Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 27206 70876
327206, 670876


Late 18th century with later alterations and additions. Single storey with attic, 3-bay rectangular-plan traditional house. Sandstone and red sandstone rubble with droved sandstone dressings; quoins and long and short surrounds; coped skews; modern box dormers.

E (FRONT) ELEVATION: symmetrical; infilled doorway to centre at ground; evidence of gabled entrance porch addition visible, including low rendered brick wall in front of doorway; bipartite windows with block cills to flanking bays. Box dormers to all bays at roof, with slate aprons to central one.

N (SIDE) ELEVATION: 3-bay; corrugated-iron roof to lean-to porch at ground; single window to centre, with block cill; infilled doorways with wooden lintels to bays flanking; pair of windows to 1st floor above.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: 2-bay; widely spaced infilled doorways at ground; closely spaced windows with block cills to 1st floor.

W (REAR) ELEVATION: irregularly fenestrated; box dormer to roof at left; coped rubble wall adjoining at right.

Window openings and doorways blocked, dormers boarded; grey slate roof with leaded ridge; coped gablehead stacks with moulded cylindrical cans; cast-iron gutters, downpipes missing.

INTERIOR: Probably original fielded 6-panelled doors; later 19th century fireplaces to bedrooms; remains of decorative painted scheme and canvas floorcloth surrounds to NE and S bedrooms; remains of hand - printed wallpaper and decorative schemes, particularly to hall, stairs and landing, probably mid to later 19th century; original floorboards; hand-tooled rafters and broad sarking boards to roof; alterations include insertion of box-dormers, new staircase, re - plastering and replacement / new cornices to several rooms.

Statement of Special Interest

18th century house, inhabited until the early 1990s. Liberton Bank House is of special historic interest owing to its association with two important Scots, Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Burton.

Conan Doyle stayed at Liberton Bank House for a time in the mid-late 1860s, having been sent there - according to Owen Dudley Edwards, author of the standard Conan Doyle biography - to protect him from the negative influences of his alcoholic father and, no doubt, to facilitate his attendance at the nearby Newington Academy at 8 Arniston Place. He spent the years between the ages of seven and nine, 1866 and 1868, at this school, run by James M'Lauchlan, and the Evening Dispatch of 28 September 1900 refers to his 'lively recollections' of its headmaster.

Concrete evidence of Conan Doyle's stay exists in the form of a book, Travels in the Interior of Africa by Mungo Park, inscribed: 'Arthur Conan Doyle / With Papa's and Mama's / love and best wishes / New Year's day 1866 / Liberton Bank'. This is further substantiated by reference, made by the author's youngest son, Adrian (then custodian of the Conan Doyle MSS, which are now, and have been for several decades, inaccessible), in The True Conan Doyle (1946), to his father's boyhood in the 'modest domicile of Liberton Bank'.

At Liberton Bank he was in the care of Mary Burton, tenant of the house for more than fifty years, from 1844-1898. Mary Burton was a trailblazing educational and social reformer, the first woman Governor of Heriot-Watt College and a leading advocate of women's suffrage. Her efforts in the field of educational equality and access led her to bequeath, with foresight, a sum towards the campaign "for the admission of women to sit as members of parliament", either at Westminster or in a Scottish Parliament. She was sister of the lawyer and historian, John Hill Burton, with whose son, William K Burton, Conan Doyle became great friends whilst living in the Bank House. This friendship had significance for several of the writer's stories, mostly by virtue of Burton's subsequent career as an engineer: in this capacity he was in a position to provide background information for 'The Engineer's Thumb', and his tenure of an academic post in that subject in Japan offered a convenient source on which Conan Doyle could draw when composing 'Jelland's Voyage'. His debt to his old friend is most openly acknowledged in the dedication to 'The Firm of Girdlestone'.

Mary Burton's strong attachment to Liberton Bank House was - clearly evinced in the interview in The Young Woman magazine. Burton's direct association with the property together with the association of Conan Doyle at a time when he was writing his first story (about a man and a tiger), together, give the house its unique status.

The category of listing recognises the modest architectural interest and altered state of the house in conjunction with its association with two of Edinburgh's most famous offspring.



John Hill Burton papers (National Library of Scotland), MS.9416, No 136; PO Directories 1844-98; Censuses 1871 (head of family recorded as absent), 1881; Sarah Tooley, 'A Slum Landlady: an Interview with Miss Mary Hill Burton' in THE YOUNG WOMAN magazine, vol IV, 1895-96, pp 164-168; EDINBURGH EVENING DISPATCH, 28 September 1900; Adrian Conan Doyle, THE TRUE CONAN DOYLE (1946), p9; Owen Dudley Edwards, THE QUEST FOR SHERLOCK HOLMES: A BIOGRAPHICAL STUDY OF ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (1983), pp 57-58, 359. Information courtesy of Heriot Watt University (Mary Burton).

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 20/11/2018 16:01