History in Structure

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Lauriston Place, George Heriot's School, Main Building

A Category A Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9459 / 55°56'45"N

Longitude: -3.1947 / 3°11'40"W

OS Eastings: 325485

OS Northings: 673186

OS Grid: NT254731

Mapcode National: GBR 8NJ.D1

Mapcode Global: WH6SL.WTX5

Entry Name: Lauriston Place, George Heriot's School, Main Building

Listing Date: 25 July 1966

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 365357

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB27980

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: City Centre

Traditional County: Midlothian

Find accommodation in
Edinburgh

Description

William Wallace, William Ayton, John Mylne, Robert Mylne, 1628-93. Gillespie Graham, 1837-40 (refitting chapel), John Anderson, 1908 (alterations to interior). 2 storey and attic Scots Renaissance/Northern Mannerist quadrangular private school; 4-stage 3-bay square plan bartizaned corner towers with corbelled parapets, gargoyles and projecting rainwater spouts, 5-stage clock tower with lanterned octagonal dome at centre of N elevation, and ogee-roofed semi-octagonal towers to centre of S, W and E elevations. Square plan: 4 ranges built round central quadrangle; arcaded loggia with fluted pilasters to N and E; octagonal stair towers in internal corners. Ravelston sandstone ashlar to N elevation, Craigleith to S, W and E (see Notes). Moulded dividing band between ground and 1st floors, cill courses at 2nd and 3rd. Buckle quoins to towers; aedicular windows in moulded surrounds with exuberant strapwork carving in pediments.

N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 2-bay, 5-stage clock tower to centre; depressed-arched entrance to pend leading to inner court, with massive decoratively panelled 2-leaf timber door, flanked by paired Doric columns on tall pedestals; textured rustication to voussoirs; 4 carved panels in frieze (see Notes); cornice (supported by ornate consoles) surmounted by 4 carved obelisks; aedicule between 1st floor windows containing Heriot's arms and surmounted by enriched pediment (see Notes), flanked by barley-sugar Corinthian columns; clock (dated 1836) set in segmental-arched 2-light window at 5th stage; stone-domed octagonal bell tower with shell niches, lantern and weathervane (see Notes); 4-storey towers to outer left and right with enriched corbelled parapets and finialled, ogee-roofed bartizans. Recessed 4-bay intervening sections (centre bays blank with wallhead stacks); attics built up in 1642, absorbing windows, whose dormerheads remain.

E AND W ELEVATIONS: 4-stage ogee-roofed semi-octagonal stair towers to centre. Bartizanned towers to outer left and right; 3-bay linking sections.

S ELEVATION: tall semi-octagonal bay to centre rising beyond roof-line to elaborately finialled ogee half-dome with pierced quatrefoils at cornice level; 3 pointed-arched hoodmoulded leaded windows to chapel, flanked by 2 pointed-arched hoodmoulded windows in adjoining bays (all with perpendicular tracery); traceried circular windows above. 2 dormers in attic. Bartizanned towers to outer left and right.

N INTERIOR ELEVATION: depressed-arched entrance to vaulted pend at centre, flanked by paired fluted Doric pilasters; statue of George Heriot by Robert Mylne in scallop-headed aediculed niche with facetted shafts at 1st floor, flanked by aediculed windows (see Notes); richly carved pediment with initials GH; decorative sundial above. 3-bay arcaded loggia flanking entrance pend; portrait busts in cartouches to pediments of 2nd floor windows.

W INTERIOR ELEVATION: rusticated round-arched doorway (entrance to refectory) in centre, with broken scrolled pediment, Doric frieze with stars and mullets (from Heriot arms) on metopes and inscription (GEORGE HERIOT JEWELLER) in pediment (see Notes); carved panel at 1st floor level with Heriot arms and motto (I DISTRIBUTE CHEARFULLIE); sundial in chimney gable. Carvings representing the 4 continents, Death, Adam and Eve in pediments of attic windows.

S INTERIOR ELEVATION: richly ornamented key-consoled round-arched doorway to chapel at centre, flanked by paired Corinthian columns on decorative pedestals, with broken scrolled segmental pediment containing aedicule with inscribed panel, flanked by caryatids (see Notes); elaborately-finialled semi-ogee-roofed oriel turret with traceried windows, pierced quatrefoils at cornice level above (does not light chapel). Pointed-arched hoodmoulded windows with perpendicular tracery in flanking bays; circular windows with Heriot rose and mullet in plate tracery above.

E INTERIOR ELEVATION: 7-bay arcaded loggia with fluted Doric pilasters at ground; aedicule to centre at 1st floor with inscription (see Notes). Carvings representing the 4 Evangelists, King David and King Solomon in attic pediments; decorative sundial in chimney gable.

INTERIOR: much altered when adapted for day pupils (1908, John Anderson), except:

COUNCIL CHAMBER: ground floor SW tower. Furnished 1690. Oak panelled, including richly carved frieze and cornice; fluted Corinthian pilasters framing bolection-moulded fireplace (glazed Dutch tiles, under-painted cat and dog) and overmantel (shield with Heriot arms and motto in festooned wreath); panelled doors with moulded architraves, and cornices. Black and white marble tiles to floor (originally from chapel). Furniture by Trotter. Coffered plaster ceiling with egg-and-dart moulding (later). Tunnel-vaulted CHARTER ROOM adjoining.

REFECTORY: large flat-arched stone fireplace at either end; squat Corinthian pilasters and Heriot arms in broken segmental pediment to S, bust and monogram in triangular pediment flanked by obelisks to N. Studded timber doors in moulded stone architraves. Later compartmented plaster ceiling.

CHAPEL: Gothic interior, Gillespie Graham, 1837, probably to designs by Pugin (see Notes). Gothic arched roof trusses supported by gilded angels bearing heraldic shields; compartmented, cusped ceiling. Gothic oak panelling to walls; tall crocketted pulpit (originally in oriel window recess - see Notes). Oak benches with fleur-de-lys carving to ends. 2-leaf Gothic panelled door in Tudor-arched doorway, framed by carved pilasters terminating in crown-shaped finials, with decorative frieze and inscription GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO. Stained glass in leaded windows with crests of noble Scottish families and arms of Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh.

12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Leaded roofs (pitched to S,E and W, flat to N); ball-finialled lead roofs to towers and turrets (except bell tower), Heriot arms cast in roofs of chapel turrets. Scrolled stone skews. Decorative cast-iron down pipes with gargoyles to courtyard corners, fluted hoppers to exterior. Decorative cast-iron lamps on monogrammed stone brackets. Tall decoratively corniced fluted octagonal chimney stalks.

Statement of Interest

The A Group comprises the main building, the Examination Hall, the Chemistry Block, the Preparatory and Technology Blocks, the Science Block and the gatehouse, terraces, War Memorial, boundary walls railings and gates. George Heriot (died 1624), goldsmith and money-lender to James VI and Queen Ann, left ?23,625 to found a school/hospital for 'poor fatherless bairns.' Heriot's nephew, Walter Balcanquhall, who was one of his executors, provided a 'patterne,' seemingly based on a plan in Serlio's 7th Book of Architecture . Other probable sources of the building's architectural details include Vignola's Villa Farnese at Caprarola from his Cinque Regole, published in 1562 (refectory doorway) and Francini's treatise on architecture, published in 1631 (chapel doorway). Danish royal buildings, such as the palace at Elsinore are also an influence. The foundation stone was laid on 1st July 1628. Construction was overseen by royal master mason William Wallace, who had also worked at Linlithgow (N wing) and at Winton, both of which show significant similarities Heriot's. Wallace was succeeded after his death in 1631 by William Aytoun, who built the square entrance tower. The building was commandeered by Cromwell's forces in 1650 for use as a hospital, and finally opened 11th April 1659. The ocatagonal dome and lantern were built by Robert Mylne in 1693. Gordon of Rothiemay shows the tower roofed with a crown spire, and ogee roofs to the SE and SW towers. Slezer shows the entrance tower with a pitched roof, prior to the building of the lanterned bell tower, and ogee roofs to the SE and SW towers. The N elevation, approached via Heriot Bridge, was the show front, dominating the Grassmarket and impressively viewed from the castle. Originally only this elevation was ashlar-faced (from Ravelston quarry), the S, E and W elevations being of harled rubble, until faced with Craigleith stone by Alexander Black in 1833. The carved panels in the frieze over the entrance show a goldsmith in his workshop with the inscription FUNDENDO FUNDAVI (by founding I have founded), Charity with a widow and her children and the inscription HIS COR INCALUIT (towards these my heart has warmed), 5 boys dressed in the uniform of Christ's Hospital, London, their guardians and the motto SIC DEUS, UT VOS EOS (may God treat you as you treat them) and a class of pupils with their teachers with the motto DEUS NOBIS HAEC OTIA FECIT (God hath given us this leisure). Robert Mylne's statue of Heriot was copied from a portrait by Paul van Somer, a copy of which (by Scougal) hangs in the Council Room, along with a portrait of James Jackson (Treasurer to the Trust, 1804) by Raeburn, a former pupil of the school. Inscription in frieze over statue reads CORPORIS HAEC, ANIMI EST HOC OPUS EFIGIES (this statue represents my body, this work my soul). Inscription over chapel entrance reads AURIFICI DEDERAT MIHI VIS DIVINA PERENNEM ET FACERE IN TERRIS IN CAELO ET FERRE {CORONAM} (Power divine hath granted it to me, a goldsmith, to make on earth, and to wear in heaven, an everlasting crown. Inscription on E aedicule reads HONOUR THE LORD WITH THY RICHES AND WITH THE FIRST OF ALL THINE INCREASE SO SHALL THY BARNES BE FILLED WITH ABUNDANCE; TO DO GOOD & TO DISTRIBUTE FORGETT NOT FOR WITH SUCH SACRIFICES GOD IS PLEASED. The chapel was originally fitted out using materials from the Leith Citadel (demolished 1673). It was refurbished in 1787, with Adamesque Gothick detailing. Gillespie Graham offered to prepare a new scheme without charge in 1833. In 1836 a tender by Trotter was accepted for the fitting out. Gordon of Rothiemay and Slezer show the building surrounded by terraced parterres. In September 1661 the first governors instructed the gerdener that the grounds 'be planted with herbs sort of phisical, medicinal and other herbs such as the country can afford, conform to the fullest catalogue that can be had, that such who intend to studie herbs may have full access there.' On the assumption that these instructions were carried out, the grounds of Heriot's Hospital would have possessed one of the earliest botanic gardens in Britain.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.