John Paris, 1857-9; extensive remodelling, rear hall added; E extension George Washington Browne, 1911; incorporating fagments of late 16th/early17th century fabric. Large 3- and 2-storey complex of civic institution with large frontage to High street and quadrangle with hall to rear. Cream harl with Caen sandstone dressings. Chamfered reveals, ashlar mullions and transoms.
N (HIGH STREET) ELEVATION: 6-bay asymmetrical building with 5-bay extension (1911) to E. Gabled bay to outer left with single windows. Next bay recessed with ground floor infill of 5-light transomed window with stepped blocking course; single windows above, 2nd floor window breaking eaves in gabled dormer-head with blank panel. 3 centre bays with regular fenestration , 2nd floor windows breaking eaves as above; at ground floor broad hood-moulded segmental-arched pend opening flanked by hoodmoulded window to left and single storey bay window with tripartite transom window and stepped blocking course to right; 3 timber dormers; corbelled corner turret with fishscale slating to roof to outer right. Bay to outer right with square projecting tower with single windows and ogival roof over stone bracketted eaves. 1911 extension with shops at ground floor; 1st floor with bipartite transomed windows divided by shallow stone buttresses, crenellated parapet with empty stone niches, mock canon spouts and small bartizan to outer right. Recessed, blank 2nd floor.
S (REAR) ELEVATION: 2 bays to right advanced with cahmfered corner detail surmounted by small turret. Irregular fenestration. Segmetal-arched pend opening with doorway inside, hoodmoulded over inscription 'Chambers Institution'.
E (COURTYARD) ELEVATION: single storey and attic with tall central grooved crowstepped wallhead stack. Small single storey bay window to outer right; 2 large single storey projecting bays with tall parapets and 4-light transomed windows. 2 carved panels set in wall. 7 slanting attic windows with arched heads.
HALL (S COURTYARD) ELEVATION: 5-bay hall with elaborate projecting ashlar entrance to outer right, roll-moulded doorway surmounted by extensively carved foliate and armorial panel; 5-sided turret with swept pyramidal roof set in re-entrant angle with E range above. Ground floor of hall obscured by single storey timber lean-to addition (formerly open loggia). 4 tall segmental-arched keystoned windows above. gable elevations of hall with large semi-circular windows with scrolled hoodmould and radial astragals.
W COURTYARD: war memorial (listed seperately).
Timber sash amd case windows, mostly 2-pane upper sashes and 4-pane lower sashes, some 12-pane glazing, some leaded lights. Slate roofs with metal flashings. Moulded gutterheads.
INTERIOR: interior features include picture gallery with coved, ribbed ceiling with central skylight; long gallery in roof space with braced panelled roof housing 62ft section cast of the Elgin marbles and a complete facsimile of the 'Triumph of Alexander' frieze by the Danish sculptor Bertil Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) and a further galleried exhibition room with timber panelling.
Statement of Special Interest
William Chambers of Dictionary fame, a native of peebles, gave the Institution to the burgh with the purpose of 'social improvement'. It contained a library, reading room art gallery and museum. Before its extensive remodelling the Chambers Institution was known as 'Queensberry Lodging' or 'Dean's House' and the central portion of today's building probably dates from the 16th or 17th century. But only the thickness of the walls and the part vaulted basement of the
central block indicate any antiquity.