-to (possibly added as coal store or privy). Lower courses of stonework protrude around circular-plan oven to outer left at junction with courtyard wall.
S ELEVATION: entrance with late 20th century glazed door to far left; window above; one to right to each storey; all openings with rubble relieving arches. Small rectangular stone sundial to upper right corner of wall. Upper courses of wall replaced and coped when roof altered to lean-to.
W ELEVATION: 2 inserted windows to left of ground floor; that to right with droved ashlar surround; single window to right of 1st floor; lean-to roof (later modification) slopes downwards to left.
E ELEVATION: blind; lean-to roof slopes downwards to right where it adjoins courtyard wall. Stone trough (possibly original) with taller round-arched back built against wall to left of centre; small circular opening (now blocked) towards apex of arch, said to formerly contain pipe from which water could be drawn into kitchen behind (in which case it must have been piped around fireplace which lies immediately behind).
Mainly 12-pane timber sash and case windows (some 16-pane and one 24-pane sash and case window to kitchen wing). Grey slate roofs throughout; piended to 19th century extension; that to kitchen wing has been altered to lean-to (original form uncertain). Ashlar stack with band course above pediment to W elevation; rendered wallhead stacks to N and S of 19th century section (band course of that to S has been replaced with coping); 2 ashlar stacks with band courses to valley between 2 sections of main block; gablehead stacks to N and S of 18th century section of main block (that to S is of droved ashlar) and one to central gable on E elevation; round cans. Remains of 2 truncated stacks to E and W of kitchen wing (that to W formerly wallhead stack). Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: main (W) entrance opens into vesibule from which inner doorway with glazed fanlight and side lights leads into central hallway with stone flagged floor; hallway contains stone cantilevered half-turn staircase with cast-iron balustrade lit by circular cupola, glazed at apex; cornice of miniature fan vaults to hall and vestibule. Dining room: has buffet recess and marble fireplace surround with finely carved timber and composition chimney piece incorporating shells and coral and fluted pilasters (and initials R T, probably for member of Trotter family); Morning room: has carved timber mantelpiece (originally in main bedroom above dining room) with pastoral scene and fluted pilasters. Mainly 6-panel timber doors in early 19th century doorcases. Kitchen wing retains number of original features, including timber staircase with carved timber splat balusters and newel post with ball finial; original/early kitchen range to E end; large segmental-headed fireplace with stone surround to left of centre; brick-lined oven of circular plan with stone opening and simple moulded Gothic arch to left; recess with boarded timber door with strap hinges to right; early panelled shutters with strap hinges to ground floor and stair windows. Former floor to 1st floor now removed; corner fireplace intact above ground floor recess in kitchen range. Entrance with chamfered stone surround to main body of house (possibly originally external door).
WALLED COURTYARD AND GARAGE: eaves height coped rubble walls run N from E and W sides of kitchen wing to join single storey structure, now garage; enclosed yard in between is stone flagged; N entrance architraved to outer face; S entrance partly architraved, partly with stugged long and short surrounds to outer face; door check to reveals of each. Retaining walls of courtyard continue N at full height; that to E terminating at N edge of garage; that to W continuing for a short distance past garage. Garage (possibly originally service range, formerly taller) is of rubble with corrugated asbestos roof; central entrance with stone surround and boarded timber door to S elevation; window with stone surround to outer right; similar to left (originally door); inserted window to left of that. Single window with stone architrave to W elevation/courtyard wall. Large inserted garage entrance with concrete lintel to E elevation. Blind N elevation with 20th century timber shed (open to N) with corrugated iron roof and facing to right. Outer yard formed to E of kitchen courtyard by 2 sections of coped rubble wall; one running E from NE corner of kitchen wing; one, curved in plan, running at right angles to NE, terminating in droved ashlar gatepost; former section continues at right angles to S for short distance.
WELL: approximately 45m to SE of house; approximately 1m diameter to outer edge of mid 20th century low coped coursed stone parapet; parapet surmounted by wrought-iron tripod finial.
Statement of Special Interest
Symbol for large house/tower shown at 'Mortoun' on map of LOTHIAN AND LINLITQUO, by J Blaeu, 1654; appears in present form on PLAN OF THE LANDS OF MORTON, THE PROPERTY OF RICHARD TROTTER ESQ, by Robert Bell, Surveyor, 1842; PLANS and ELEVATIONS of Proposed Alterations for Major T Trotter at Morton House, Fairmilehead by W H Sayers, 25 June 1946, in NMRS drawings collection, Ref. EDD/157; Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland, INVENTORY OF THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS OF THE CITY OF EDINBURGH (1951) p236; Sheila G Forman, A COUNTRY HOUSE WITHIN THE CITY BOUNDARIES in 'The Scotsman', Saturday 14 December 1957, p8; Charles J Smith, HISTORIC SOUTH EDINBURGH, VOL II (first published 1979, this edition 1982) pp387-89; John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, EDINBURGH, in 'The Buildings of Scotland' series (first published 1984; this edition 1991) pp568-69.