Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 24702 73953
324702, 673953


Robert Adam, 1793-1805. Symmetrical 3-storey basement and attic 27-bay neo-classical palace block consisting of 11 houses, 9 entered from front and 2 from ends. Polished cream sandstone ashlar. Rock-faced basement; V-jointed rustication at ground floor with impost course where appropriate; cill course to 1st and 2nd floors (excepting pavilions); cornice and blocking course.

S (CHARLOTTE SQUARE) ELEVATION: slightly projecting 7-bay centrepiece with engaged tetrastyle portico flanked by paired columns, breaking forward again; balustrades between column bases; windows at 1st floor in round-arched recesses alternate with circular plaques; carved and fluted frieze with blank panel at centre; balustraded parapet framed by festoons. End pavilions broader spaced with pilasters to upper floors; Venetian windows at ground in round-arched recesses; at 1st floor, balustraded windows, tripartite window in round-arched recess at centre and flanking windows with consoled cornices; solid parapet with festoon at centre supporting sphinx; pyramidal roof. Inner bays arcaded at ground. Tripartite doors with variety of radiating fanlights at centre of centrepiece and pavilions, thence every 3 bays moving outwards; original metal fanlights to Nos 1, 2 and 3.

W (GLENFINLAS STREET) ELEVATION: 5-bay; basement built out to provide full-width platt to ground floor. Doorway at centre as above (later 2-storey porch removed); all windows blind except to far left at ground and 3 alternating at 1st floor.

E (NORTH CHARLOTTE STREET) ELEVATION: 3-bay; basement and door as above, with impost course at ground. Upper floors with corner pilasters and slightly projecting centrepiece; arcaded 1st floor with blind balustrading and fluted impost course; rosettes flank centre window at 2nd floor (1 glazed); balustrade and wallhead stack at centre. Large box dormer.

REAR ELEVATION: dressed rubble. Mostly regular with many cast-iron balconies at 1st floor; canted dormers to W, full attics to centre and E (with 1 exception). Various extensions at basement level.

Timber sash and case 12-pane windows; some plate glass to rear. Grey slates, ashlar coped skews; corniced ashlar stacks.

INTERIORS: Nos 1 and 2 interlock; the former with one of finest interiors in Edinburgh: small entrance leads straight into rectangular stairwell with fine wrought-iron balustrade; ceiling with fan in concave husk garlands; former Dining Room to front with arched pilastered sideboard recess; later opening to rear room filled by gothic astragalled glass screen installed in 1968 by Robert Hurd & Partners (made by Whytock & Reid); enriched ceiling with garlanded oval; former Drawing Room with fine ceiling of 8-point star set in oval; enriched timber chimneypieces installed in 1968, at which time links made at all floors with No 2. This remodelled circa 1840 with heavy Greek detailing. Nos 1-4 are now single office.

No 5 remodelled from 1903 in finest quality by A F Balfour Paul (manufactured by Scott Morton') for Lord Bute with oak panelling to ground and stair, cedar detailing at 1st floor and naturalistically painted ceiling, copied from a Adam design for Luton Hoo, to Drawing Room, and similar one to interconnecting Rear Drawing Room; fine contemporary marble chimneypieces.

No 6, Bute House, with T-plan entrance hall with rosetted ceiling and consoled white marble chimneypiece; Dining Room to rear with enriched ceiling; large stairwell to right; fine Front Drawing Room with swagged oval ceiling and beautiful white marble chimneypiece, contemporary but not original to house, with centre panel of Galatea; similar but original chimneypiece to Rear Drawing Room. David Rhind, Thomas Leadbetter and Balfour Paul all made alterations, respectively, 1867, 1889 and 1924.

No 7 heavily restored, 1975; flagged hall and rectangular stairwell with swagged oval skylight; Dining Room with early 19th century black slate chimneypiece; room to rear at ground with timber and gesso chimneypiece from Tarvit House, Fife. 1st floor cornices of 1975, Drawing Room chimneypiece from No 5, that to rear from Tarvit House. Wine cellar is original. Alterations by John Watherston and Son, 1871 and 1889, Balfour Paul, 1926.

No 8 refitted in best late 18th century French manner in 1897-8; original 18th century enriched ceilings at ground, later versions at 1st floor.

No 9 with enriched ceiling to former Dining Room.

RAILINGS AND LAMP STANDARDS: cast-iron spearhead railings and original lamp standards.

BOUNDARY WALLS: coped rubble boundary walls enclose former gardens (now car parks) to rear.

Statement of Special Interest

The square was designed in 1791, and the first house completed in 1794. Nos 1 and 2 were built by Alexander Stevens, architect and engineer; Nos 5, 6 and 7 were restored by the 4th Marquis of Bute, and accepted by the nation in lieu of death duties. No 5 was refitted in lavish Adam revival manner in the early 20th century by Lord Bute, and is now the head office of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS); No 6, Bute House, is the Scottish residence of the Secretary of State for Scotland (it was formerly the home of Sir John Sinclair); No 7 has been restored as the NTS's Georgian House having been the shop of Whytock and Reid for many years (in the early 19th century it was the home of the Farquharson's of Invercauld); No 8 has early 20th century French-style Drawing Room; James Syme and Lord Lister formerly lived at No 9. Some of the windows at 1st floor had their cills lowered in the 19th century, being subsequently restored in the 1920s at Lord Bute's instigation, the roof line being tidied up at the same time.




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. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. 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.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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