Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
100000019 - (see NOTES)
Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 24844 75522
324844, 675522


Earlier 19th century to circa 1930, Robert Matheson, W T Oldreive and others. Irregular group of buildings of different dates grouped around two courtyards comprising: 1910 Free Renaissance-style laboratory and office building fronting Inverleith Row; contemporary range extending back at right-angles from S corner with semi-octagonal turret at corner; former curator?s house, circa 1830, behind centre of laboratory block (only discernible from S courtyard); circa 1840 former classroom and museum adjacent to former curator's house (only discernible from courtyards); circa 1880 addition to 1840 block adjoining it to N; 1851 classroom (with early

20th century 2nd floor) and octagonal lecture theatre outshot to W. The 1964 Herbarium and its circa 2000 additions are not included in this list.

1910 LABORATORY BUILDING: W T Oldrieve for HM Office of Works, 1909-10, completed circa 1930 (see Notes). 2-storey and attic, U-plan building with symmetrical elevation to Inverleith Row. Central open-pedimented entrance bay with 2-leaf timber door at ground in broad chamfered and roll-moulded depressed-arch architrave with prominent keystone; large transomed and mullioned staircase window above door with arched tympanum in pediment bearing date, 1910; narrow windows with prominent keystones flanking door. 5 bay wings flanking to each side, divided by giant Doric pilasters; transomed and mullioned windows at ground; bipartite mullioned windows at first floor; 4 flat-roofed tripartite dormers to attic. Blocked eaves cornice. Pedimented gateway to outer right with 2-leaf timber panelled gates in roll-moulded, depressed-arch architrave with prominent keystone. Regularly fenestrated wing at rear to N; irregularly fenestrated wing at rear to S with semi-octagonal 2-storey turret at corner with cornice and blocking course. Sandstone ashlar to Inverleith Row; roughcast brick elsewhere.

Predominantly 4-, 6- and 10-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; top-hinged timber windows to sides. Rendered, corniced stacks with yellow clay cans. Graded grey slate. Plain interior with some original timber doors.

LECTURE HALL: Robert Matheson for HM Office of Works, 1851. Single-storey pedimented octagonal lecture hall

with central lantern, joined to other buildings by classroom to E. Pedimented 3-bay elevations to lecture hall with single-bay canted corners; N and S elevations with tabbed oculi to pediments; advanced closed porch to W with tripartite window to W under mini-pediment and 2-leaf timber panelled doors to both returns; steps to S door only (steps to N door removed); windows flanking porch with panelled bracketed aprons. Polished sandstone ashlar. Base course; eaves course; blocking course. Raised long and short quoins; raised window margins. Lying pane glazing in large timber sash and case windows. Piended roof; graded grey slate; octagonal timber lantern with weather-vane.

CLASSROOM AND OTHER ROOMS: 5-bay classroom, Robert Matheson, 1851, adjoining lecture hall to East. Coursed grey sandstone with raised ashlar window margins at ground; early 20th century drawing studio addition at first floor with very large windows to N; lying-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to classroom. 2 stone plaques to rear, (S) of building, dedicated to Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour and John Williamson (see Notes). Circa 1880 2-storey extension of museum to left; yellow sandstone; long and short quoins, raised window margins; 4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Circa 1840 (see Notes) former museum building behind; Circa 1830 former Curator?s house adjacent, and adjoining centre of 1910 laboratory block.

Statement of Special Interest

A-Group with Inverleith House, 1858 Palm House and 1834 Palm Stove, Linnaeus Monument, 1967 Greenhouse, East and West Gates, Gardener's Cottage, and Caledonian Hall. The Royal Botanic Garden is included in the Inventory Of Gardens And Designed Landscapes In Scotland, Site Number 216.

An important group of buildings that strongly reflect the history of the Botanic Gardens. The octagonal lecture theatre and 1910 elevation to Inverleith row are of particular architectural interest.

The Royal Botanic Garden moved to Inverleith from its former location on Leith Walk in 1820. At that time it only occupied the NE quarter of its present area, with the SE quarter forming the garden of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, and the Western half belonging to Inverleith House. The first building at 20a Inverleith Row was probably the former curator's house, which is now only visible from the S courtyard. The adjacent building,

which was originally a classroom, was probably added in about1840. Both buildings are clearly shown on Johnston's Plan of Edinburgh and Leith, 1851. In 1849 it was decided that a new classroom and museum were needed. The octagonal lecture hall and adjacent classroom were built in 1851 as rooms for teaching and research, and the old classroom was converted into a museum. This work cost #1600. It took the best part of a year to create the museum, so quite a lot of work must have been carried out, and it is likely that the large windows on this building date from this time. The extension to the museum was built between about 1870 and 1880. In the early 20th century it was decided that more space was required for research, and the laboratory building along Inverleith Row was erected in 1909-10. At this point only half the present building was erected ? the section left (South) of and including the main entrance, and the rear wing to the South. The building contained classrooms, water culture rooms, a dark room, myeological laboratory, photomicography room, studio and other rooms. The other half of the later symmetrical elevation was planned as a possible extension, and was built before the publication of the 1934 OS map.

The plaques to the rear of the 1851 classroom have been removed from other parts of the garden. John Williamson was a former Principal Gardener who had helped to lay out the Botanic Garden at its previous site on Leith Walk. Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour was an eminent Regius Keeper in the late nineteenth century, and having resisted amalgamation with Edinburgh University, oversaw the transfer of the Botanic Garden to the Crown in 1889.



Gellatly's New Map of the country 12 miles round Edinburgh, 1834. Appears on 1894 OS map. Dean of Guild plans for laboratory in Edinburgh City Archive, 21 October 1909. Fletcher and Brown, THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN, EDINBURGH, 1670-1970 (1970), pp141-2 and p150 and map of garden in 1870. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker, BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: EDINBURGH, p576.

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. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. 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.

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