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


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 28807 65146
328807, 665146


Sir John Clerk of Penicuik and William Adam, 1723-1727, with alterations of circa 1840. Classical country house or villa comprising 2-storey over basement, 5-bay square plan corps de logis, with flanking quadrant screen walls curving forward and linking to symmetrically disposed rectangular plan single storey over basement pavilions. Cream sandstone ashlar principal elevation and quadrants, rubble (formerly harled) walls to side and rear elevations, and pavilions, all with polished ashlar dressings and margins. Base course, eaves course, modillioned cornice at eaves, balustrade above with regularly spaced corniced and panelled dies surmounted by urns (missing 1996). Horizontally channelled strip pilasters framing centre 3 bays and clasping corners at principal and 1st floors, pilaster pedestals to outer left and right with Latin inscriptions. Margined window jambs with cill and lintel courses at forming grid pattern at principal floors to side and rear elevations of main block. Margined windows to screen walls and pavilions.

NE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: splayed ashlar forestair rising to corniced entrance porch projecting at principal floor in centre bay; architraved doorpiece surmounted by armorial panel with flanking foliate scrolls. Lugged architraves to window at 1st floor in centre bay, and regularly fenestrated flanking bays; carved stone swags with masks over ground floor windows; alternate triangular and segmental arched pediments to 1st floor windows. Pediment with modillioned cornice over centre

3 bays; bold foliate carving in tympanum with architraved oculus at centre.

NW ELEVATION: 4-bay elevation; basement and principal floor openings infilled and subsequently exposed after demolition of additions, regular fenestration at 1st floor.

SE ELEVATION: mirrored image of NW elevation.

SW (REAR) ELEVATION: symmetrical 5-bay elevation, ashlar forestair (formerly balustraded) in centre bay rising to projecting quatrostyle portico comprised of stone balustraded parapet with corniced piers at base of Tuscan columns and corresponding pilasters supporting entablature with mutuled cornice and blocking course. Garden door centred behind portico at principal floor; flanking windows, blind at right with trompe l'oeil painted urn.

QUADRANT SCREEN WALLS: 2 storey, 2-bay regularly fenestrated quadrant screen walls (with single storey rubble vaulted passage surviving to rear of S wall) flanking principal elevation of main block, curving forward to pilastered corners, and down-swept to single bay sections adjoining pavilions; margined square windows to basement, principal floor windows round-arched with keystones, and linked by band course

at impost level, corniced wallhead surmounted by blind balustraded parapet.

N PAVILION: 2 x 1-bay, symmetrical principal elevations with string course at principal floor, margin and cornice at eaves, and horizontally-channelled pilasters clasping corners. Single bay elevation to NE comprising basket-arched cart arch at basement, with Venetian window centred above, now brick-infilled with modern opening inserted at left. Decorative wallhead stack comprising corniced and panelled shaft over open-pedimented base with flanking foliate scrolls and blind oculus at centre. Regularly fenestrated SE (courtyard) elevation. Matching wallhead stack with less elaborate scrolls centring SW elevation. Later door and window inserted into left bay and to centre respectively at basement of NW (rear) elevation; regular fenestration in bay to right and at principal floor. Basement openings linked by band course.

S PAVILION: mirrored image of above, with matching principal and SW elevations; 3-storey SE elevation; tall rendered brick chimney obscuring pilaster to outer right; segmental-arched openings with fluted keystones to sub-basement presiding over walled service courtyard enclosed by high rubble wall with monopitch service wing (possibly circa 1840) at right.

Most openings to main house now brick-infilled. Single 12-pane oak sash and case window with radial upper sash surviving in N quadrant; some 12 pane windows and shutters remain to pavilions. Roofs now removed. Single panelled, pilastered, and corniced polished ashlar multi-flue stack rising through centre of main block.

RETAINING WALLS: extending to N and S at rear elevation of main block, and to E from service courtyard with doorway and steps immediately to E.

TERRACES, STEPS AND GATEPIERS: garden walks on earth terraces leading to walled garden and 'fort' to S and W respectively; sandstone steps to S walk; circular section gatepiers (caps missing) opposite NW gateway to walled garden.

Statement of Special Interest

One of Scotland s most important country houses, the well-documented collaboration between William Adam and the lawyer-scholar, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, resulted in a highly original design on a freshfield site. Sir John s father had planned a house here, and a drawing of 1698 shows a plain square box with coupled chimneystacks perched on top of a tall piended roof. This became the basis, enriched and Palladianized, of the present house. John Baxter Senior was the mason contractor, and William Sylverstyne the stone carver. The house was recast circa 1840 with a symmetrical arrangement of large well-designed additions (possibly Thomas Hamilton) flanking the rear elevation to provide a drawing room and ball room (demolished 1954). It appears that the parterre within the principal courtyard was excavated at this time, and the cills of basement windows lowered with the forestair. Further extensions were added to the front of the pavilions in the 1880s, but these were also demolished in 1954. Until recent consolidation work, the corps de logis retained many timber sash and case windows, in a 12-pane pattern to the principal floors, and 16 and 4-pane patterns to the basement, although it is likely that the majority of the multi-pane windows are from the 1840 re-casting. A photograph of circa 1956 shows a blind window at 1st floor displaying what appears to be the original 24 pane arrangement with thicker glazing bars. Since the fire of 1973, the house has lost some urns from the principal balustrade and pediment, and the ornate 19th century cast-iron balustrade to the principal forestair. It has also lost its roofs, essential to understanding the French and Dutch influence of the design. Of grey slate, they comprised a distinctive and unusual domical piended platform roof to the main block, piended and bell-cast roofs to pavilions with a monopitch to the service wing. A-group with Doocot, Gazebo, Walled Gardens, Ice House, Dairy, Game Larder, and East Lodge (Kevock Road, Lasswade).



W Adam VITRUVIUS SCOTICUS (pub1812, reprinted with introduction by James Simpson, 1980), plates 46 and 47; NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT, (1843) p33; appears on 1st edition OS map 1854; J Fleming, ROBERT ADAM AND HIS CIRCLE (1962), pp33-44, p330; C McWilliam, LOTHIAN (1978), pp314-316; A A Tait, THE LANDSCAPE GARDEN IN SCOTLAND (1980) p21-22; I Gow "Mavisbank, Midlothian" in COUNTRY LIFE (20/8/1987), pp70-73;

J Macaulay THE CLASSICAL COUNTRY HOUSE IN SCOTLAND 1660-1800 (1987), pp60-65; Eds J Dixon Hunt & P Willis THE GENIUS OF THE PLACE (reprinted 1988), pp197-203; J Gifford, WILLIAM ADAM (1989) p.314-316; I Gow and

F Tindall in THE JOURNAL OF THE ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND, WILLIAM ADAM (1989), p67 and pp104-107; I Gow THE SCOTTISH INTERIOR (1992), pp88-90; J Thomas, MIDLOTHIAN RIAS GUIDE (1995) p42-43; M Glendinning, R MacInnes, A MacKechnie A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE (1996), pp116-120.

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. 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.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 16/07/2019 09:26