John Brough, 1784; subsequent alterations and additions (see below); whole refurbished by Hurd Rolland and Partners, 1985-90. 4 distinct 3-storey attic and basement former classical houses with set back links and unifying mutuled cornice; now united as BBC studios and offices
(No 4 was 2 houses, formerly Nos 3 and 4; No 6 is pair to No 7, see separate listing). Droved cream sandstone ashlar, badly scarred to
Nos 4 and 6.
NO 4, E HOUSE (FORMER NO 3): 3-bay. Steps to former door to right with moulded architrave and consoled cornice; now blocked as window; steps oversailing basement survive but access denied by railings. Large tripartite timber box dormer with pilasters, cornice and central pediment. Small gabled hall to rear by David Bryce, 1859-60.
W HOUSE: 3-bay; moulded architraves. At left, platt oversailing basement area to deep-set cavetto moulded doorpiece with consoled cornice and 2-leaf panelled door, plate glass fanlight; tripartite window to right at ground with panelled frieze and cornice. Dormer as above. 3-bay gabled hall with arched windows to rear by David Bryce, 1849-51.
Further alterations were carried out by G Washington Browne.
NO 5: 5 bays recast by J Dick Peddie, 1847-8; further alterations by Archibald Scott, 1857, and Kinnear & Peddie, 1880. Moulded architraves, corniced at ground and 1st floors; band course above 1st floor. Pedimented neo-Greek porch at centre, with 2-leaf panelled doors. 3 piend-roofed timber dormers..
NO 6: 3-bay. To right, architraved doorpiece with cavetto reveals, consoled cornice, replacement panelled door and plate glass letterbox fanlight. Segmental-headed bipartite timber dormer to left.
6-bay hall added to rear of Nos 5 and 6 by Dick Peddie.
Timber sash and case 12-pane windows (casements to large dormers). Grey slates; ashlar-coped mutual skews; coped ashlar stacks.
INTERIOR: all 4 properties very considerably refurbished, integrated and adapted to BBC use. Front rooms have largely been kept intact with some panelled dados and chimneypieces; notably Boardroom in No 5, with fine carved chimneypiece, and former Drawing Room in No 6, with an original plain moulded marble chimneypiece. Former Reading Room to rear of No 3 has been much altered and divided; hall to rear of No 4 with floor inserted at gallery level but retains open timber roof and some balustrading. Principal glory is Dick Peddie's Synod Hall, cube within Greek cross with stairs in each corner; proscenium arch, anthemion freize, panelled coved ceiling supporting 2-tier lantern (covered over but still intact), and galleries to sides and rear.
RAILINGS: cast-iron spearhead railings; plain wrought-iron railings to No 5.
Statement of Special Interest
The Philosophical Institution acquired No 4 in 1846 for £2,800, adding the galleried hall to the rear soon after. They then purchased No 3 in 1858, adding a further galleried reading room. Meanwhile in 1847 No 5, and at least the garden of No 6, had been purchased and considerably extended by the addition of the sumptuous hall by the United Association Synod of the Secession Church, subsequently becoming the United Presbyterian Synod Hall and Divinity College. After the Church moved to Castle Terrace, the hall was used as among other things Edinburgh's earliest cinema, and a night club; the BBC bought it in 1930, and it is now the oldest BBC office in Britain. The YMCA had acquired the Philosophical Institution in 1940, selling it in the 1950s to the BBC. The whole site was completely refurbished, integrated and provided with new studios by Harry Bunch of Hurd Rolland, being opened by the Secretary of State in 1990. No 6 displays raggles of former enrichments at ground, including a pediment uniting it with No 7. A significant surviving part of the original fabric of Edinburgh's New Town, one of the most important and best preserved examples of urban planning in Britain; Queen Street was built to take advantage of the northern views, and has survived remarkably unaltered to this day.
References and notes updated as part of the Cinemas Thematic Study 2007-08.