Possibly Sir William Bruce, 1687, and later additions. 2 and 3-storey with basement; near symmetrical, Dutch-classical mansion. Harled rubble with sandstone ashlar dressings. Curvilinear gables; buckle quoins; lugged architraves.
W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 5-bay; central balustraded porte cochere (early 19th century) supported by paired Roman Doric columns; round-arched pilastered doorway to enclosed porch behind; 2-leaf panelled door and umbrella fanlight; single window to 1st floor above; single window behind balustraded parapet at eaves. 2-bays to outer left and right gabled with regular fenestration to all 3 floors; small blind windows to basement. Balustraded parapet to areas.
E ELEVATION: 3 gabled bays; 1830 extension at ground (see below); central gable concave with flanking curvilinear gables; single, central window at 1st floor with round-arched panel bearing date inscription and horse-shoe finial above; single windows to outer left and right.
S ELEVATION: 3-bay; eaves course and cornice; single windows to all bays; lengthened window to 1st floor outer right; central ground floor window now used as door to gardens from hotel kitchens; decorative broken pediments to 2nd floor windows; 4 small, gabled dormers between bays.
N ELEVATION: 3-bay as S elevation; 1890 full-height extension to central bay (MacGibbon and Ross); curvilinear gable with pediment re-used from original central 2nd floor window; bipartite windows to
3 floors; single window set in gablehead; dividing band courses. Original eaves course, cornice and fenestration in bays to outer left and right; 2 small, gabled dormers above.
S ADDITION: circa 1830; T-plan; 2-storey; dividing band course, eaves course and cornice. 3-bay wings adjoining house, bowed to N and S; further 3 bays to W with vehicular access at ground and single windows above; single storey bowed blocks at re-entrant angles forming balconies to 1st floor windows above.
Predominantly 12-pane, timber, sash and case windows. Grey slate roof; corniced gable head and ridge stacks; moulded cans.
INTERIOR: fine interior with many original features remaining.
GROUND FLOOR: ENTRANCE HALL: entrance via vestibule with 6 steps to early 19th century segmental-arched doorway to stair hall; original, Dutch, black and white marble floors survive. Original grand stair removed in early 19th century; W stair landing converted to balcony, retaining original balusters; access to 1st floor by secondary N stair. To left of entrance hall, THE OLD BAR: stone fireplace, panelled shutters and plain cornice. To right of entrance hall, THE ITALIAN ROOM: original timber panelling; classical landscapes attributed to James and Robert Nories to panelling; fireplace with corniced fire surround and flanking, full-height, fluted ionic pilasters; pulvinated frieze and cornice to doorpiece; shutters; heavy cornice. To S, extension circa 1830, 2 DINING ROOMS flanking oval-domed vestibule; both rooms with bowed ends and coombed ceilings; curved mahogany doors painted white with gilding; pilasters and palmette frieze to doorpieces; intricate cornices; circa 1800, pine and gesso fireplace to room left of vestibule with Corinthian pilasters and marine frieze; fireplace to room on right (originally built as drawing room) simply carved white marble.
1ST FLOOR: 3 doorways to W landing; central doorway, heavily carved with consoles and pediment, leading to TAPESTRY ROOM (original drawing room); exuberant decoration throughout; lugged sandstone fireplace with painted timber chimneypiece including carved putti, decorative foliage and fruit, flower vases, adult male heads and the Dick family coat of arms; landscape painting framed by pulvinated frieze, floral swags and putti bearing a crown to overmantle; white painted and gilded panelling; original Mortlake tapestries depicting Oriental scenes to E and W walls; lugged architraves with panelled doors; low, Italian, heavily modelled compartmental ceiling incorporating extravagant flowers and foliage, merpeople, gargoyles and heraldic animals. To N the LEATHER ROOM (original bedchamber) also known as the Spanish Room because of decorative leatherwork from Cordova set into panelling; this was designed especially for the Dick family?s earlier Lawnmarket house and includes fruit, flowers, cupids and animals worked in high relief against a red background; fireplace with roses carved in consoled lugs.
GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: 2 pairs of gatepiers to Priestfield Road entrance; outer pair banded, inner pair panelled, both with ball finials. High rubble wall surrounding estate and golf course.
Mid 18th century. Cubic sundial supported by a plain column and flat, carved pedestal; carved, circular dials to all 5 exposed sides.
SUNDIAL: mid 18th century. Cubic sundial supported by a plain column and flat, carved pedestal; carved, circular dials to all 5 exposed faces; gnomon remaining to 1 face.
GARDEN STATUARY AND SEATS TO S TERRACE GARDEN: garden furniture transferred (1746) from Sir Alexander Dick?s Dutch Garden (which was on the site of the stables) to S terrace garden; 3 carved stone seats,
2 dated 1687 but possibly 17th century fragments mounted on 19th century seats; Bacchus fountain; sphinx on plinth. 18th century sundial listed separately.
MEMORIAL: Sandstone memorial dated 1840 in field adjoining gardens; pedestal with inscription panel commemorating the 2nd son and daughter of Sir Robert and Harriet Dick Cunyngham who died abroad; obelisk with carved butterfly above.
Statement of Special Interest
The estate was originally known as Priestfield and was owned by the monks of Kelso; in 1519 it was granted to the printer Walter Chepman by James IV and subsequently acquired by the Hamiltons who sold it to Sir James Dick in 1672 (the estate remains in the Dick family to this day). First baronet of Prestonfield, Sir James Dick was also Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1680-1681. Whilst in office he made himself unpopular by expressing Catholic sympathies: as a result the original house on the site was burnt down, probably by enraged students, on 11 January 1681. The existing house was rebuilt with the aid of the Treasury in 1687, only the leatherwork of the bedchamber having survived the blaze. The identity of the architect is ambiguous although most sources positively identify Bruce, the King's Surveyor-General, who reconstructed Holyrood Place and it is certainly true that many of the craftsmen who worked at the Palace were also employed by Sir James. Another possibility is Robert Mylne, the King's Master Mason.
During the baronetcy of Sir Alexander Dick (who succeeded in 1746) the house gained important literary connections: James Boswell and Dr Johnson enjoyed the hospitality of Prestonfield and both Allan Ramsay the poet and his son the painter were frequent visitors. Alexander Dick was also responsible for the laying out of formal gardens including the Dutch garden (on the site of the stables), in which the sundial was a feature.
The house has been used as a hotel since 1959. See separate list entries for the stables, Morgan Lodge (former South Lodge) Prestonfield Avenue, and 13 Priestfield Road (former West Lodge).