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 25562 73527
325562, 673527


Circa 1590 and 1726, with later alterations and additions, including George Smith, circa 1840, Stuart Henbest Capper, 1890 and 1893, George Shaw Aitken 1895 and John Wilson Paterson, 1958-9 and 1964 (see Notes). 5-storey and attic 8-bay tenement with remains of 2 16th century 3-storey L-plan blocks to rear, forming Riddle's Close.

N (LAWNMARKET) ELEVATION: squared rubble with polished dressings. Later pilastraded shops to ground; broad red sandstone consoled cornice and rusticated round-arched entrance to pend (GS Aitken, 1895, see Notes) to left. Regularly fenestrated above, small windows to outer right. 3 curvilinear-gabled 2-window wallhead dormers (circular panels in outer dormers) to attic.

RIDDLE'S COURT: rear elevation of Lawnmarket block: projecting octagonal stair tower to right with timber boarded door in bolection-moulded surround with inscribed date (1726); harled exterior to modern flats with deck-access balconies to centre; irregularly fenestrated rubble bays to left. N elevation of 3-storey 16th century wing to S: moulded string courses between ground and 1st and between 1st and 2nd floors. Advanced section to left (jamb of demolished 16th century wing, see Notes) irregularly fenestrated, with timber pentice-roofed external stair (Henbest Capper, 1893). Timber boarded door in roll-moulded surround in splayed corner of re-entrant angle, corbelled out above. Barrel-vaulted pend to Riddle's Close to right, with inscription by Capper (see Notes) over. Timber boarded door to outer right.

RIDDLE'S CLOSE: harled rubble with ashlar dressings. 3-storey 3-bay S-facing elevation: moulded string courses between ground and 1st floor and between 1st and 2nd floors. Round-arched pend from Riddle's Court to left; timber boarded door with small-pane fanlight to centre; small window to right. Regularly fenestrated above. 2-storey 2-bay W-facing elevation: moulded string course stepping up over ground floor windows; steeply gabled dormerheaded windows breaking eaves at 1st floor; wallhead stack with cannon spout to outer right. 3-storey 3-bay N-facing elevation with finialled and pedimented 2-window dormer to attic to right and splayed corner to outer right: moulded string courses to right between ground and 1st floors (treated as bracketed cornice to doors) and between 1st and 2nd floors; small windows to 1st and 2nd floors to outer left (remains of stone hood to former hoist above 1st floor window); 2-leaf timber boarded door to left; timber boarded doors in roll-moulded surrounds to centre and right, and in splayed corner to outer right; paired windows to 1st and 2nd floors to right. 3-storey 2-bay E-facing elevation: irregularly fenestrated; moulded string course between ground and 1st floors; date (1587) over 2nd floor window to left; metal wall plates to upper right.

INTERIOR: SE room: panelled walls; marble chimneypiece; compartmented early/mid 17th century plaster ceiling with curved shapes, squares and circles framing thistles, roses, acorns, fleur-de lys and lions. SW room: panelled walls and bolection-moulded chimneypiece; elaborate compartmented painted ceiling by Thomas Bonnar (restored MM Pryor, 1996 for City of Edinburgh Council); inscription reads 'Restored as acquired S Mitchell and Wilson 1890, SH Capper 1892, GS Aitken 1895, Architects; Ceiling Thomas Bonnar 1897.' NW room: timber panelled walls; corniced mantle to chimneypiece; segmental-arched recess to N; plaster ceiling dated 1648 with plasterwork crown, lions, thistles and roses.

S (VICTORIA TERRACE) ELEVATION: 3-storey and attic 5-bay elevation with crowsteppped dormerheaded windows (that to centre formerly apex stack) breaking eaves at 3rd floor, arcaded to ground floor. Coursed ashlar. Deep cornice to ground floor. Hoodmoulded round-arched openings to arcade; timber panelled doors alternate with windows; scrolled console above doorway at centre. Lugged architraves to windows at 1st and 2nd floors; keyblocked to 1st floor.

18-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to Lawnmarket block; 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to Riddle's Close and Victoria Terrace. Graded grey slates. Tall brick ridge stack to Lawnmarket; vestiges of rubble stacks to Riddle's Close. Cast-iron down pipe with decorative hopper to Victoria Terrace.

Statement of Special Interest

The 18th century block (originally T-plan) facing the Lawnmarket was built by Captain George Riddel, wright. In this block was the first Edinburgh residence of David Hume. The theme of curvilinear gabled wallhead dormers continues on neighbouring tenements. The rear wing of this block was demolished in the late 19th century, leaving the octagonal stair tower isolated. The Dean of Guild plans by GS Aitken show alterations, including the red sandstone pend entrance, done at this time. The remainder was restored as flats in 1958 by John Wilson Paterson for Edinburgh Corporation. To the rear are the remains of 2 L-plan houses built by Baillie John MacMorran circa 1590. James VI and Anne of Denmark were entertained in Baillie MacMorran's house in 1598. The N wing of the E house (illustrated by MacGibbon and Ross) was demolished in the late 19th century, and the S wing forms the N section of Riddle's Close. S Henbest Capper and GS Aitken reconstructed Riddle's Close and Court for Patrick Geddes (who owned the buildings) as University Hall in 1892-3. VIVENDO DISCIMUS (by living we learn), the inscription on the arched pend to Riddle's Close, was the motto of Geddes' University Hall. It was again reconstructed as education rooms for Edinburgh Corporation by J Wilson Paterson in 1964. The rear of Riddle's Close (5 and 6 Victoria Terrace) was rebuilt by George Smith circa 1840 as the Edinburgh Mechanics' Subscription Library. The Mechanic's Library was established in 1825. Contributors to the Library at its inception included Sir James Hall, and the publishers Archibald Constable, William Blackwood, and John Murray. Victoria Street and Terrace were part of Thomas Hamilton's plan for the new Southern and Western Approaches to the city; George Smith replaced Hamilton as architect to the Improvement Trust in 1834.



Dean of Guild 9th October 1890, 17th November 1892 and 18th April and 2nd May 1895. MacGibbon and Ross CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND (1892) pp439-449. Wilson MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH (1891) pp216-220, ill p216. Grant OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH (1885) pp110-110 ill p113. RCAHMS EDINBURGH (1951) No 18. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) p 198.

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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