Listed Building

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

Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Main U-Plan Block, including boundary walls and paired Gatepiers to south, excluding early 20th century former outpatients block to Sylvan Place and excluding all additions to west and north, Sciennes Road, EdinburghLB30480

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25833 72349
325833, 672349


George Washington Browne, 1892-5, with later alterations. Red sandstone U-plan Children s Hospital in Jacobean Renaissance style. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: early 20th century former outpatients block to Sylvan Place and excluding all additions to west and north.

Prominent 3-storey and attic 5-bay central entrance block comprising paired advanced box-bay sections with shaped Dutch gables and flanking recessed 2-bay, 3-storey sections. Large paired symmetrical 6-bay, 3-storey wings which extend forward to the south culminating in paired octagonal corner turrets creating the central entrance courtyard. Ground floor cill course, dentilled cornice. Central doorway with triumphal arched porch between advanced gabled bays, large segmental pediment with tympanum containing elaborate florate arms of Scotland.

The advanced 3-storey gabled bays have 3 close-grouped windows at each floor and shaped gabled returns with gablehead stacks. 5-bay rear elevation with broad curved bay windows at centre ground rising to 2nd floor and slim shaped gable roof dormers. The east wing has a decorative memorial plaque with the inscription "The Lady Caroline Charteris Wing. Erected in loving memory of a beautiful and beneficient life by her sister Lady Jane Dundas 1892-1895".

Red sandstone ashlar, with later alterations in similar stonework to main block. Predominantly aluminium framed windows. Multi-pane windows to canted bays to rear.

The interior of the main hospital building was seen in 2014 and largely retains its original plan form to the ward areas although it has been altered internally for modern hospital use with standard finishes dating to the late 20th century. The only significant surviving interior detail to the main block is the main entrance lobby and inner hall which retains its original plan form with double doors and decorative timber glazed fanlights and cornicing. The attic floor has a stair with turned timber bannisters and a cast iron fireplace.

Highly decorated boundary wall to south entrance elevation enclosing courtyard, comprising low coursed rubble walls to centre with tall ballustraded frieze and pair of symmetrical gateways with squared columns capped by tall three tired pyramidal caps on ball feet. Solid walls extend to either side with 4 round arched details to coping stones. To far right is similarly detailed taller wall which forms the gable of an outbuilding.

Statement of Special Interest

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children (RHSC) is a late 19th century purpose built children s hospital and is a replacement building for the first institution of its type in Scotland. The building is an early significant work by the architect George Washington Browne, a prominent Scottish architect of the period, and has fine Free Renaissance and Baroque stone detailing, such as the entrance porch. It has been extended to the west and north however its late 19th century design and U-plan is discernible, particularly to the entrance elevation, and is a focal point in the urban streetscape which is largely characterised by tenements. The building forms an important architectural group with the Mortuary Chapel (see separate listing) to the northeast.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: 1903 former outpatients block to Sylvan Place and excluding all additions to west and north

The first Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh was founded in 1860 at Meadowside House, 7 Lauriston Lane and it was granted a Royal Charter in 1863. In 1892 Meadowside House was redeveloped to form part of the expanding Royal Infirmary and a new hospital was designed on the south side of Meadows Park for the care of children. It was built on the site of a former villa (Rillbank House) which itself had been used as the Trades Maidens Hospital from 1855. The new hospital building was designed by George Washington Browne and opened on 31st October 1895.

The earlier RHSC of 1860 was pioneering as the first children s hospital in Scotland. Other cities did not build hospitals of this specialised type until later, such as Aberdeen in 1877 and Glasgow and Dundee in 1883.

The commission for the new hospital was won in competition by architect George Washington Browne (1853-1939) and was one of his first large public commissions having had recently set up his own private practice. Browne had already completed the Edinburgh Public Library in 1887 for which he had received notable acclaim however the largely Jacobean/Renaissance styled Royal Hospital for Sick Children can be recognised as the building that fully established his reputation as a prominent and well respected architect in Scotland. A subsequent partnership which ran from circa 1896-1907 with John More Dick Peddie (1853-1921) brought him a large amount of commissions particularly for commercial buildings (including banks) throughout Scotland.

"The Builder" describes the plans in detail on its completion in 1892 : "The main doorway in the central block gives admission to a corridor, which runs E and W along the whole length of the building and at the far end communication with the wards. A cross ventilated corridor cuts off the main building from the wings in which are the sick wards. Each ward is 84 6" x 23 and 15 high and gives accomodation for 24 beds. Similar wards are repeated in the corresponding position on the 1st floor. On the 2nd floor or upper floor are in the E block a spare ward with accomodation for 16 patients; while in the W block on 2nd floor is an observation ward with 4 beds and 2 isolated wards with 1 bed each. There is a total of 118 beds in the new hospital." "Fronting the doorway of the administration block there is a lecture theatre, 25 square which will be fitted with galleries for students. This is repeated on the 1st floor. On the 1st floor are placed the board room, a small museum in connection with the lecture theatre, an opthalmic rooom, and dispensary, the staff dining room and a sitting room for the nurses; while on the 2nd and 3rd floors are located the bedroom accomodation for the head nurses and of the nursing staff generally. On the 3rd floor to the north is placed the kitchen, scullery and servants hall and in the attic or 4th floor are bedrooms for domestics, store rooms etc. The flats are connected with staircases and lifts."

The accident and emergency department (former outpatients department) dating to 1903 and circa 1960 and later additions to the west and north are not considered of special interest in listing terms at time of review in 2015.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2015. Previously listed with the Mortuary Chapel as Sciennes Road, Royal Hospital for Sick Children Including Mortuary and Mortuary Chapel.

The listed building record revised in 2016.





Ordnance Survey. (Surveyed 1893/4, Published 1896) Edinburghshire 003.12. 25 inch to the mile. 2nd Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

Printed sources

Cant, M. (1990) Sciennes and the Grange. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers. p.69.

Gifford, J, McWilliam,C, and Walker,D. (1984) Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh.London: Penguin. p.596

Historic Scotland (2010) Building Up Our Health: The Architecture of Scotland s Historic Hospitals. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland.

The Builder 5th November 1892, p362.

Online sources

The Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Royal Hospital for Sick Children at (accessed on 14 October 2014)

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


Royal Hospital for Sick Children, entrance elevation looking north, during daytime, on clear day with blue sky.
Royal Hospital for Sick Children, entrance elevation looking north, during daytime, on clear day with blue sky.


Map Royal Hospital for Sick Children

Printed: 23/05/2018 11:51