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.


Group Category Details
100000019 - see notes
Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25506 73606
325506, 673606


David Cousin, 1859-63, probably incorporating earlier fabric. 7-bay double pile office building built on steeply-sloping site, 5 storeys and attic to left, 4 storeys and attic to right, with central pavilion-roofed entrance tower and recessed single bay to outer right; 5 storeys, attic and basement to rear; roofline of rear block with taller turreted tower to right and lower pyramidal tower to left showing from N; Jacobean/Mannerist detailing. Squared and snecked sandstone with polished ashlar dressings to principal and side elevations; random rubble with polished dressings to rear.

N (N BANK STREET) ELEVATION: moulded base course; moulded dividing band between 1st and 2nd floors to right; moulded string course to eaves line. Buckle quoins to right. Moulded surrounds to windows. Slightly advanced single bay entrance tower to centre: round-arched decoratively panelled 2-leaf timber door in round-arched surround with decorative keystone and vermiculated voussoirs in consoled and corniced pilastered doorpiece; bracketed jetties to 2nd and 3rd floor windows; tall window to 1st, paired windows to 2nd, with strapwork pediments and flanked by annular colonnettes; square-plan tower above eaves-line with decorative blind openings, bracketed eaves, large gargoyles to corners and brattishing to finialled, fish-scale-slated pavilion roof with initialled weathervane (FC - Free Church). 3 bays to left regularly fenestrated; strapwork pediments; conical-roofed central turret flanked by dormers with broken pediments. 3 bays to right: corniced windows to ground floor; tall windows with high strapwork pediments to 2nd floor (paired to centre), lighting Presbytery Hall; segmental pediments to 3rd floor; conical-roofed bartizan to outer right; 3 dormers with segmental pediments to left. Lower recessed bay to outer right with balustraded balcony: narrow window to ground with strapwork pediment (monogram D COUSIN, ARCHITECT). Tall square-plan crowstep-gabled tower to rear section at right with balustraded balcony, finialled ogee-roofed bartizan to right and taller bell-cast pyramidal-roofed turret to left.

W ELEVATION (TO STEPS TO MILNE'S COURT): advanced balustraded bay to left with tripartite window to 2nd floor, lighting Presbytery Hall. Corbelled out circular stair tower with narrow shouldered windows in re-entrant angle. 2-bay block to right: timber boarded door in moulded, corniced surround with carved panel (burning bush) over to left; regularly fenestrated above; bartizan to left and balustraded parapet.

S (JAMES COURT) ELEVATION: stone steps and platts over-arching basement area to timber panelled door with letterbox fanlight in roll-moulded surround in outer right bay; finialled, pyramidal-roofed square-plan tower above. Remainder regularly fenestrated; paired windows to 3rd floor at right; shouldered wallhead stack to left. Stained glass window in 3rd bay from right at ground floor in moulded surround with carved inscription, date and initials (see Notes). Spear-headed cast-iron railings to basement area. Brattishing to roof.

INTERIOR: Presbytery Hall: timber panelled (Oregon pine), with coupled fluted Corinthian pilasters; decoratively panelled timber doors in corniced surrounds with carved overdoors (see Notes); Mannerist timber chimneypiece incorporating clock. Decorative coved compartmented plaster ceiling (painted and gilded) with pendants and heraldic devices. Tripartite stained glass window to W (see Notes). Important collection of furniture, portrait paintings and busts. Later Chalmers Hall at 3rd floor (formerly Ladies Missionary Society Hall): barrel-vaulted ceiling with grid-iron ribs, timber panelling, embossed paper festooned frieze and Ionic pilastered timber chimneypieces; outline of engaged drum staircase obtrudes to NW.

Statement of Special Interest

The A group comprises 15 and 16 North Bank Street (both now forming the College and Offices of the Free Church of Scotland), and the balustrade which runs to the N of them. Built as the National Security Savings Bank and offices for the Free Church (NSSB and date 1860 over principal entrance); according to the BUILDER, the whole of the lower part of the building was to be used by the Edinburgh Savings Bank, described by Grant as 'an institution for the benefit of the thrifty poorer classes.' The doorpiece now at No 15 North Bank Street (inscription 'Free Church of Scotland Offices,' and date 1860) was formerly in the outer left bay of No 16. The building occupies the western part of the site of the N block of James Court, built by James Brownhill in 1723-7, and destroyed by fire, August 1857. A drawing by James Skene (hanging in the Presbytery Hall) shows the block in its original form. The Dean of Guild drawings of 15th September 1857 show plans to temporarily stabilise the burnt-out ruin. The Thomas Begbie photograph shows the remains of the building after the fire and before rebuilding began. The rear elevation would appear to incorporate a considerable amount of original fabric. The Dean of Guild drawings show 2 different designs for the principal elevation. The inscription over the window to rear reads NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA, with date 1860 and initials FC PH (Free Church Presbytery Hall). Cousin's original plan shows this window as a door. This window, by Ballantyne and Sons of Leith, depicts James VI, flanked by Sir David Lindsay of the Mount and George Buchanan, and the inscription 'The gift of David Cousin, architect.' The stained glass window in the Presbytery Hall (also by Ballantyne) contains 9 portrait medallions of Protestant worthies. The most important of the paintings in this room is DO Hill's commemorative group portrait of the signing of the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission, 23rd May, 1843 at Tanfield, which includes a portrait of David Cousin with John Maitland, who bought the site and provided much of the funding, holding the plans for the Free Church Offices. The busts include those of Principal William Cunningham, by Sir John Steell, and Dr David Welsh, by William Brodie. Most of the furniture is original. The panelling is by JR Swann (of Leith Walk), and incorporates 2 earlier carved overdoor panels featuring fruit and flowers; according to BUILDING NEWS, the walnut furnishings were supplied by Taylor and son, Princes Street, Edinburgh. The glazed bookcases in the Chalmers hall contain an important collection of books and manuscripts.



Dean of Guild 15th September 1857 and 9th August 1859. BUILDER 30th October 1858 and BUILDING NEWS 27th March 1863. Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH (1885) vol ii p95. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) p 179. Rock, Joe THOMAS BEGBIE'S EDINBURGH (1992) pl 109. Anderson, William GUIDE TO THE FREE CHURCH COLLEGE AND OFFICES (1994).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

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Printed: 11/08/2022 19:06