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

University of Edinburgh, Moray House, Including Gates, Gatepiers, Porters Lodge and Summerhouse, 174 Canongate, EdinburghLB28449

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26379 73739
326379, 673739


Circa 1625 with later additions (see Notes). Outstanding, 2-storey, mansion house with gabled 1st floor balcony supported by massive carved corbels and 3 large windows with moulded margins above, each with strapwork pediment. Exposed rubble with ashlar dressings to principal (N) elevation; harled elsewhere. 9-bay wing (circa 1647) adjoining to E. Further 3-storey, 5-bay block (1753-4) to S. Tall pyramidal gatepiers and crowstep-gabled lodge adjoin to W. Pantiled summerhouse located at SE corner of former garden of Moray House (see Notes).

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: N ELEVATION: Corbelled balcony with wrought-iron railings; string course below; rose finial to gable apex. E-wing with moulded cill courses, stepped at ground floor. Pedimented windows to rear S gable; fleur-de-lys finial at apex. Semi-octagonal stair tower to W elevation.

INTERIOR: first floor balcony room to N contains a domed plaster ceiling with pediments, strapwork compartments and low relief panels containing numerous organic and mythological motifs. 'Cromwell Room' to S has fine painted timber panelling with allegorical scenes. Further domed plaster ceiling divided into quadrants by four large ribs ending in plain saucer dome; white marble fireplace; decorative carved and beaded doorframes. Head of turn-pike stair to W with turned timber balustrade and wooden newel post rising to saucer shaped plaster ceiling containing 21 panels with range of similar motifs.

Predominantly muti-pane timber sash and case windows. Scottish slate. Ashlar skews. Two stacks to W elevation of main block each with pair of tall, diamond-set chimneys. Diamond-set ridge and end stacks to E wing. End stacks to rear block. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

GATES AND GATEPIERS: late 17th century. Pair of substantial clustered-shaft piers, each crowned with a massive, elongated needle spire finial. Wrought-iron gates with decorative iron arch above.

PORTER'S LODGE: Crowstepped, 19th century gate lodge, perhaps containing 17th or 18th century fabric. Round-arched doorway to street. Roll-moulded doorways elsewhere. Mansarded to rear section with end stack. Slate roof. Timber sash and case windows.

SUMMERHOUSE: Diminutive, single-storey, rectangular-plan, piend-roofed summerhouse situated at SE corner of former Moray House garden (NT 26459 73657). Coursed rubble with voussoired round-arched openings. Red pantiles. (Heraldic beasts, formerly located at roof corners, currently stored within summerhouse - seen 2007).

Statement of Special Interest

Moray House is perhaps the finest survival of a 17th century aristocratic mansion house in the Canongate. It is particularly notable for its distinctive corbelled balcony and superior 17th century Rennaissance plaster ceilings. Its imposing obelisk gatepiers also add considerable interest to the streetscape.

A seventeenth century drawing suggests that the original house was in the form of a complete quadrangle of four wings enclosing a central courtyard. Moray House was built, possibly by William Wallace (see Imrie and Dunbar, Accounts Of The Master Of Works, Vol II) for Mary, Dowager Countess of Home and then passed to her daughter the Countess of Moray in 1643. The monogram and arms of the Countess are carved within the pediment above the centre window to the S gable end. Coats of Arms featuring the lions of Home and Dudley are incorporated into the strapwork pediment above the N gable windows. The S gable originally mirrored the N elevation with a similar corbelled balcony.

The British Linen Bank were tenants between 1753 and 1790 at which time the S wing was added. Lord Kames, the renowned Scottish lawyer, philosopher and agriculturalist, was also a tenant of the South Wing during this period. Sold in 1845 to the North British Railway Company, the extra windows and lowered cills to the E wing (Canongate elevation) date from its use as a Free Church Normal School from 1849.

The building is currently part of the University of Edinburgh's Education department, connected, via ground floor link, to Thomson's Land to the S.

Moray House retains fine plasterwork ceilings in the Cromwell Room, Balcony Room and within the original 17th century spiral stairwell. The plasterwork ceilings share a number of ornamental motifs in common with those in Pinkie House, Musselburgh (1613), and Winton House, East Lothian (1630s). Of the more complex motifs, the goddess surrounded by a variety of flowers and fruits is also embedded in the ceiling of the summer house.

Moray House formerly occupied a large parcel of land stretching Southwards to Holyrood Road where its small summer house with round-arched-openings stands (although it has been suggested that it has been moved slightly from its original location and . The summer house is traditionally known as the place where the Articles of the Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments were finally agreed.

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.

Part of A-group with Moray House garden gateway (HB 28450) (see separate listing).

List description updated at resurvey (2007/08).

Statutory address updated (2015). Previously listed as '174 Canongate, Moray House including gates, gatepiers, porters lodge and summerhouse'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 52312

T MacGibbon and D Ross, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Centuries (1887-92) 5v.

J M Wallace, The Historic Houses of Edinburgh, (1987) p27-9.

John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p213.

Charles McKean, Edinburgh - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1992) p29.

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.

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North elevation, University of Edinburgh, Moray House, Including Gates, Gatepiers, Porters Lodge and Summerhouse, 174 Canongate, Edinburgh
South elevation, University of Edinburgh, Moray House, Including Gates, Gatepiers, Porters Lodge and Summerhouse, 174 Canongate, Edinburgh

Printed: 04/10/2023 04:28