Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

Bedlam Theatre (Former New North Free Church), Including Boundary Walls, Forrest Road and Bristo Place, EdinburghLB30020

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25734 73219
325734, 673219


Thomas Hamilton, 1846-8; later alterations and additions by J A Scott and A Lorne Campbell, 1903. Prominently sited rectangular-plan Gothic style church with pitch-roofed 5-bay nave, polygonal apse and projecting porch flanked by stair towers to principal elevation facing Y-junction at roadway. Polished grey ashlar. Moulded base course. Square-section cast-iron down pipes with decorative hoppers. Graded grey slates.

NW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: semi-octagonal flat-roofed stair towers with gabletted buttresses at ground level flanking hoodmoulded pointed-arched entrance; 2-leaf timber boarded door with decorative cast-iron hinges; cross-finialled open gablet above continued as blind tracery enfolding upper sections of stair towers. Large hoodmoulded 2-light window with geometric tracery in gable above; decorative pinnacle and niche to apex; octagonal turrets with gabletted pinnacles to corners.

NE (BRISTO PLACE) ELEVATION: 2 storeys separated by moulded courses and linked by parapet above: paired lancets at ground floor, cusped tracery in hoodmoulded 2-light windows above, flanked by gabletted buttresses with semi-octagonal bases. Single storey flat-roofed asymmetrical vestibule adjoining 1st and 2nd bays to SE, with glazed timber door in link, canted windows with small leaded panes and chamfered mullions to NW and NE.

SW (FORREST ROAD) ELEVATION: 2 storeys separated by moulded courses and linked by parapet above: paired lancet windows to ground floor, cusped tracery in hoodmoulded 2-light windows above, flanked by gabletted buttresses with semi-octagonal bases. Shallow finialled, gabletted porch in 2nd bay from right, with 2-leaf timber boarded door in pointed-arched hoodmoulded surround.

INTERIOR (seen 2001): porch with stairs to gallery; 2-leaf timber panelled door with small pane glazing to 5-bay nave; single-span arch-braced roof. U-plan gallery supported by cast-iron columns; hoodmoulded gothic windows with carved headstops. Polygonal apse at SW, closed off at ground floor from nave, lit by small lancets with small-pane diamond glazing; organ loft in pointed-arched recess above: gothic timber screen with decorative niche.

BOUNDARY WALLS: saddle-backed ashlar coping to low coursed sandstone boundary walls.

Statement of Special Interest

A finely detailed, Gothic style, mid-19th century former church by a prominent Scottish architect in a pivotal position at the head of George IV Bridge which makes a strong contribution to the streetscape of the Old Town of Edinburgh.

It is a former place of worship built as the New North Road Church. The closing service of the church took place on 7th November 1937, when the building was gifted to the University of Edinburgh, to be used as the University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy Centre. It is currently used as a student run theatre for Edinburgh University (2011).

This area was just outside the Flodden Wall, and inside the Telfer Wall (1628-36). It was occupied by the Charity Workhouse (to the W of Forrest Road), the Poorhouse for Children and the Bedlam, or lunatic asylum (marked on Kirkwood s 1817 map). The Bedlam was partially housed in the former Darien House (built in 1698 and illustrated in Wilson s Memorials), which had been the offices of the ill-fated Darien Company. The poet Robert Fergusson died in the Bedlam in 1774 at the age of 24, and his physician, Andrew Duncan, campaigned successfully to have the institution closed down.

The planned street triangle of Forrest Road, Bristo Place and Teviot Row was conceived as part of Thomas Hamilton s (1784-1858) vision for the new Southern Approach Road linking Princes Street to George Square and the Meadows (via the Mound, Bank Street and a the new George IV Bridge). This former church is critical in closing the vista south from the Bank of Scotland. Hamilton also designed a church - John Knox s Church (not built) - on Castle Hill, terminating the vista from Princes Street up the Mound.

Thomas Hamilton (1784-1858) was one of the principal Edinburgh architects of the earlier 19th century, an original founder of the Royal Scottish Academy 1826, who made a strong contribution to public and church architecture in Edinburgh. The 1903 Dean of Guild drawings show plans by JA Scott and A Lorne Campbell for the vestry and waiting room to SE, and for the organ chamber to S. Scott and Campbell formed a partnership in 1898 their first executed project being St Stephens UF Church in Stockbridge. The majority of their work together was on ecclesiastical buildings.

List description updated at re-survey 2011-12.

Statutory address updated (2015). Previously listed as 'Forrest Road and Bristo Place, Bedlam Theatre (Former New North Free Church), including boundary walls'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 74107

Dean of Guild (13 August 1846; 4 June 1903).

1st Edition OS Map (1854).

Edinburgh City Archive: Minutes of the Improvement Commissioners. Plans of Western and Southern approaches, NMRS EDD/551-3.

D Wilson Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time (1891).

J Rock, Thomas Hamilton (1984).

J Gifford, C McWilliam and D Walker, Buildings of Scotland, Edinburgh (1984) p166.

Edinburgh's Bedlam Theatre: A History by Several Hands (1991).

Dictionary of Scottish (accessed 2011)

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Northwest Elevation Bedlam Theatre (Former New North Free Church), Including Boundary Walls, Forrest Road and Bristo Place, Edinburgh
Northeast Elevation Bedlam Theatre (Former New North Free Church), Including Boundary Walls, Forrest Road and Bristo Place, Edinburgh

Printed: 19/11/2018 08:55