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

Haddington County Buildings including rear wings and former villa at 27 Court Street and excluding flat roofed block to southeast and pitched quadrangle to south (John Muir House), Court Street, HaddingtonLB34260

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
East Lothian
Planning Authority
East Lothian
NT 51336 73843
351336, 673843


William Burn, 1833 with later office accommodation addition to the immediate right by W J Walker Todd (Dick Peddie and MacKay) 1932. Early 19th century former villa linked to north west corner of principal elevation. Extensive multiphase 2-storey Tudor Gothic U-plan court house building complex with paired elevation to Court Street prominently sited and set back from the street line. The later 20th century additions to rear are not considered of special interest in listing terms at time of review.

Earlier (1833) 5-bay section to east side with 3 sections housing cell blocks in descending heights to side street return. The 1833 building has smooth ashlar to the principal elevation, stugged to side and random rubble to the cell block building to the rear. Advanced central gable bay with gabletted arched entrance, large oriel stair window to first floor flanked by slim windows in niches and octagonal side turrets. Moulded base course and courses forming hoodmoulds over multi-pane mullioned windows, dentil course to parapet roof detail and unusual paired circular ridge stacks. Later (1932) section to west side with tall 14-bay office wing extending to rear. The 1932 addition to east is slightly set back from the 1833 building and built in similarly detailed Tudor revival style. Central pointed arched entrance doorway with carved thistle detailing and overhanging canted window to first floor built in coursed rubble with sandstone dressings. Long 2-storey range to rear with neatly coursed random rubble and regular window pattern.

Multi-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to 1833 block, arched tops to principal elevations. Side hung squared-pane metal windows to main elevation of 1932 block with 6 over 9-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to the rear wing. Graded grey slate roofs. Cast iron rainwater goods with downpipes set into string courses.

The interior, seen in 2014, has a good decorative scheme to the main interior spaces of both the 1833 and 1932 phases, in particular to the circulation spaces. There are some later 20th century alterations to the office areas. Fine open double stone staircase to main entrance lit by oriel window, with squared detail timber bannisters and smooth ashlar and rolled stoned mouldings to dado height extending along the side corridors. The first floor main courtroom has a deep cornice and combed ceiling. Good timber detailing to secondary stair and office spaces of 1932 addition including glazed office partitions and delicate thistle pattern cornicing to principal rooms. Festival Style wrought iron bannisters to stair in south end of 1932 wing likely to date to internal refurbishment scheme of the wing by Peter Whiston 1956. Timber panelled doors and shutters throughout.

Statement of Special Interest

Designed by William Burn, one of Scotland's most eminent architects, Haddington County Buildings was built as County Buildings with a burgh court house that dates to the year of the 1833 Police Burgh Act of Scotland. The 1833 building has fine stone detailing and is an early use of the Tudor Gothic Style in public buildings. The 1932 additions by W J Walker Todd, an equally well recognised architect, are well detailed in a complimentary historicist style.

Haddington County Buildings has two significant phases of construction: 1833 to the east and a later extension in 1932 to the west and south linking the building to an earlier 19th century villa to the west corner. The 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1853 shows the footprint and internal plan of the 1833 court house, marked as the County Buildings. The three height sections returning from the south west corner of the building are evident in this plan. The map shows the county buildings within a large walled enclosure which also contains the town jail to the rear.

The 1932 extension was built as the County Buildings for East Lothian County Council. The Buildings of Scotland attributes the rear wing to Peter Whitson in 1956 however it is more likely Whitson carried out an internal refurbishment only. An undated floorplan shows the 1932 front building and the rear wing with no thick external walls evident between the two parts suggesting that they were built at the same time. The rear wing also appears extant on a 1946 aerial photograph.

There has been a later phase of internal refurbishment to the southwest wing in 1956. At some point in the later 20th the earlier 19th century former villa has been linked internally to the 1932 section.

The Gothic style of this building was a departure in design and unusual for court houses of this period, as they were predominantly built in an austere classical style. The architect William Burn applied different architectural styles to suit each building's location, such as at Inverness Sheriff Court which is a classical castellated architectural style which makes historicist reference to the castle which was previously on the site.

The County Buildings is understood to have been constructed on the site of a 13th century Royal Palace and the birthplace of Alexander II of Scotland, which is noted on a plaque to the principal elevation.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act of 1833 significantly altered local government in Scotland and marked the beginning of democratically-elected councils and led to stricter financial control of Scottish burghs. Haddington Sheriff Court was an early example of a court house built on the back of this act.

The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and this provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date. The design of court houses in the early 19th century tended towards neoclassical or Renaissance styles to convey their status as important public buildings.

The circa 1970s flat roofed block to the southeast and the late 1990s pitched roofed quadrangle to south (John Muir House) are not considered of special interest in listing terms at the time of the review (2014-15).

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 2 separate listings: 'County Buildings, Court Street' and '27 Court Street'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 193193.

Ordnance Survey (published 1855) Lothian. 25 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

OS Air Photo Mosaics 1944-50. NT 57 S.W. (East Lothian). Published: 1946.

MacWilliam C. (1978) The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian except Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p.239.

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report at

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, County Buildings at [accessed 10 September 2014].

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.

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Haddington County Buildings, principal elevation of 1833, looking south, during daytime on an overcast day, with trees and flowers in the foreground
Haddington County Buildings, principal elevation of 1932 addition, looking south, during daytime on an overcast day.

Printed: 09/08/2022 09:47