Statement of Special Interest
186 and 188 High Street is a significant building in the streetscape of the High Street. Dating from the early 19th century, it is part of the development of the historical and economic development of Elgin, showing the prosperity of the burgh at this time. For its date it has distinctive classical architectural details, such as the first floor window surrounds. The survival of the stone shopfront, with moulded architraves is particularly unusual. The building is an integral part of the historic town centre, with its width reflecting the historic burgage plot.
Age and Rarity
Medieval burgh settlements patterns are an important part of Scotland's history. They comprise a principal street with long and narrow burgage plots running at right angles to it, in a herringbone pattern. The High Street is Elgin's historic core and it is a very well-preserved example of a burgh settlement pattern. 186 and 188 High Street is an integral part this.
Elgin Castle, the remains of which are a scheduled monument (SM1229), became a royal fortress in the 12th century and this resulted in the development of a settlement to its east. This settlement was laid out with as many as 100 long, narrow burgage plots running at right-angles to the High Street. (Wright, p10-11)
Along these narrow burgage plots, or rigs, long rectangular buildings were constructed, accessed by pends or closes. This arrangement can be seen on John Slezer's 1693 drawing 'The Prospect of the House and Town of Elgine' which is a view of the Elgin from the north.
Although there would have been 16th or 17th century buildings in the same location, the town plan of 1822 shows the site of 184 High Street, 186 and 188 High Street laid out as it is today. This map indicates that Mr Lyle is the landowner.
The early 19th century was a period of significant prosperity for Elgin and this was reflected in its built fabric. Forsyth in his 1798 book 'The Survey of the Province of Moray' notes that houses in Elgin, which at this point was one principal street – the High Street - are in 'either new or of improved, according to the modern ideas of handsome accommodation' (quoted in Wright, p.20). In the 19th century new roads were laid out and new civic buildings built. Many of the buildings with frontages along the High Street were either rebuilt or extensively remodelled.
The new buildings along the High Street followed the medieval burgage plots. The width of a number of buildings fronting the High Street, particularly at the west end, reflects the width of the original plots. This can be seen at 186 and 188 High Street The original building on this site would have had a gable end facing the street, but examples of this on the High Street are rare.
The buildings fronting the High Street were typically shops or commercial properties, often with private accommodation above. In Russell's Morayshire Register of 1850, 186 and 188 High Street are recorded as being in use by William and Francis Nicoll, Silk Mercers, Woollen Drapers and Haberdashers. The 1851 census record for 188 and 186 High Street records the five siblings of Nicolls and a servant at this address. In Black's Morayshire Directory of 1863 this business was recorded at 132 High Street and John Mackissack, Grocers was now the occupant of 186 and 188 High Street.
To the rear of these buildings are long and narrow plots occupied by long buildings, typically two storeys and one room deep. These rear plots, or backlands, are accessed by pends, wynds or closes from the High Street.
This is seen at 186 and 188 High Street where a pend provides access to 184 High Street, a narrow row of buildings that follows the historic burgage plot.
The pattern of the street layout, the burgage plots and their closes, are characteristic of Scottish burghs. They are fundamental features of Elgin and are of considerable significance. This medieval herringbone pattern is clearly seen in aerial photographs and views of Elgin from Ladyhill.
All buildings erected before 1840 which are of notable quality and survive predominantly in their original form have a strong case for listing. 186 and 188 High Street is a significant building in the streetscape of the High Street. Dating from the early 19th century it is relatively unaltered and one of the few surviving early 19th street frontages. For its date it has distinctive classical architectural details. It is an integral part of the historic town centre, with its width reflecting the historic burgage plot, and it shows the prosperity of the burgh in the early 19th century.
Architectural or Historic Interest
Much of the interior fabric has been lost in the ground floor rooms. The first floor has only been partially seen so cannot be fully assessed. The moulded cornice that partially survives is not exceptional.
The footprint of the building reflects the width of the original burgage plot and this is of interest.
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
Classical style town architecture became highly fashionable in the late 18th century, particularly in Edinburgh. The influence of this type of architecture spread to other regions in Scotland by the early 19th century. 186 and 188 High Street is evidence of the growing popularity of classical architecture in Scotland and indicates the ambition of the town at the period, where prosperity helped to promote the use of fashionable styles of architecture.
For its date, 186 and 188 High Street has distinctive classical architectural details. These include the corniced first floor window surrounds and the blocking course. The survival of the stone shopfront, with moulded architraves is particularly unusual, as many shopfronts became altered and modernised. The relative lack of alteration to the street elevation and the survival of its overall early 19th century character that shows its former functional use is of interest in listing terms.
Adjoining the rear elevation of 186 and 188 High Street is 184A, 184B and 184C High Street and together these buildings form a good group of traditional burgh buildings. Nineteenth century directories and census records indicate that these buildings are historically related, with occupants in No 184 working in the shops of Nos 186 and 188. They are an integral part of the historic town centre and their survival is important in illustrating the medieval herringbone layout of the burgh.
186 and 188 High Street is a significant building in the streetscape of the High Street, and it one of the few surviving and relatively unaltered early 19th street frontages. The built fabric of Elgin High Street is particularly distinctive in Scotland. A handful of 17th century buildings survive, including 7 High Street (see separate listing, LB30720). Many of the buildings along the High Street were rebuilt from the mid 19th century as the town became increasingly prosperous. The survival of 186 and 188 High Street is part of the historical and economic development of this burgh.
There is no known regional variation.
Close Historical Associations
There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2018).
Statutory address, category of listing changed from B to C and listed building record revised in 2018. Previously listed as '184, 186, 188 High Street'.
Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 193976 and 265700
Slezer, J. (1693) The Prospect of the House and Town of Elgine.
Roy, W. (1747-52) Military Survey of Scotland – Highlands.
Wood, J. (1822) Plan of the Town of Elgin from actual survey.
Parliament: House of Commons (1832) Great Reform Act Plans and Reports - Elgin (Elginshire).
Ray, R. (1838) Plan of the Burgh of Elgin from actual survey.
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1871, published 1871) Elginshire VII.16 (Elgin, St Andrews Lhanbryd and Spynie) 25 inch. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1904, published 1905) Elginshire VII.16 (Elgin; Spynie; St Andrews Lhanbryd) 25 inch. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (1965) 1:1250 Map. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (1973) 1:2500 Map. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (1988) 1:1250 Map. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Ancestry. 1851 Census Transcriptions for 186 and 188 High Street, and Off High Street Close 186 at www.ancestry.com (accessed 17/07/2018).
Ancestry. 1861 Census Transcriptions for 184 High Street at www.ancestry.com (accessed 17/07/2018).
Ancestry. 1871 Census Transcriptions for 184 High Street (Close) at www.ancestry.com (accessed 17/07/2018).
National Library of Scotland. Russell's Morayshire Register 1850 at https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/85234893 (accessed 17/07/2018).
National Library of Scotland. Black's Morayshire Directory 1863 at https://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/archive/85596868 (accessed 17/07/2018).
Wright, A.P.K et al (February 2012). Elgin High Street Conservation Area: Part 1: Conservation Area Appraisal at http://www.moray.gov.uk/downloads/file85091.pdf (accessed 05/07/2018).
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Printed: 19/08/2022 15:17