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 24054 73906
324054, 673906


Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, 1883'6 with later repairs and rennovation 2009. 4- and 5-storey with some attics; significant complex of 54 flats and separate former common hall (Woodbarn Hall), Renaissance Freestyle. Roughly rectangular plan set around central courtyard, in picturesque setting beside the Water of Leith. Coursed squared rubble with red sandstone dressings. Deep overhanging eaves; various crowstepped and shaped gables, some advanced. Large round arched pend to N with red sandstone dressings and red brick vault. Roughly regular fenestration, with some bipartite windows. Some rectangular dormers to attic with catslide roofs.

Predominantly small pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Pitched roof with some catslides; red clay tiles. Coped rubble gable end and ridge stacks, predominantly modern cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: characterised by a series of small flats accessed off common stairs. Large arched openings to landings with cast-iron railings incorporating thistle pattern to spikes. Stairs predominantly brick with curved handrails. Flats predominantly 1 or 2 rooms with small kitchens and bathrooms.

WOODBARN HALL: large detached rectangular plan hall with central tower. Moulded cill course at 1st floor. Prominent corbelled canted transomed and mullioned 4-light bays to S with tall conical tiled roofs. Roughly regular fenestration. TOWER: large tower to centre with prominent clock-face to S and E sides; corbelled crenellated parapet; arcaded timber louvers above with shaped leaded roof and cast-iron weathervane.

BOUNDARY WALLS: coursed random rubble with sandstone ashlar copes.

Statement of Special Interest

Well Court is a fine example of a picturesque composition, exploiting its prominent site on the Water of Leith. It forms a significant example of 19th century social housing, designed by a high profile architect, A G Sydney Mitchell. The building was commissioned by John R Findlay, the proprietor of the Scotsman newspaper, as social housing for artisans and tradesmen from the Dean Village. The flats were leased for affordable rents in return for the tenants respecting rules of temperance and attendance at Church on Sundays. The design had several other social measures, including the provision of a common hall for reading and recreation. A factor's house was also placed in the central courtyard. The building was an act of social benefaction on the part of Findlay, to help the occupants of the Dean Village after the large mills which had sustained the population began to move out of the area in the late 19th century. The building also had a significant function in improving the amenity of the area and took account of earlier traditional buildings in the area. Findlay's house at 3 Rothesay Terrace (see separate listing) overlooked the Dean Village, and Well Court.

Arthur George Sydney Mitchell was an important Scottish architect of the later 19th century. The work for Well Court and 3 Rothesay Terrace were amongst the earliest of his commissions in independent practice and some of the best examples of his major residential works. Mitchell met Findlay through his father who was an eminent public figure. Shortly afterwards (again possibly through the influence of his father) Mitchell was appointed the architect to the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Later, after taking on George Wilson as a partner the practice also became architects to the Board of Lunacy for Scotland. Mitchell was an excellent designer, equally comfortable with public and private works and a master at combining various architectural styles.

A programme of repair and renovation was completed in 2009 with the assistance of Edinburgh World Heritage.

List description revised as part of resurvey (2009).



Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan (1893-4); J G Bartholomew, Plan of Edinburgh and Leith, from Survey Atlas of Scotland, (1912); J Gifford, C McWilliam, D M Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p. 394; RCAHMS 81580 PO, Ink Plans, (1889).

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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Printed: 02/06/2023 18:57