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Dean Free Church Hostel, Belford Road, Edinburgh

A Category B Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.9509 / 55°57'3"N

Longitude: -3.2204 / 3°13'13"W

OS Eastings: 323888

OS Northings: 673771

OS Grid: NT238737

Mapcode National: GBR 8HG.57

Mapcode Global: WH6SL.HPP9

Plus Code: 9C7RXQ2H+9R

Entry Name: Dean Free Church Hostel, Belford Road, Edinburgh

Listing Name: 6 Douglas Gardens, Belford Road, Former Belford Church

Listing Date: 15 June 1965

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395546

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48133

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: City Centre

Traditional County: Midlothian

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Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, 1888. Basilica plan, late Gothic former church set on prominent corner site with large vaulted basements on ground falling to N; dominated by 4-stage tower to NW with octagonal belfry and flying buttresses. Nave and aisles with single transept to N and 3-sided apse to E. Squared and snecked red sandstone with some ashlar quoins. Interior believed to be of high quality (see Notes).

W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: prominent finialed gable, roughly 3 bays with 2-bay tower to left (N). Large angled entrance platt oversailing basement. Moulded base course at ground floor becoming string course to left (N); further moulded string course above. Moulded cill course at 1st floor to left. Buttressed set back corner angles. Pair of 2-leaf doors to Main entrance in moulded pointed arched surround with colonettes to sides and burning bush tympanum above. Flanked by paired lancet windows with quatrefoil over. Large, slightly recessed lancet windows at 1st floor with shallow moulding to pointed arch; small moulded roundel above.

TOWER: tall rectangular-plan 4-stage tower. 2 plain stages to base with round arched doorway to N elevation; triangular hoodmold and trefoil tympanum, some blind arcading to either side of pediment. Paired, moulded string courses. Paired lancet windows above with further smaller lancet windows at 2nd stage. 3rd stage: octagonal belfry with stepped and flying buttresses, pointed arched lancet windows with louvers. Moulded band course; balustraded 4th stage above, also octagonal. Moulded finials to balustrade piers. Glazed lancet windows; balustraded parapet to lucarned spire of red tiles.

N (BELFORD ROAD) ELEVATION: roughly 4 bays, 3 storeys. Advanced gable end to left (E) of transept with lower buttressed range in re-entrant angle between transept and tower; narrow nave clerestory further recessed above. Small 2-storey block to E of transept in angle between transept and apse. Deep banded base course. Paired moulded band courses at 1st floor, stepped over buttress to left (E). Pointed arched surrounds at ground floor with sandstone transoms and mullions; rectangular surrounds to transept gable with ashlar cills lintels and rybats. Lancet windows at 1st floor to right (W) with pointed arched hoodmold. Large pointed arched windows to transept gable and apse, sandstone transomed and mullioned paired lancets with quatrefoil above. Arcaded lancet windows to clerestory.

INTERIOR: believed to be well detailed with alternating round and octagonal columns to nave and hammerbeam roof.

Predominantly small pane glazing, some stained glass to nave and transept by the Bromsgrove Guild (1920s). Pitched roof with clay ridge; westmorland slates. Cast-iron railings on ashlar copes edging basement recess to street. Cast iron rainwater goods.

Statement of Interest

Belford Church is a well detailed late Gothic composition on a very prominent corner site by influential practice of Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, originally known as the Dean Free Church. The design makes very clever use of the falling ground, with the former church hall located in the deep basements to Belford Road. The whole building articulates an important corner, lining a major route into the city from the N. The tower is particularly impressive, and is an important landmark for the Dean Village over which it dominates the skyline. The gatepiers were removed in 1992 and relocated to East Lothian, whilst the font was removed to Well Court (also by Sydney Mitchell - see separate listing). The church is now in use as a hostel (2008).

Original architects' drawings and secondary sources suggest a fine interior with alternating round and octagonal piers to the nave with moulded capitals. Corbelled clusters of attached columns support the hammerbeam roof above. The use of 17th century sources is characteristic of Sydney Mitchell at this time, he worked in the Scots Renaissance style throughout the 1880's and 1890's. The interior is known to contain stained glass by the Bromsgrove Guild in the apse and N transept. An 1883 Gothic marble relief tablet of Sir Henry Wellwood Moncrieff by Hippolyte J Blanc also featured in the original interior scheme.

Sydney Mitchell and Wilson were a prolific practice who completed a number of commissions in the West End and Dean Village. Most of this work was for J Findlay the editor of the Scotsman, for whom they completed 3 Rothesay Terrace (see separate listing) and Well Court (see separate listing). The work at Well Court also uses the red sandstone. The practice was responsible for a number of important churches including Crichton Memorial Church (see separate listing), and it was also known for commercial and residential design that the practice was best known. This commission is amongst the earliest of Mitchell's partnership with George Wilson who became a partner in 1887. In addition to being architects for the Commercial Bank of Scotland shortly after the practice also became architects to the Board of Lunacy for Scotland. Mitchell was an excellent designer, equally comfortable with public and private works and a master at combining various architectural styles.

(List description revised 2009 as part of re-survey.)

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