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.


Status: Designated


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Group Category Details
Date Added
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Planning Authority
Orkney Islands
Walls And Flotta
ND 27036 89273
327036, 989273


Possibly 1738. W R Lethaby, circa 1898 and 1900 additions. Repair work, 2000. Rectangular-plan walled garden incorporating circa 1898 tea-house and 1900 chapel, both by W R Lethaby, and earlier doocot. Tall, exposed random rubble walls; flat wallhead. N corner harled on exterior of wall and surmounted by ball finial. Opening in E wall; plain doorway to SE and W; timber boarded doors.


2-storey, square-plan tea-house in SE angle of kitchen garden. Apple-house to ground floor; tea-house at upper floor. Exposed sandstone rubble; dressed sandstone surrounds to openings.

E ELEVATION: forestair to exterior of kitchen garden wall; plain timber hand rail. 1st floor door to left; leaded window to right.

S ELEVATION: 1st floor tripartite window. Square-plan stack to left rises from garden wall and breaks eaves.

W ELEVATION: ground floor door to left; 1st floor tripartite window to right.

N ELEVATION: ground floor leaded window; 1st floor tripartite window above.

Stone mullions to tripartite windows; leaded windows to outer lights in N facing tripartite window. Timber boarded door. Conical slated roof. Pole with weathervane in inner angle of garden wall.

INTERIOR: floorboards to tea-house; timber panelled walls. Window cills to each window; decorative timber panel above 1 window. Timber benches; central timber table and chairs. Fireplace in SW angle; sandstone surround and mantel; green glazed tiles to fire jambs.


2-storey, square-plan doocot in SW angle of kitchen garden. Rubble stone; harling. Shed to ground floor; doocot above.

E ELEVATION: ground floor door to right.

S ELEVATION: not seen, 2000.

W ELEVATION: plain elevation.

N ELEVATION: central ground floor window; 1st floor door.

Windows and doors now gone, 2000. Conical roof; stone slates.

INTERIOR: stone nesting boxes.


Low rubble wall encloses rookery to S of kitchen garden. Approach to Melsetter House from the SE; driveway bordered by dry stone wall; pair of circular sandstone gatepiers; conical coping stone; ball finial. Identical pair of gatepiers to W to roadway. Dry stone walls border roadway leading to steading; curved W wall echoes quadrant gatepiers to Laundry House (see separate List Description).

Statement of Special Interest

A-Group with Melsetter House, Chapel, Walled Garden, Lodge and Gatepiers, Burial Enclosure, Estate Office, Gardener's Cottage, The Hall, Laundry House and Spinning Cottage. The Kitchen Garden is situated to the SE of Melsetter House. Lethaby retained but heightened the walls of the earlier garden and added the tea-house tower to match the existing doocot. The garden is currently grassed over and the doocot is redundant, however, the tea-house remains in use. Lethaby was one of the most prominent exponents and promoters of the Arts and Crafts movement. Thomas Middlemore, a Birmingham industrialist bought the Melsetter Estate in 1898. At that time it comprised the entire island of Hoy, as well as the adjacent smaller islands of South Walls, Fara and Rysa. Melsetter had been the home of the Moodie family from the late 16th century until around the earlier 19th century. The majority of the remaining structures at Melsetter were retained by Lethaby, although greatly modified. The remodelling/construction of the house and surround buildings at Melsetter was one of Lethaby's most important commissions. It is unusual in that it involved the redevelopment of an entire complex of buildings, which form a harmonious whole. The designed landscape at Melsetter is significant, it has outstanding scenic and architectural interest and is included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.



1st Edition OS 25" Map (CXXII.8), 1881; Land Use Consultants, AN INVENTORY OF GARDENS & DESIGNED LANDSCAPES IN SCOTLAND, Vol 3, 1985, pp125-130; G Rubens, WILLIAM RICHARD LETHABY, 1986, pp129-140, 148-154; L Burgher, ORKNEY, 1991, pp75-76; J Gifford, HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS, 1992, p343; T Garnham, MELSETTER HOUSE in ARTS & CRAFTS HOUSES I, 1999.

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 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.

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 and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but 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. 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 advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 21/03/2019 21:50