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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Date Added
Local Authority
East Lothian
Planning Authority
East Lothian
Garvald And Bara
NT 59753 70615
359753, 670615


Mid to later 15th century keep incorporated in Brown and

Wardrop, 1863-4, Baronial mansion with late 19th century

additions, partially sited on the Z-plan of the former late

16th century castle and imitating the 15th century work.

Georgian stable court to E. Red sandstone rubble to keep,

stugged ashlar later work.

15TH CENTURY TOWER: at SE corner of present mansion, adjoined

to S at ground by service court. Square plan with cap house,

irregular later windows inserted to E, arrow slit to N,

billetting to parapet walk with rope moulding below at angles

and with rainwater spouts.

N ELEVATION: squat porte cochere of 1880s, adjoined to 19th

century reproduction of earlier keep; round arched entrances

to N and E and W sides of porch, with base and string

courses, and with parapet, raised and corbelled at angles;

heraldic carvings above archways. Further 19th century tower

at right angles to right, recessed and with round stair tower

set in re-entrant angle. Irregular windows with moulded

surrounds. Cap houses to both towers and conical roof to

stair tower cap house. 2-storey bay set between earliest keep

and 19th century work to W, given canted oriel.

W ELEVATION: tower to NW with recessed bay adjoined to right,

and slightly advanced gabled bay further right, linking with

slightly lower SW tower, again with cap house, and round

stair tower set in re-entrant angle. Corbelled canted balcony

(known as the pulpit) by window 2nd storey window of SW

tower, probably added later.

S ELEVATION: sturdy, consoled balustraded balcony on E return

of SW tower, with small canopied niche above and round-arched

doorway to re-entrant angle formed with 3 recessed,

irregularly grouped bays running E; yett grille to tower

doorway. Corbelled, gabled lookout turret clasped to SE


SERVICE COURT: rubble masonry; entered by round archways,

surmounted by late 19th century octagonal birdcage cupola

with decorative crown cap.

Gun loops at intervals in 19th century work. Variety of

glazing patterns. Slate roofs. Crowstepped gables and billet

moulded coping to gable end stacks. Pierced ashlar parapet by

N front.

INTERIOR: heavy victorian decoration; fine oak work of circa

1860, in linenfold panelling and geometrically panelled

doors. Stone flagging to hall with timber balustrade at foot

of stone dog-leg stair; stone newel stairs in towers. Notable chimneypieces, one with stone hood, one in marble with Ionic

pilasters, and one in timber with composite pilasters,

billeted mantelpiece and ornate cast-iron grate. Barrel vault

to 15th century tower.

PAINTED CEILING: between 1603 and 1617. Discovered in 1863,

and partly re-sited in the Chapel, partly taken to Museum of Antiquities. Tempera on board and beams. Initialled PHC

(Patrick Hepburn and Helen Cockburn); adorned with heraldry,

monarchal arms, musical instruments and exotic animals, and

guilloched ribbons on the beams. Black line drawing remains,

but not the white ground; much red and yellow detailing


SUNDIAL: 17th century. Polyhedron, multi-dialed stone

sundial, on cubic sundial pedestal and octagonal base; cupped

dials on 4 faces of polyhedron and small dials for places

such as Cairo, Jerusalem and Philadelphia.

Statement of Special Interest

Original keep close in form to Huntingtower, Perthshire and

Affleck Castle, Angus. After the Hepburn family it fell to

the Hays, and to Walter Wingate Gray, Glasgow merchant in the

later 19th century. In 1946, the Cistercian monks arrived,

residing at the Old Abbey while the new Sancta Maria Abbey

was built to the SW, and currently it serves as a Retreat.

The work of the late 19th century could possibly be by

Shiells and Thomson, who built the Baronial house of Linplum

nearby. The fine painted ceiling bears similar line drawing

to that at Sparrow Castle, Cockburnspath. Lodge and dovecot

listed separately. Lime tree avenue leading to Abbey. The Old

Abbey merits category A not only for its painted ceiling, but

also for the unusual incorporation of small windows in the

19th century design, a unique treatment of the revival style.



MacGibbon and Ross CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC vol 111, p393 and

vol V p477.

C McWilliam LOTHIAN (1978) pp369-70.


Thomas Bonnar, watercolour of ceiling in Edinburgh

Architectural Association SKETCHBOOK 1875-6.


PROCEEDINGS of the Society of Antiquaries vol. xxxviii,

1903-4, p.151ff.

The Edinburgh Collection, Edinburgh University Library MSS,

RA No 9002.

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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