Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

Perth Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, Tay Street, PerthLB39325

Status: Designated

Documents

There are no additional online documents for this record.

Summary

Category
A
Date Added
20/05/1965
Last Date Amended
09/09/2015
Local Authority
Perth And Kinross
Planning Authority
Perth And Kinross
Burgh
Perth
NGR
NO 12062 23391
Coordinates
312062, 723391

Description

Sir Robert Smirke, 1819. Exceptional single-storey, 13-bay, E-plan Greek Revival court house with monumental and advanced Greek Doric octostyle portico with 10 pillar colonnade. Pale polished sandstone, ashlar to principal elevation, squared and snecked whinstone to rear. Base course; entablature with triglyphed frieze, eaves cornice and blocking course. Shallow steps to central portico with fluted columns lead to trio of heavy panelled 2-leaf timber entrance doors behind with round-arched fanlights. Pilasters divide flanking paired windows with attic openings above. 3-bay outer sections with architraved and corniced windows and pilastered corner angles. 3 bays to side (north and south) elevations with round-arched tripartite windows with pilaster mullions.

Predominantly 15-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows. Grey slate. Coped stacks with clay cans. Cast iron rainwater goods.

The interior, seen in 2014, is arranged around a central, west facing courtroom (courtroom 1) on the first floor. Excellent and largely intact 1860s decorative scheme. Entrance hall with dominant, T-plan Arbroath stone staircase with stone parapets and shouldered arches under side landings. Hall lit by central lantern light. Courtroom 1 retains much of its 1866 furniture and fittings and is square in plan with clerestorey lighting and a timber panelled gallery supported on cast-iron columns. Long timber panelled bench with full-length sounding board supported on corbelled brackets. Raked pew seating, and timber jury box and witness stand. Dock with covered hatch over stairs leading to cells below. Timber dado lining, coffered ceiling with rosettes and central ventilator. Courtroom 2 with timber furniture and bench recess in alcove. Former Assembly Room in south wing retains Smirke scheme with remarkable white marble Greek Doric chimney piece with eagles holding mantelpiece. Panelled ceiling; arcaded walls. Many timber panelled doors and some decorative cornicing. Vaulted strongroom with fitted timber shelving units. Vaulted cells to basement.

Statement of Special Interest

Perth Sheriff Court dates to 1819 and is an outstanding example of Greek Revival architecture by the eminent London architect Sir Robert Smirke. It is situated on one of the major routes through Perth overlooking the River Tay to the East and is a significant piece of early 19th century civic architecture. The court is remarkable in retaining much decoration and fittings from the 19th century in particular an almost complete 1867 courtroom interior.

Perth Sheriff Court was built by Sir Robert Smirke in 1819 to replace the county and court functions of the old Tolbooth, and was remodelled internally in 1867 by David Smart. The building was first planned by Robert Reid as a county building with a jail to the rear. The jail was built, but the commission for the County Buildings went to Sir Robert Smirke. The building cost £32,000 and housed the justiciary court, a sheriff court and a county hall, together with associated judges' rooms, witness' rooms, and offices. The county hall is now office accommodation. The pillars used for the monumental portico were initially designed for Broomhall House in Fife, as part of an unexecuted portico there.

There was originally an underground passage linking the jail to the court. The jail to the rear was demolished in the 1960s and only part of the exercise yard wall remains.

Sir Robert Smirke (1780-1867) was one of the foremost architects of Greek Revival architecture in Britain. Based primarily in London, he started his practice in 1806 and was immediately successful, both for public and private clients. He is noted for building the first Greek Doric portico in Britain at the Covent Garden Theatre (1808-9). His work includes the British Museum (1823) and the Royal College of Physicians in Trafalgar Square (1822-5). Perth Sheriff Court was his only public building in Scotland.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and the provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date. The design of court houses in the early 19th century tended towards neoclassical or Renaissance styles to convey their status as important public buildings.

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Tay Street, Sheriff Court'.

References

Bibliography

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/canmore.html CANMORE ID 159771.

Thomson, J. and Johnson, W. Map (1820) Perth City Archives.

Wood, J. (1823) Plan of the city of Perth from Actual Survey. Edinburgh: J Wood.

Unknown (1824). Guide to Perth. 4th Edition. p.9-10.

The Scottish Civic Trust (1983) Historic Buildings at Work. Glasgow: The Scottish Civic Trust. p.217-218.

Haynes, N. (2000) Perth and Kinross, An Architectural Guide. Edinburgh: The Rutland Press. p.14.

Gifford, J. (2007) The Buildings of Scotland: Perth and Kinross. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. p.609.

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report. at http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/scottish-courts-preliminary-report.pdf.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Robert Smirke at http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200349 [accessed 22 October 2014].

Other information courtesy of Scottish Court Service (2014).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

Perth Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, north and east elevation, looking southwest, during daytime on an overcast day and with traffic lights in the foreground.
Interior of courtroom 1, Perth Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court.

Printed: 22/05/2019 07:58