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Latitude: 55.9566 / 55°57'23"N
Longitude: -3.1747 / 3°10'28"W
OS Eastings: 326753
OS Northings: 674355
OS Grid: NT267743
Mapcode National: GBR 8SD.F6
Mapcode Global: WH6SM.6JHY
Entry Name: 17 Carlton Terrace Including Railings and Boundary Walls
Listing Date: 16 December 1965
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 397366
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49759
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: City Centre
Traditional County: Midlothian
Playfair, designed 1821-1825, built from late 1820s-mid 1830s. Part of long hairpin-curved terrace of 19 classical town houses; Nos 1-4 and 14-19, rectangular-plan houses with straight 3-bay front elevations; Nos 5-13, wedge-plan houses with curved 4-bay front elevations; predominantly 2-storey and basement with balustraded parapet; panelled parapets to Nos 1, 14 and 17. Droved ashlar to basements; polished ashlar to upper floors; predominantly coursed squared rubble with droved margins to side and rear elevations; No 17 rendered to W wallhead. Base course to basements; dividing band between basement and ground floors and ground and 1st floors; modillioned eaves cornice to front elevations, eaves band to rear elevations. Raised door surrounds with consoled cornices. Regular fenestration; architraved and corniced windows with panelled aprons to ground floor; architraved windows with cast-iron balconnettes to 1st floor.
N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: slightly advanced 3-storey and basement elevation with panelled parapet above modillioned cornice. To basement, timber-panelled door with 3-light fanlight to centre bay; windows to left and right bays. To ground floor, to right bay, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to inlaid marble panel to platt and 2-leaf timber-panelled door with rectangular fanlight. 2nd floor cill course.
S (REAR) ELEVATION: 2-bay elevation with additional central window to attic floor.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing; 15-pane glazing to 1st floor to front elevation; glazing predominantly in timber sash and case windows. Platform roof; graded grey slate to pitched section; stone skews and skewputts. To front, mutual rendered and ashlar to stacks to left and right; to rear, rendered mutual stacks to left and right; all stacks corniced with predominantly circular cans. Some cast-iron rainwater goods.
RAILINGS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: to front, edging basement recess and platt, stone coping surmounted by cast-iron railings with dog bars, spear-head finials and distinctive circled border; wrought iron lamp standard to right of platt. To rear, forming boundary of garden, random rubble walls with predominantly flat coping.
INTERIOR: to ground floor: to lobby, pilastered timber screen with central door and flanking lights, good plasterwork, compartmented ceiling. To 1st floor: former drawing room with good plasterwork including ceiling rose, non-original timber chimneypiece. To stair and stair hall: oval cupola in compartmented ceiling; stone stairs with cast-iron balusters (altered to 2nd floor); good plasterwork to ceiling, landings and ground floor.
Part of the Calton A-Group.
Currently (2003) subdivided into flats.
17 Carlton Terrace was the first house in Carlton Terrace to be completed and inhabited; it was built by John Neill, a builder who feued 4 plots in Carlton Terrace and 4 in Royal Terrace. In 1830 No 17 was complete, and it was Neill himself who became the first inhabitant. He and his family were for two years the only residents of Carlton Terrace until others began to move in 1832.
In 1838, the house was let by Neill to a man who claimed to be the Earl of Stirling. Since 1824 the man (whose real name was Alexander Humphreys) had succeeded in deceiving the peerage into accepting him as a genuine peer. In 1839 the deception was uncovered and Humphreys brought to trial; several other residents of the three terraces were called as witnesses. Following the trial, which returned a Not Proven verdict, Humphreys fled the country.
In the latter part of the 20th century No 17, along with Nos 15 and 16 was used by the South Edinburgh School of Nursing
Carlton Terrace forms part of the showpiece of Playfair's Eastern New Town (or Calton) scheme, and as such is an important example of the work of one of Scotland's leading early 19th century architects. Playfair was one of the major driving forces of the Greek Revival in Edinburgh at this time, and his public commissions such as the National Monument, the Royal Institution and the National Gallery (see separate listings) gave strength to Edinburgh's reputation as the Athens of the North. The Calton Scheme was one of his few domestic commissions, and the variety of designs, different for each street, demonstrates Playfair's expertise with the Grecian style and his characteristic punctilious attention to detail. The railings are important as their design features distinctive elements which Playfair repeated in large areas of the Calton scheme.
The origins of the Eastern New Town, which was to occupy the east end of Calton Hill and lands to the north of it on the ground between Easter Road and Leith Walk, lie in a 'joint plan for building' which three principal feuars (Heriot's Hospital, Trinity Hospital and Mr Allan of Hillside) entered into in 1811. In 1812 a competition was advertised for plans for laying out the grounds in question. Thirty-two plans were received, displayed and reported on by a variety of people, including eight architects. Eventually, it was decided that none of the plans was suitable. However, it was a more general report by William Stark (who died shortly after submitting it) which caught the attention of the Commissioners and formed the basis of the final scheme. Stark's central argument stressed the importance of planning around the natural contours and features of the land rather than imposing formal, symmetrical street plans upon it. After several years of little or no progress, in 1818 the Commissioners finally selected William Henry Playfair, Stark's former pupil, to plan a scheme following his master's Picturesque ideals.
The resulting scheme, presented to the Commissioners in 1819, preserved the view of and from Calton Hill by the creation of a limited triangular development of the three single-sided terraces (to make the most of the spectacular views), Royal, Regent and Carlton (originally known as Carlton Place, named after the Prince Regent's Carlton House in London), on the hill itself. These looked over a huge radial street pattern, centred on the gardens of Hillside Crescent, on the land to the north. The feuing of these lower lands started well, with Elm Row, Leopold Place, Windsor Street and the west side of Hillside Crescent being built fairly swiftly. Carlton Terrace was marked out in plots in 1826, and building began slowly the following year; the majority of houses were not complete until the 1830s. Meanwhile, demand for the feus in other streets of the scheme faltered severely, due to the growing popularity of new properties being built to the west of the New Town. This had a particularly bad effect on Royal Terrace, where construction stopped for 20 years, leaving 2 large gaps in the Terrace and a further 3 unbuilt feus to the west end. The fate of the whole Calton scheme was sealed in 1838, when it was decided that feuars should pay poor-rates to both Edinburgh and Leith. This virtually halted development for the next thirty years. The result of all these problems was that very little of Playfair's original scheme was ever built. When building resumed in the 1880s, some of Playfair's original street lines were adhered to, as was the case with Hillside Crescent, and in others such as Brunton Place, Brunswick Street, Hillside Street (originally to be a longer street called Hopeton Street), and Wellington Street (also curtailed). However, due to piecemeal residential, industrial and transport developments immediately to the north, it would have been impossible to further follow Playfair's original layout, even if this had been considered desirable.
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