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 26581 73816
326581, 673816


Robert Wilson, dated 1886. Imposing, 2-storey and basement, 11-bay symmetrical former Board School with Scots-Baronial detailing including prominent crowstepped gables and tall bellcote to centre. Situated on ground sloping to S. Squared and snecked ashlar with polished red sandstone dressings. Base course, cill courses and moulded string course returning to side elevations and rear. Projecting gabled section to centre; panel between string and cill course inscribed 'MILTON HOUSE PUBLIC SCHOOL'; stone-mullioned windows at each floor, transoms at 1st floor; above, elaborate pedimented head with date and roundel to centre depicting St Margaret of Scotland. Bellcote at apex. Flanking bays with crowstepped gablets breaking eaves. Slightly lower recessed piended outer bays to E and W elevations; segmental-arched doors in flanks. Tall ranges extend southwards with basement to slope. Rear elevation: advanced tall 3-bay gable to centre with hoodmoulding to 2nd floor windows; three small attic windows above. Flanked by pedimented dormers.

INTERIOR: central stair hall contains four large landscape panels by William Delacour, 1758, surviving from John Adam's Milton House of 1755.

JANITORS HOUSE: 2-storey and basement (to S-facing slope), roughly square plan, crow-stepped janitor's house (also by Wilson) to SE. Contrasting red and grey ashlar. S elevation with shallow oriel in shallow advanced bay to left.

BOUNDARY WALLS, GATES AND GATEPIERS: stepped low boundary wall of squared and snecked rubble. Substantial retaining wall to sloping ground to S. Cast-iron railings.

Predominantly multi-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows. Graded, grey slate. Tall, corbelled and shouldered end stacks. Clay cans. Tall, octagonal-capped axial ventilators. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

Statement of Special Interest

The former Milton House Public School, now known as Canongate Primary School, is a good and particularly large example of the Board School type with a strong vertical emphasis and well-detailed Scots-Baronial features. The building responds well to the challenges of the site and is a distinctive addition to the character of the Canongate streetscape. Designed by well-respected local architect Robert Wilson, who specialised in building schools throughout the Edinburgh area, Milton House School is of some quality. Its detailing, such as its crowstepped gables with tall chimneys, stone mullions and contrasting grey and red stonework, sets it apart. Edinburgh has a rich heritage of quality board schools which add much to the architectural character of the city. The school was built on the site of Milton House by John Adam, 1755-8 and retains four large landscape panels from the interior of that building.

The historic and architectural value of Edinburgh's Canongate area as a whole cannot be overstated. Embodying a spirit of permanence while constantly evolving, its buildings reflect nearly 1000 years of political, religious and civic development in Scotland. The Canons of Holyrood Abbey were given leave by King David I to found the burgh of Canongate in 1140. Either side of the street (a volcanic ridge) was divided into long, narrow strips of land or 'tofts'. By the end of the 15th century all the tofts were occupied, some subdivided into 'forelands' and 'backlands' under different ownership. Fuedal superiority over Canongate ceased after 1560. The following century was a period of wide-scale rebuilding and it was during this time that most of the areas' mansions and fine townhouses were constructed, usually towards the back of the tofts, away from the squalor of the main street. The 17th century also saw the amalgamation of the narrow plots and their redevelopment as courtyards surrounded by tenements. The burgh was formally incorporated into the City in 1856. Throughout the 19th Century the Canongate's prosperity declined as large sections of the nobility and middle classes moved out of the area in favour of the grandeur and improved facilities of Edinburgh's New Town, a short distance to the North. The Improvement Act of 1867 made efforts to address this, responding early on with large-scale slum clearance and redevelopment of entire street frontages. A further Improvement Act (1893) was in part a reaction to this 'maximum intervention', responding with a programme of relatively small-scale changes within the existing street pattern. This latter approach was more consistent with Patrick Geddes' concept of 'conservative surgery'. Geddes was a renowned intellectual who lived in the Old Town and was a pioneer of the modern conservation movement in Scotland which gathered momentum throughout the 20th century. Extensive rebuilding and infilling of sections of the Canongate's many tenements took place, most notably by city architects, E J McRae and Robert Hurd (mid 20th century) with some early frontages retained and others rebuilt in replica.

List description updated at resurvey (2008).



John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p184; E. Patricia Dennison, Holyrood and Canongate - A Thousand Years of History, (2005) p.150; Dictionary of Scottish Architects, (accessed 10.05.2007)

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.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 04/10/2023 04:03