Late 16th century urban laird's house with subsequent minor alterations. T-plan with 3-storey 4-bay oblong hall block and square 4-storey stair tower abutting to the E, forming stroke of T. Exposed rubble with dressings of local yellow, grey and red freestone; relieving arches to most windows; crowstepped gabled with gablehead stacks. Hall block with swept-roofed dormers breaking eaves.
W (QUEEN STREET) ELEVATION: regular 3-storey 4-bay front, centre bays grouped together. Blank at ground, except for small windows at centre and to right; arched pend to far right with hoodmould; recarved 17th century panel of arms above in much later frame, displacing 1st floor window to left. Windows to all bays of 1st and 2nd floors; 2nd floor windows breaking eaves with swept dormerheads.
N ELEVATION: gabled right jamb advanced; blank except for small window to 1st floor to left, created in blocked opening with relieving arch; gablehead stack. Jamb to left at right angles, with small windows at 1st and 3rd floors.
E ELEVATION: advanced gabled 4-storey tower at centre, with small window to all floors except ground; gablehead stack. Flanking recessed 3-storey range; to left, shallow arched pend at ground and small window to right, large window at 1st floor, 2nd floor with half-dormer as above; in reentrant angle round stair tower to upper floors corbelled out above ground floor, conical roof with iron ball finial; to right, 2 windows at ground; left section of wall above corbelled out to accomodate fireplace, window inserted at 1st floor and later blocked; window to right at 1st floor; large pibartite half-dormer to 2nd floor, as above (timber mullion).
S ELEVATION: blank advanced gable to left, with blocked door to right and small window to left at ground; gablehead stack. Tower to right with door at ground, small windows to upper floors; stair tower in reentrant angle as above.
Windows a variety of timber sash and case and casement. Grey slates; coped dressed rubble stacks. Corbel skews.
INTERIOR: heavily restored and converted to museum/ visitor centre by Page and Park Architects, Glasgow, 1986; door created in N wall of pend giving access to vaulted entrance lobby, vaulted rubble hall beyond with projecting fireplace at N end; spacious scale and platt stair terminating at 1st floor, continuing as left-handed turret stair; large 1st floor room plastered with continuous corbel course on long walls supporting ceiling; fireplaces on N and E walls, latter with corbelled lintel; smaller room to S with much restored panelling; 2nd floor rooms with modern tongue and groove panelling, small fireplace with corbelled lintel in NE corner, coombed ceiling.
BOUNDARY WALLS AND OUTBUILDINGS: ashlar saddleback coped rubble boundary wall; lowered at front of house to Queen Street, with cast-iron railings; similar gates. Rubble lean-to shed with corrugated iron roof abutts wall at S of site, close to temporary toilet enclosure. There is a Victorian cast-iron street lamp to the immediate N of the house, in its garden.
Statement of Special Interest
The house probably became part of a continuous street, explaining the openings on the N and S walls, and more particularly the pend, which would have been created to give access to the door. Other major alterations include the abandonment of the original fireplace at the 1st floor in the 17th century and the creation of a new one in the N wall; the top courses of stair turret were altered at the end of the 19th century, perhaps when the thatch was removed; the thatch was replaced
by red tiles, these in turn being replaced by slates in the recent restoration. The arms in the panel are of Wigmer and Scott, and this, combined with the late date of the building suggest that it is very unlikely that this is where Mary stayed (she rented her accommodation from Lady Ferniehurst, who was not a Scott, in 1566). The house was purchaed by F S Oliver of Edgerston in 1928 and presented to the town; preservation and restoration was carried out by J Wilson Paterson of H M Office of Works (including reopening the pend and laying out the garden), and it was opened as a museum by Mrs Oliver on 28th August 1930.