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 26315 73706
326315, 673706


1735-36 incorporating 17th century wing and later additions (see Notes). 3-storey, rectangular-plan Masonic Lodge comprising main section with central gable to S and narrow, 17th century, L-plan wing to N with principal entrance and remnant of former turn-pike stair entrance at NE re-entrant angle.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: S SECTION: 3-storey rectangular structure with piended roof, extended E to St John Street during 20th century in 17th century style. Squared and snecked rubble with ashlar dressings. Principal (E) Elevation: central gable with blind oriel window, hexagonal oculus above and dodecahedral finials; flanked by pedimented dormerheads breaking eaves with timber shutters. Door to far left with basket-arch moulded architrave; two small stair windows above. N SECTION: rubble with chamfered openings, modern crowstepped dormerheads: stuccoed stair jamb incorporating earlier 17th century fabric and later re-entrant turrets towards SE.

INTERIOR: 17th century section: Former kitchen at 1st floor with wrought-iron range and moulded lintel above inscribed 'TEMORW NE SORW BE HEIR'. Timber turnpike stair to N leading to small octagonal chamber below. Fluted Corinthian columns to S flank entrance to windowless Lodge Room (1735-36 section). Lodge Room includes recess for Master's chair (circa 1780) in E wall with ogee-arched and pinnacled semi-octagonal Gothic canopy above; organ chamber in S wall with organ by John Snetzler of 1757; curved recess to W wall with late 20th century mural; trompe l'oeil paintings of statues of Burns and Shakespeare, Byron and Scott to N and S walls. Coved ceiling with further trompe l'oeil decoration and ornate brass chandelier with dove to centre. Windowless refectory below at ground floor with timber beamed ceiling bearing shields depicting the emblems of the trades; Master's chair to E; recessed bar area to N. Master's room and library at 2nd floor with vaulted ceiling.

Statement of Special Interest

23 St John Street is a rare example of early Masonic architecture. Its E elevation is notable for its distinctive composition with its surfeit of windows and dominant blind oriel hinting at the function behind while providing a singular streetscape presence. The interior is of particular note, with a number of interesting features including the fine fireplace and moulded surround in the former kitchen and the elaborate Gothic canopy within the main Lodge Room (or Chapel). The Lodge Room is claimed to be the earliest surviving example of its type in the world, preserving the traditional Scottish arrangement of the interior, with the Master's chair at the East wall and Wardens Chairs flanking forming a triangle. The recess in the S wall of the Lodge room was designed by James Fergus in 1757 as a setting for the organ by renowned organ-builder, John Snetzler. The timber beamed ceiling in the refectory was imported from the Canongate Tolbooth in 1912.

Masons working in the Canongate identified themselves with the general body of Freemasons in Scotland in 1677. In that year they accepted a warrant from the Lodge at Kilwinning in Ayrshire which had long-standing connections with ecclesiastical architects and builders similar to that of Canongate. Various Lodges throughout Scotland met at Lodge Canongate Kilwinning on St Andrew's Day, 1736 with the intention of forming a Grand Lodge, now the Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland. The Lodge of Cannongate Kilwinning is associated with a number of eminent Scots including James Boswell and Robert Burns.

List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey, 2007/08.



John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p213. Charles McKean, Edinburgh - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1992) p28.

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: 04/10/2023 04:19