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
Planning Authority
NT 38816 65507
338816, 665507


Late 16th century; tower incorporated in new house by Robert Adam 1782; new entrance front and re-modelling, William Burn, 1842. Tower house incorporated (and concealed by) 4-storey and basement, 7-bay classical rectangular-plan castle with 2 and (now) 3-storey wings with attics to flanks; later single storey and basement wing forming new entrance with advanced single storey, single bay crenellated portico. Droved ashlar with polished ashlar dressings. Base, band and eaves courses. Crenellated parapets, angle towers and turrets.

N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: central entrance portico with round-arched hoodmoulded doorway and band course, corbelled battlements surmounting, window to right return; 2 pairs of arched windows to right above partially concealed basement windows, projecting gable to far right with angle turrets to front and 1?-storey, 4-bay segmental bay window with corbelled band course. To left of entrance: pair of arched windows with tripartite window adjacent above partially concealed basement windows. To rear of entrance front, former symmetrical rear of Adam castle rising above: recessed central arch containing windows to upper floors; regular arrowslit fenestration to rest of elevation with full height angle towers to flanks; advanced crenellated and turreted circular stair tower to right linking Adam and Burn elements. Large ashlar bull and horse (to represent the supporters of the armorial bearings of the Viscounts of Oxfuird) surmounting Adam castle. To far left, further Burn addition, see E ELEVATION.

E ELEVATION: pair of projecting battlemented pilastered arched bay windows to ground floor (3-bay to left, 4-bay to right) above matching plain basement windows, band course to central elevation; 7-bays to 1st floor (original 4 Adam bays to left, later 3 Burn bays to right), corbelled eaves course, battlemented parapet with ornamental angle turrets surmounting; flat roofed dormers to attic. To right return (adjoining Burn entrance to rear), projecting battlemented arched bay window (3-bays) above partially concealed basement window to ground floor with single bay to 1st floor, battlemented parapet with ornamental angle turrets surmounting.

W ELEVATION: to front left, 4 arched bays to principal floor with segmental bay window (bipartite window to centre and single bays to sides) to second bay left, squared 4th bay rising into crenellated tower. To left return, forming Burn entrance; to right return, series of stepped single bay elevations running to and adjoining side of 3-storey and basement, 3-bay Adam castle to rear right of elevation.

S (GARDEN) ELEVATION: central 4-storey and basement block consisting 3-bay bay window to centre with single bay to flanks, 5-storey round towers with slit windows adjacent, originally 2 ?-storey wings to flanks with single bays set within arched recesses (still visible to 1st floor right) with slit windows to exterior of bays, now projecting battlemented segmental bay window (2-bays with central 2-leaf door) above partially concealed basement window to ground floor right, 3-storey and basement segmental battlemented bay window (tripartite window to front, single bays to sides) to left. Small angle turrets to both wings.

COURTYARD TO WEST: irregular storeys and fenestration as each building phase meets although large earlier stone effigies of a Bull and Horse surmounting rear of Adam castle.

Mostly 12-pane timber sash and case windows, although some multi-and 2-pane arched timber windows to Burn's ground floor. Shallow piended grey slate roof with lead and zinc flashing concealed behind castellated parapet. Painted cast-iron rainwater goods. High ashlar sandstone stacks with decorative corbelled neck copes and variety of plain and ornamental cans.

INTERIOR: hall containing armoury; billiard room with Adam fireplace and King James' mirror, Watteau figures; library by William Burn; dining room is oldest part of house (65ft long, plastered and oak grained, ceiling by Adam); many original fireplaces including marble, timber, and metal surrounds; ornate plaster work, cornice work and ceiling roses with gilt decoration; some early light fittings, chandeliers and servants bells. Interior timber work surviving including many shutters, doors and door-cases. Carved and turned timber stair cases.

Statement of Special Interest

Originally an earlier L-plan tower house, Oxenfoord Castle was altered and extended by a number of generations. The most significant changes took place when the estate passed into the hands of Sir John Dalrymple and Lady Elizabeth, his cousin who had married against the wishes of her father. She had inherited the property on his death and, together with her husband, commissioned Robert Adam (with whom her husband had studied at University) to prepare a scheme for restoration and extension. These plans are housed at the Soane Museum. The Adams had recently converted Culzean Castle from an L-shaped house into a perfect rectangle with lower wings and flanking towers. Much the same was proposed at Oxenfoord, although the wings were slightly reduced in scale. At about this time the bridge (listed separately) was added to the castle. Designed by Alexander Stevens, (the bridge builder and architect with whom Adam had worked before, see Ayr Bridge), it borrows forms from the house. Later, a new church and burial ground was constructed to replace the old ones still found within the policies. This was due to it being sited too near to the newly refurbished castle and they were paid for fully by the Dalrymples (The Callanders of Prestonhall later moved the manse for much the same reason). By the time their son took over the property in the early 1800's, new ideas about country house design were well advanced. William Burn was called upon by the eighth Earl of Stair to further improve the castle. The symmetrical facade was added to by means of a lower wing culminating in a new complex entrance. Burn copied Adam's earlier style, reusing the pepper-pot turrets, machicolated cornice and string courses. He also added the segmental bay windows to the E and N elevations. The building stayed in the ownership of the Dalrymple family, with Lady Marjorie Dalrymple establishing a school in it in 1931. Until 1993, Oxenfoord Castle School was housed here. The castle has now reverted back into private use and is at the centre of the Oxenfoord estate.



Andrew and Mostyn Armstrong, MAP OF THE 3 LOTHIANS (1773) showing Oxford Hall. SEATS OF NOBILITY AND GENTRY N GREAT BRITAIN AND WALES (1787) for account of castle. John Thomson, NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN PART OF EDINBURGHSHIRE (1821/1822) showing Oxenfoord Castle. Hon Hew Dalrymple, AN ACCOUNT OF OXENFOORD CASTLE (1901). Rev J Dickson, CRANSTOUN: A PARISH HISTORY (1907) pp 132-136. Thomas Hannan, FAMOUS SCOTTISH HOUSES - THE LOWLANDS (1928) pp 141-143. Alistair Rowan, OXENFOORD CASTLE, MIDLOTHIAN, A Property of the Earl of Stair, leased to Oxenfoord Castle School (Country Life, August 1974) pp 30-33. ROBERT ADAM AT HOME, 1728 - 1978 (undated) p25 for original drawing of castle. C McWilliam, LOTHIAN (1978) pp 374-376. Photographs in Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments Of Scotland, MIDLOTHIAN, Box O (various dates) including: "Watercolour perspective from a sketchbook "after" Hugh William "Grecian William" (1773 - 1829) c 1796. Also in NMRS copies of plans from the Soane Museum: Robert Adam, DESIGN FOR THE LIBRARY AND DRAWING ROOM CEILINGS (1782) SM Vol 14 No 80 - 83. WEST, SOUTH and EAST ELEVATIONS including FLOOR PLANS (1780, Robert Adam) SM Vol 30 Nos 122-129. FRIEZE DETAIL (no date) SM Vol 53 Nos 45 and 46. William Burn, SECTIONS OF THE ADDITIONS (1840); PLAN OF THE PRINCIPAL FLOOR SHOWING THE ADDITIONS AND ALTERATIONS (1840). J Thomas, MIDLOTHIAN (1995) pp 105-106.

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.

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Printed: 08/07/2020 06:35