James Murray of Kilbaberton (Master of the King's Works), 1622-23. 3 storey and attic; 5 bay; originally U plan Scottish Renaissance house with court style details; 1765 additions and alterations. Tooled sandstone rubble with polished dressings. Base course; moulded eaves cornice. Buckle quoins, strip quoins and long and short quoins; raised margins to windows; rounded margins to 1st floor; chamfered margins to 2nd floor and attic.
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: near symmetrical. Substantial 1765 canted infill advanced to centre 3 bays. Glazed timber door to centre of ground floor; Gibbs surround and tooled keystone reading "1765" surmounted by crest comprising St Andrew's cross with 4 mullets; window to each flanking bay; regular fenestration to 1st and 2nd floors; eaves blocking course. Gabled 1622 bays to outer right and outer left; single window to centre of ground floor of each bay; single window centred to each bay at 1st floor surmounted by carved segmental arched pediments, that to right reading "IM 1622" (for James Murray), with mullet to apex, and that to left reading "KW" (for Katherine Weir) with fleur de lys to apex; centred window to 2nd floor bays surmounted by carved pediments (badly weathered), that to left with thistle to apex.
NE ELEVATION: asymmetrical; 5 bay; window to 1st floor of centre bay and penultimate bay to left; horizontal 3 pane window to ground floor of bay to outer left; glazed small pane timber door to ground floor of penultimate bay to right; window to centre of 1st and 2nd floors of gabled bay to outer right, that to 2nd floor with pediment enclosing mullet and carved strapwork with thistle to apex; 4 pane window set in gablehead with scrolled apron and panelled architraves, surmounted by segmental arched pediment.
NW ELEVATION: asymmetrical; 3 bay with later additions and alterations. Lean to addition to centre and right bays of ground floor with window to bay to left; timber door to bay to right flanked by lean to of adjoining earlier 18th century block (see below); barred bipartite window to left of ground floor flanked to right by small 8 pane window. Regular fenestration to each bay of 1st floor. Curvilinear gableted dormers breaking eaves to each bay of 2nd floor: carved panel to central dormer reading "1623", that to left reading "IM" and that to right badly weathered, originally reading "KW"; 6 pane window under eaves between centre and left bays.
SW ELEVATION: asymmetrical; 5 bay; 3 bays to left gabled. Window to centre and outer left bays of ground floor; boldly roll moulded doorway to penultimate bay to right of ground floor; 2 leaf boarded timber door; 8 pane stair window between ground and 1st floors to bay to outer right; window to penultimate bay to left of 1st floor; window to centre bay of 2nd floor flanked by blinded window to outer left; window to bay to outer right of 2nd floor; 2 4 pane windows with strapwork aprons to cills and lintels set in gablehead.
Earlier 18th century addition advanced to outer left corner: 2 storey; near rectangular plan former service wing, now converted to offices.
SW Elevation: asymmetrical; bipartite window off centre to right of ground floor; window to centre of 1st floor; rooflight off centre to right.
SE Elevation: asymmetrical; 3 bay; tripartite window to centre bay at ground floor; bipartite window to bay to right; window to centre and left bays of 1st floor; rooflight to right.
NE Elevation: asymmetrical; lean to addition to re entrant angle to left with main block; infilled doorway to centre flanked to right by louvred window.
NW Elevation: asymmetrical; 4 bay; bay to outer left recessed; doorway to penultimate bay to right; glazed boarded timber door with ironwork doorhandle dated 1798 and letterbox; regular fenestration to ground and 1st floors of flanking bays to left and right.
Predominantly 12 pane timber sash and case windows. Grey slate roofs with stone ridges to 17th century blocks; piended roofs with lead ridges to 18th century blocks. Moulded stone skews with square plan obelisk skewputts ornamented with strapwork; majority of ball finials missing. Predominantly coursed ashlar gablehead stacks; stop chamfered with moulded cornices; circular cans. Cast iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: fine 17th and 18th century interior. Vaulted 17th century rooms to NE on ground floor; 1765 board room to SE of ground floor in infill, with wooden panels below dado and moulded cornice; 1622 ashlar doorway (original entrance to house) flanked by reeded and fluted pilasters on strapwork pedestals to SW wall leading to W stair. 17th century dining room (now boardroom) to principal floor entered through stone architraved doorway off W stair; early 18th century memel pine panelling with round headed niche surmounted by shell; plaster cornice; 17th century stone fireplace to NW, designed by James Murray but constructed in 18th century, with 3 strapwork panels, that to centre bearing initials "IW" (James Murray). Office (formerly withdrawing room) to NE of principal floor with fine geometric plaster ceiling bearing component national symbols of Great Britain, surrounded by mullets. 2 17th century doors to 3rd floor, that to W stair with ironwork studs, that to E stair with inlaid marquetry; room to E corner of 3rd floor contains part of original 17th century angle turret. Polished stone fireplace to E wall of attic.
GATES, GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: 2 pairs of square plan gatepiers to W of house with cyma recta coping surmounted by ball finials. Gates to the N droved and stugged sandstone ashlar with flat coped rubble walls; gates to S polished sandstone ashlar with rubble quadrant walls; replacement ironwork gates.
Statement of Special Interest
Baberton House is of exceptional interest as one of very few surviving early 17th century houses designed and built by an architect for himself. As Master of the King?s Works, James Murray was at the forefront of fashionable taste in architecture. The externally symmetrical U plan is innovative, as are the buckle quoins and lack of crowstepped gables. Initially called Kilbaberton, it has been suggested (RCAHMS INVENTORY, p56) that there were two houses on the site prior to the existing one. The first was built in the 11th century and was burnt down by Edward I in the 12th century. The next house was supposedly also burnt down, in 1587 by the local lairds who disliked the owners. In 1612 the lands were granted by King James VI to James Murray, then re-granted in 1622 to Murray and his wife Katherine Weir, whose initials appear in various places in and around the building (see above). Despite the 18th century semi octagonal infill, the original form of Baberton House is still clear. It was used on occasion as a royal hunting lodge. Baberton was originally U plan with circular ogee roofed stair towers to the re entrant angles of the courtyard, the principal elevation being nearly symmetrical. The E stair has been replaced, but the W stair is still in place, obscured by the addition. The house was at one time harled, with just the dressings exposed. Many of the details seen at Baberton can be found in surviving buildings of the period, where Murray and his contemporaries, principally William Wallace and Anthony Alexander, were involved. Baberton was originally set in quite extensive grounds which were bisected in 1847 by the Caledonian Railway, separating the house from Baberton Mains (see separate listing). Some of the land is now occupied by Baberton Golf Course, but the sundial, walled garden and bothy still survive (see separate listings). Over the years Baberton has had various occupants, among whom were the Christie family who bought the house with proceeds from the state lottery, and Charles X of France who leased the house for 3 months in 1830. In 1980 the house and its immediate grounds were bought by Cruden Investments Limited who converted it to offices.
THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, Vol 1, (1845), p546; 1st (1852) and 2nd (1893) Edition OS Maps; F H Groome, ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND, (1885), Vol 6, p107; D MacGibbon & T Ross, THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, (1892), Vol IV, p66-68, fig652-654 & Vol V p547; RCAHMS, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTIES OF MIDLOTHIAN AND WEST LOTHIAN, (1929), p56; C McWilliam, THE BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: LOTHIAN EXCEPT EDINBURGH, (1978), p86; A MacKechnie, "A Post 1603 Court Architecture", ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY, (1988), Vol. 31, p107-119; C McKean, EDINBURGH: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE, (RIAS), (1992), p186; H Colvin, BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF ARCHITECTS 1600-1840, (1995), p674; D Howard, SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE: REFORMATION TO RESTORATION 1560-1660, p65, p212; M Glendinning, R MacInnes & A MacKechnie, A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE: FROM RENAISSANCE TO THE PRESENT DAY, (1996), p56-57; A MacKechnie, BABERTON HOUSE, (1996); R Balfour Graham Langwill, NOTES ON CURRIE PARISH FROM 1893-1896, p106-109; CENTRAL LIBRARY EDINBURGH: EDINBURGH ROOM,
Press cuttings from various newspapers, 1937-1977.
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.
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