William Playfair, designed 1825, built 1826-1833. Part of long terrace of 34 classical 3-bay townhouses; originally 2-storey, basement and attic elevations (many have additional later 3rd storeys) punctuated by 2 18-bay, 3-storey pavilions with 3-bay advanced sections to each end (Nos 11-16 and 23-28) and with 12-bay, 3-storey section to the western end (Nos 1-4); terrace stepped down at intervals to follow slope of road. Droved ashlar to basement; polished ashlar to upper floors; predominantly coursed squared rubble with dressed margins to rear elevation. To principal elevation: base course; dividing band between basement and ground floor; dividing band and cornice between ground and 1st floors; to 1st floor, continuous cast-iron trellis balcony with Greek key border; band course dividing 1st and 2nd floors; 2nd floor cill course; eaves cornice; blocking course. Doorpiece of fluted attached Greek Doric columns. Regular fenestration to principal elevation; architraved windows to ground, 1st and 2nd floors; panelled aprons to ground floor windows; predominantly regular fenestration to rear elevation.
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 3-storey and basement elevation; painted basement. To basement, to centre bay, timber panelled door with 4-light fanlight; window to left bay, to right, area beneath platt blocked by wall with bipartite window. To ground floor, to right bay, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to 2-leaf timber-panelled door with triple-circle glazed letterbox fanlight.
NW (REAR) ELEVATION: 3-bay elevation with small single storey mono-pitch roofed extension to centre. Eaves course.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing; 15-pane glazing 1st floor to front elevation and to right bay to rear elevation; 4-pane glazing to 2nd floor to front elevation; glazing predominantly in timber sash and case windows. M-roof with central valley; graded grey slate; stone skews and skewputts. To E and W, corniced mutual ridge stacks (preceded by two low individual octangular flues to E); predominantly circular cans.
RAILINGS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: to front, edging basement recess and platt, stone coping surmounted by cast-iron railings with dog bars, spear-head finials and distinctive circled border; to left of platt, wrought-iron lamp standard. To rear, forming boundary of garden, random rubble walls with predominantly flat coping.
INTERIOR: to ground floor: to lobby, geometric tiled floor compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork and 19th century Etruscan style painted scheme to walls, frieze and ceiling, screen of polished black Corinthian columns, marble chimneypiece. To 1st floor: to former drawing room, good plasterwork, compartmented ceiling, classical grey marble chimneypiece; to rear room, good plasterwork, classical marble fireplace. To 2nd floor: to front room (W), grey and white columned marble chimneypiece. Stone cantilevered stairs with ornate cast-iron balusters; rectangular cupola; good plasterwork to landings.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of the Calton A-Group.
The 2nd floor to 6 Regent Terrace is a later addition and not part of Playfair's original design. In 1831, David Chalmers, a baker, bought 6 Regent Terrace for £1,500; it was sold in 1877 for £2,700. In the 1940s the house was used as a hotel.
Regent Terrace forms part of the showpiece of Playfair's Eastern New Town (or Calton) scheme, and as such is an important example of the work of one of Scotland's leading early 19th century architects. Playfair was one of the major driving forces of the Greek Revival in Edinburgh at this time, and his public commissions such as the National Monument, the Royal Institution and the National Gallery (see separate listings) gave strength to Edinburgh's reputation as the Athens of the North. The Calton Scheme was one of his few domestic commissions, and the variety of designs, different for each street, demonstrates Playfair's expertise with the Grecian style and his characteristic punctilious attention to detail. The railings and balconies are important as their design features distinctive elements which Playfair repeated in large areas of the Calton scheme.
The origins of the Eastern New Town, which was to occupy the east end of Calton Hill and lands to the north of it on the ground between Easter Road and Leith Walk, lie in a 'joint plan for building' which three principal feuars (Heriot's Hospital, Trinity Hospital and Mr Allan of Hillside) entered into in 1811. In 1812 a competition was advertised for plans for laying out the grounds in question. Thirty-two plans were received, displayed and reported on by a variety of people, including eight architects. Eventually, it was decided that none of the plans was suitable. However, it was a more general report by William Stark (who died shortly after submitting it) which caught the attention of the Commissioners and formed the basis of the final scheme. Stark's central argument stressed the importance of planning around the natural contours and features of the land rather than imposing formal, symmetrical street plans upon it. After several years of little or no progress, in 1818 the Commissioners finally selected William Henry Playfair, Stark's former pupil, to plan a scheme following his master's Picturesque ideals.
The resulting scheme, presented to the Commissioners in 1819, preserved the view of and from Calton Hill by the creation of a limited triangular development of the three single-sided terraces (to make the most of the spectacular views), Royal, Regent and Carlton, on the hill itself. These looked over a huge radial street pattern, centred on the gardens of Hillside Crescent, on the land to the north. The feuing of these lower lands started well, with Elm Row, Leopold Place, Windsor Street and the west side of Hillside Crescent being built fairly swiftly. Regent Terrace was feued in 1824 and building began the next year. In 1831, nearly all the houses were complete, and by 1833, all were inhabited except No 14. However, demand for the feus in other street of the scheme faltered severely, due to the growing popularity of new properties being built to the west of the New Town. This had a particularly bad effect on Royal Terrace, where construction stopped for 20 years, leaving 2 large gaps in the Terrace and a further 3 unbuilt feus to the west end. The fate of the whole Calton scheme was sealed in 1838, when it was decided that feuars should pay poor-rates to both Edinburgh and Leith. This virtually halted development for the next thirty years. The result of all these problems was that very little of Playfair's original scheme was ever built. When building resumed in the 1880s, some of Playfair's original street lines were adhered to, as was the case with Hillside Crescent, and in others such as Brunton Place, Brunswick Street, Hillside Street (originally to be a longer street called Hopeton Street), and Wellington Street (also curtailed). However, due to piecemeal residential, industrial and transport developments immediately to the north, it would have been impossible to further follow Playfair's original layout, even if this had been considered desirable.
Wood's Map, 1823. OS Map, 1853, 1877, 1896. MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE FOR FEUING THE GROUNDS OF CALTON HILL 1811-1822, Edinburgh City Council Archives. W H Playfair, DRAWINGS, Edinburgh University Library, 1790-1857. Edinburgh City Archives, Dean of Guild: 15th April 1880 (application relating to the addition of one storey). A J Youngson, THE MAKING OF CLASSICAL EDINBURGH, (1966) pp148-156. I Lindsay, GEORGIAN EDINBURGH, (1973) pp54-55. A. Mitchell, THE PEOPLE OF CALTON HILL, (1993), pp 42, 62. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker, EDINBURGH, (1994), p444-446. H Colvin, DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS, (1995), p766. J Lowrey, THE URBAN DESIGN OF EDINBURGH'S CALTON HILL in THE NEW TOWN PHENOMENON ' ST ANDREWS STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF SCOTTISH DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN, (2000), pp1-12. RCAHMS Collections.
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Printed: 22/06/2018 00:50