Possibly late 14th century. Round-cornered, rectangular-plan, 5-storey peel tower with later alterations; internal refurbishment Robert Hurd & Partners, 1978. Harled with polished cream sandstone dressings. Corbelled and crenellated parapet; garret with crowstepped gables, large coped and corniced stacks. Sandstone margins; projecting cills; some iron rails to windows. Square-plan, ogee-capped sundial and walled garden to W; covered rubble well to N.
SW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: decorative wrought-iron hinges to boarded timber door at ground off-set to left of centre; architraved surround; 5-pane fanlight; small single opening at ground in bay to outer right; single window set in rounded corner to outer left. Single window at 1st floor off-set to left of centre; blind in remaining bays to right. 3 single windows irregularly disposed at 2nd floor; slit opening at 3rd floor in bay to outer left; single windows in remaining 2 bays to right.
NE (REAR) ELEVATION: decorative wrought-iron hinges to boarded timber door at ground in bay to outer right; single window in bay to left; blind at ground in remaining bays to left. Small opening aligned at 1st floor above entrance; single window in bay to left; blind in remaining bays to left. Single windows at 2nd floor in bays to outer left and right; smaller single windows aligned at 3rd floor.
NW (SIDE) ELEVATION: small, vesica-shaped opening centred at ground (later 20th century); small single window at 1st floor off-set to left of centre. Blank above.
SE (SIDE) ELEVATION: single windows at ground and 1st floor off-set to right of centre; blind in flanking bays. Small single windows at 2nd and 3rd floors in bays to outer left and right.
Predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; some 4- and 6-pane glazing in smaller lights; lead-hung dormers Grey slate roof; cast-iron rainwater goods; octagonal stone spouts. Crowstepped, coped apex stack to NW; crowstepped, corniced apex stack to SE with square-plan sundial at base inscribed 'P D 1770' (Patrick Douglas), metal gnomon in place; coped wallhead stack to E; various circular cans.
INTERIOR, GROUND FLOOR: whitewashed rubble walls; vault removed. Boarded timber ceiling; timber panelled screen and doors forming partition between kitchen and dining room; former garderobe opening converted for use as cupboard/dumb-waiter. Segmental-arched niche containing stove. Spiral stair to upper floors with stone treads, whitewashed rubble walls. 1ST FLOOR: timber panelled bedroom walls; plain cornice; plain ceiling. Boarded timber lining bathroom walls; deep window recess. 2ND FLOOR: partition removed to form 'great hall' with smaller room to rear. Extensive timber panelling; boarded timber floors; timber panelled shutters in place. Polished red sandstone fireplace with roll-moulded, depressed-arched surround; regularly-spaced coats-of-arms above (outer left dated 1350 (March and Wemyss?), inner left dated 1412 (Swintons), inner right dated 1739 (Morton Douglases), outer right dated 1895 (Smiths), Scottish coat of arms at centre); sandstone fender. Replacement plaster ceiling dated 1979 with decorative cornice and embossed detailing. Square-plan timber columns framing basket-arched entrance to smaller room at rear; plain fireplace; plain cornice. 3RD FLOOR: main bedroom and bathroom. Plain ceilings; deep window recesses. 4TH FLOOR: attic rooms with combed ceilings.
SUNDIAL: rubble plinth surmounted by square-plan sandstone sundial with engaged columns framing decorative panels raised in each facet; metal gnomon in place; 'I F S' inscribed to W; 'A S' inscribed to E; 'Life is a Passing Shadow' embossed below; surmounting ogee-shaped cap with thistle-shaped finial.
GARDEN WALLS: random rubble walls enclosing garden to W.
COVERED WELL: part-rendered rubble; lintel inscribed 'A S' 'I F L'; well within.
Statement of Special Interest
A well preserved, inhabited peel tower thought to date from the later 14th century. Rectangular in plan, it measures 40ft by 26ft and is 65ft high. The rounded corners are particularly interesting, being reminiscent of other late 14th century towers such as Drum or Neidpath. Built by the Swinton family, resident in Cranshaws until the early 18th century, the tower became the stronghold of the Douglases and subsequently, the Douglas Earls of Morton. It was they who were responsible for alterations to the tower during the 18th and 19th centuries. With no indication that there was a kitchen in the main block, it is assumed that ancillary buildings, enclosed by a barmkin, would originally have surrounded the 5-storey structure. The 13th Earl of Morton (1738-68) is said to have removed the ground floor vault so as to increase the space within, and it is possible he also removed the ancillary buildings, leaving the tower as a replanned, re-fenestrated self-contained block. Andrew Smith, an Edinburgh brewer, purchased Cranshaws estate from Lord Aberdour, eldest son of the Earl of Morton in the late 19th century, and work on the tower's parapet is thought to date from this period. Robert Hurd & Partners were commissioned to refurbish the structure in 1978, and little appears to have changed since then. Well detailed both inside and out, there are numerous features which, although not necessarily 14th century, contribute greatly to the whole. The sundial and well within the grounds are inscribed 'A S', 'I F S' and 'A S', 'I F L' respectively, referring to Andrew Smith and Mrs Ida Frances Landale (later Smith). Both their initials can be seen on the nearby gateway to Cranshaws Farm stable courtyard (see separate list entry). Swinton burial ground, thought to date from the 16th century, is set to the SW of the tower.