Early 16th century origins with series of later additions and alterations (see Notes). 3-storey and attic (4-storey to rear) tenement with irregular fenestration and 6 dormer gablets breaking eaves to Abbey Strand (S) elevation. Harled rubble with sandstone ashlar to ground floor and sandstone dressings. Predominantly moulded and chamfered margins. Wide band course at 1st floor and further band directly above 2nd floor openings; cill course to dormers. Timber door to central pend. Rear (N) elevation: central full-height turnpike stair with conical roof and door off-set to left at ground. Pair of further doorways to right flanked by windows. Single remaining skewputt to E gable.
Variety of multi-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows. Graded Scottish grey slate. Co-axial ridge stacks and broard end stacks. Clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: Some moulded stone fireplaces. Remnant of moulded panel over doorway towards rear of ground floor.
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.
Occupying a key location at the foot of the Canongate and forming part of a group of buildings associated with the Holyrood Palace complex, the building to the Western side of Abbey Strand is an important and rare example of restored early 16th century Scots Renaissance tenement design.
The building has been identified with a large mansion situated on the N side of the High Street near the Abbey Gate, described as 'New Biggit' in 1570. It is perhaps more probable that the building was designed as a tenement with a pair of two-room dwellings on each floor, each having its own forestair to the first floor. The stair door to the E with moulded jambs is still in position while the line of the crowstepped gable remains traceable at the W end and one skewputt remains in place at the E. The windows were at one time leaded with wooden casements and bars, traces of which can still be seen in some of the glazing. It belonged to Andrew Chalmers, the chamberlain of the Abbey until 1613. Its position within the earlier monastic precinct, projecting to the west of the main enclosure, suggests it may have also have been associated with the Abbey's almonry. The upper windows were later heightened. It was altered again in the early 19th century, and restored in 1915-16, when the pedimented ashlar dormers were added. The turnpike stair was extended to rise the full height to the rear of the building and the building was also re-roofed at this time by Thomas Ross, the renowed architect and author, with John MacGibbon, of the five volume 'The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland'. The ground floor of the building was home at one time to both the Crown Inn and the Abbey Tavern. The name 'Thomson's Court' was appended to the site in the 20th century. The original Thomson's Court building (now demolished) was located slightly to the north-east. The walls were harled in the 1990s.
It should be recognised that significant upstanding and below-ground archaeological remains may survive here as part of and in addition to the structures and features described above.
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; North Garden Sundial; Palace Forecourt Fountain; Abbey Court House; Gatehouse and Former Guard Rooms; Palace Coach House; Stables; Queen's Gallery (see separate listings).
List description revised as part of the Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey (2007/08). List description updated 2013.