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- Category: B
- Group Category Details: B
- See Notes
- Date Added: 12/12/1974
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 26175 73678
- Coordinates: 326175, 673678
D Cousin & J Lessels, 1869. 3-storey and attic row of gabled, crowstepped, Scots Baronial tenements with shops to ground, incorporating former St Mary's Hall (Nos 16-28, upper storeys) and single-storey, 2-bay, balustraded shop adjoining to left (No 4). Snecked rubble with ashlar margins. Cornice to 2nd storey. Circular corbelled turret at N with pepperpot roof. Pedimented dormers with ball finials breaking wallhead. Some attic windows with strapwork window-heads. 4-panel timber entrance doors with fanlights above.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: former hall with corniced, shallow segmental-arched doorway with corbelled oriel bay window above. Polygonal stair turret to S. Tripartite and bipartite mullioned and transomed windows to 1st storey.
No 10 with symmetrical timber and glass shop front. Timber fascia, mullions and transoms, deep lobby with recessed glass and timber entrance door. Large plate glass windows, curved at lobby corners. Iron gate to lobby.
Other shops with timber fascias, mullions and transoms; some with stone surrounds.
Predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows to upper storeys at flats, diamond-pane pattern to windows to hall. Grey slates. Gable and ridge stacks.
INTERIOR: (partially seen 2007. Hall; comprehensively modernised. Some simple decorative plasterwork, spiral stair.
Statement of Special Interest
B Group with No 2 St Mary's Street and 274-278 Canongate and 30-68 St Mary's Street.
This is a distinctive run of tenement buildings, incorporating a former hall and containing a number of good quality shopfronts. It is a good example of the fashionable Scots Baronial style used for tenements erected in the city as part of the Edinburgh Improvement Scheme. Forming a significant portion of the Eastern side of St Mary's Street, this row, together with Nos 30-68 St Mary's Street (see separate listing) determines the character of the street. The Scots Baronial detailing is of high quality, especially at the corners and at the attic level. The shop front at No 10 is particularly unusual with its deep entrance way and curved plate glass and is an excellent survivor of its type. The single-storey, balustraded shop at No 4, is balanced by a similarly designed building at No 7 Holyrood Road (see separate listing), which is the termination of the design.
St Mary Street was formed as part of the first wave of sanitary improvements within the Old Town of Edinburgh. Living conditions in the Old Town declined during the course of the early 19th century as the wealthier residents moved to the more salubrious New Town. By 1850, the area had one of the worst slums in Europe. The Town Council decided to begin a Sanitary Improvement Scheme and instituted the 1867 Edinburgh Improvement Act. This involved the large-scale clearance, on health grounds, of 34 selected areas of the Old Town, including the old St Mary's Wynd. There was no immediate requirement to build any new houses as part of the scheme until a new agency, the Edinburgh City Improvement Trust, was set up and began a programme of new house building over a 20 year period. St Mary's, Blackfriars and Jeffrey Streets were part of the initial wave of building and were intended for workers and artisans - not for the residents who had previously lived in the area, who were too poor to afford the rents.
St Mary's Halls was built for the nearby St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church (see separate listing). By 1914, it was listed as a cinema called The Star, and this closed in the 1920s. It is currently commercial premises (2007).
John Lesssels (1809-1883) came from a family of builder-architects. With a successful practice in Edinburgh, he became friendly with David Cousin, the City Architect. As a result of the friendship, Lessels was appointed joint architect to the City Improvement Trust in 1866 and the proposals for St Mary Street were presented later that year.
List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08. No 4 St Mary's Street was previously listed separately.
2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1876-9). John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1984. p233. L Rosenburg & J Johnson, Conservative Surgery in Old Edinburgh, 1880-1940 in B Edwards & P Jenkins (eds) Edinburgh, The Making of A Capital City, 2005, pf131. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore database at www.rcahms.go.uk (accessed 20-10-07).
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