William Playfair, designed 1825, built 1826-1833. Part of the long terrace of 34 classical 3-bay townhouses; originally 2-storey, attic and basement 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); terrace stepped down at intervals to follow slope of road. Droved painted 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 and 1st floors; panelled aprons to ground floor windows; predominantly regular fenestration to rear elevation.
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 3-storey and basement elevation; 4-bay basement. To basement, to inner right bay, timber panelled door with 3-light fanlight in segmentally-headed opening; windows to remaining bays. 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: 4-bay elevation with full height wing to inner left bay, with additional piend-roofed (with glazed apex) single-storey extension to ground floor. Eaves course.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 4-pane glazing to front elevation; predominantly 12-pane glazing to rear elevation and to basement to front elevation, to 1st floor, 16-lying-pane glazing to right bays; 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 stack, preced to E by individual octagonal flues; to rear wing, gablehead stack; predominantly circular cans. To front elevation, cast-iron down pipe with ornamental hopper.
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 rear, forming boundary of garden, random rubble walls with predominantly flat coping.
INTERIOR: to ground floor: to lobby, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork, 19th century painted frieze (see Notes), pilastered timber screen with part glazed door to centre flanked by margin light with painted glass, plaque above (see Notes). To 1st floor: to former drawing room, good plasterwork, double pilastered and corniced doorpiece; some good plaster work to remainder of 1st floor. Stone cantilevered stairs with ornate cast-iron balusters.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of the Calton A-Group.
Currently subdivided into flats.
The 2nd floor to 10 Regent Terrace is a later addition and not part of Playfair's original design.
In 1880, Alexander Bruce and his family moved into No 10; Mrs Bruce (his second wife) was the daughter of the missionary David Livingstone. Bruce, who contributed greatly to various charitable works, died in 1893. Following this, the family vacated the house in 1898, but the house continued to be owned by the family until it was given to the Church of Scotland in 1945. The plaque in the lobby commemorates this event with the following words: 'This house was the family home of Mr and Mrs A.L.Bruce and was given by his daughter Miss A.B. Bruce to the Foreign Mission Committee as a residence for retired missionaries. 1945.'
The painted mural in the lobby, which probably dates from the Bruces' residence (as does the painted glass screen) , depicts pastoral scenes accompanied by verse from a poem entitled 'Courage, Brother' by Norman Macleod, first published in 1857 in the 'Edinburgh Christian Magazine' of which Macleod was editor. The verse on the frieze is as follows: 'Foot it bravely, strong or weary; Trust no custom, school or fashion; Cease from man and look above thee; Trust in God and do the right'.
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.