Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing 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.

17-19 (INCLUSIVE NOS) GEORGE IV BRIDGE AND 5 MERCHANT STREETLB28888

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
B
Date Added
14/12/1970
Local Authority
Edinburgh
Planning Authority
Edinburgh
Burgh
Edinburgh
NGR
NT 25656 73391
Coordinates
325656, 673391

Description

Patrick Wilson, 1860, incorporating earlier fabric. 3-storey and basements (5 storeys to Merchant Street) 5-bay tenement with Jacobean detailing; shops to ground floor to George IV Bridge. Cream ashlar (painted at ground floor to George IV Bridge).

E (GEORGE IV BRIDGE) ELEVATION: base course; modillioned cornice to ground floor; cill course at 2nd floor; modillioned cornice; decorative strapwork stone parapet with urns flanking circular carved panel (see Notes) and at corners. Corniced and consoled windows in moulded surrounds with strapwork pediments and carved inscriptions to lintels (see Notes) to 1st floor; bracketed cills to 2nd floor. 2-leaf timber panelled door to outer right with semicircular fanlight in ornate keyblocked round-arched doorpiece with decorative pilasters and carved spandrels; entablature above cornice with carved open book to centre flanked by urn finials. Modern alterations to shop front.

S (MERCHANT STREET) ELEVATION: 6 bays: dividing bands between ground and 1st, 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd floors, cill course to 4th floor; modillioned eaves cornice and pierced strapwork parapet carried round from E elevation; initials PW Archt. carved on cornice band; later entrance to right with window above; projecting wallhead stack. 3-storeys and basement of regularly fenestrated 5-bay house (Robert Burn, 1810) with cast-iron railings to basement, stone steps and platts over-arching basement area (timber panelled door with fanlight above in Doric-pilastered and corniced doorpiece), round-arched window to outer right at ground (mirroring that to left at No 3 Merchant Street) incorporated to left; additional 2 stories added above; round-arched windows to 3rd floor; cill course to 4th, moulded eaves course and parapet.

Predominantly plate glass in timber sash and case windows. Corniced wallhead stacks with circular cans.

Statement of Special Interest

The circular panel above the eaves cornice has a wreath of thistles and the inscription reads 'Protestant Institute of Scotland.' The inscriptions above the windows at 1st floor read 'Scottish Reformation AD MDLX; Commemorated AD MDCCCLX.' The shields above bear the initials of the 4 reformers: John Knox, Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart and Andrew Melville. The building was intended to provide shops on the ground floor, warehouses below, and well-lit lecture hall, library and offices above. The Petion to the Dean of Guild states the intention to build 'a large and commodious building to be used, occupied and enjoyed for the religious and educational purposes of the Institute and Mission for the promotion of Protestant principles.' According to Grant, the building sprang partly from the celebration of the tercentenary of the Scottish Reformation, partly as part of an attempt to stem 'the increase of Catholicism in Britain.' . George IV Bridge cut right through Merchant Street, and Nos 17-19 were constructed on top of No 5 Merchant Street. Dean of Guild drawings show the older tenement, 'to be taken down to the level of George IV Bridge.' George IV Bridge was part of Thomas Hamilton's plan for the new Southern and Western Approaches to the city. Hamilton was replaced as architect to the Commissioners in 1834 by George Smith. The architectural style specified by the Commissioners of the 1827 Improvement Act for the new buildings associated with the developments was 'Old Flemish,' a variation on Scotch Baronial owing much to the detailing of Heriot's Hospital. Wilson's design reflects this style.

References

Bibliography

Dean of Guild 20th July 1860. BUILDING NEWS, 18th September 1863. Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH (1885) p 294. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) p 226.

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. 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.

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