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Session House, Liberton Parish Church, Edinburgh

A Category A Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.9131 / 55°54'47"N

Longitude: -3.1609 / 3°9'39"W

OS Eastings: 327529

OS Northings: 669497

OS Grid: NT275694

Mapcode National: GBR 8WW.6T

Mapcode Global: WH6ST.FM0T

Plus Code: 9C7RWR7Q+6J

Entry Name: Session House, Liberton Parish Church, Edinburgh

Listing Name: 5A, 5B and 5C Kirkgate, Liberton Parish Church with Memorials, Session House, Graveyard, Gates and Gatepiers, Walls and Railings

Listing Date: 14 December 1970

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 364060

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB27090

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200364060

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Liberton/Gilmerton

Traditional County: Midlothian

Tagged with: Session house

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J Gillespie Graham, 1815, incorporating 1736 Baird family vault at rear. Rectangular plan with 3-stage tower to W, Gothic church on site of earlier church, Coursed, stugged ashlar with polished ashlar dressings, base course, corner buttresses, hoodmoulds, cornice. Crenellated parapet, cruciform finials to gables. Predominantly simple decorated tracery with stone mullions and transoms, plain glass. Each elevation symmetrical.

S ELEVATION: 5-bay. 2 pointed-arched doorways in advanced buttressed and gabled penultimate bays, boarded timber doors with window above. Small 17th century rectangular blocks beside each door, carved with figures and hourglass, probably tomb fragments. 2 tall 3-light windows to centre bay with cast-iron railed Gothic memorial to Rev Grantam in red sandstone ashlar between. Single window to outer bays, door with window above on W return beside tower, crowstepped gable rising to abut tower.

TOWER: 3-stage, with corbelled, crenellated parapet and thin gabled pinnacles. Door to W at ground, single light window above and to each return, 2-light louvred windows to each stage above.

E ELEVATION: gabled, with crowstepped gables and round opening with trefoil window to gablehead. 2 doorways at ground floor to outer bays with 2-light light window above, large 3-light window to centre.

N ELEVATION: central advanced, buttressed, gabled bay with gabled pinnacles, door at ground floor, 2 tall 2-light windows flanking. Bay flanked by 2 windows at left and right.

INTERIOR: T-plan created by stair-halls at NE and NW corners. Built to accommodate 1,480, altered to seat 1,000 in 1882. Woodwork stripped in 1928. Plain compartmentalised ceiling and oak furnishings; Gothic panelled fronted galleries on 3 sides carried on slender cast-iron columns. Pulpit to S with (dummy) organ loft above, organ 1928, simple Gothic panelling to communion table. Carved memorial to Rev W Purdie (died 1834) on W wall beneath gallery signed A Ritchie. Stained glass on S wall, E end, 2 lights by Ballantine 1905. ELDERS ROOM: originally Baird vault from earlier church. Small vaulted room to NE housing 3 memorials to members of Baird family of Newbyth; 2 white marble plaques with family crest on N and S walls, large Baroque grey and white marble memorial of 1736 on W wall, also memorial to Margaret Steuart, white and grey marble by Richard Cooke 1804.

GRAVEYARD: enclosed by rubble coped, rubble walls with ashlar polygonal GATEPIERS to S and wrought-iron GATES, pedestrian gateway to right with stone arched overthrow adjoining Session House. Graveyard encloses other very fine 17th, 18th and 19th century memorials; Neo-classical Stevenson memorial adjoining N wall, grey ashlar with marble plaque in carved surround, also railed enclosure with ashlar plaques to Duncan family. Free-standing, Baroque carved memorials to Aitkens (1690?s).and Haliburtons (1760) to SE of church. To SW, ornate, free-standing, pedimented and pilastered memorial to Baxter family, 1737 with engaged caryatids carrying entablature at sides. Late 17th century table memorial to W of church to Straiton family of Tower Farm, elaborately carved with recumbent effigy within, damaged.

Graveyard extended early 20th century to W and to N with low ashlar walls and railings to Liberton Brae, 2 sets of ashlar gatepiers and gates to W, one to Kirkbrae to N. 1914-18 war memorial inside W gates to Liberton Brae.

OFFERTORY HOUSE: single storey, 2-bay building inside S gates, contemporary with and in same style as church with harled 20th century lean-to to E.. Timber boarded door to left, window to right each with square hoodmoulds. Arched window to N. Crowstepped gables, blind to S, polygonal stack to S. Retains timber fittings inside.

Statement of Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Built on the site of an earlier building which was burned and demolished (drawing in vestry, also illustrated in Ferenbach), the church tower is a prominent landmark. The church originally served a much larger parish than today including Gilmerton (see NSA). The Minister, James Begg, describes the interior of the church as unsatisfactory in the NSA of 1839, it was remodelled in 1882. The Straiton tabletop memorial to the W of the church has a carved end panel (W) depicting Liberton Tower and adjacent farmhouses as seen from the church, then known as Tower Mains.

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