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11 and 12 Royal Terrace, Including Railings and Boundary Walls

A Category A Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9567 / 55°57'24"N

Longitude: -3.1796 / 3°10'46"W

OS Eastings: 326448

OS Northings: 674372

OS Grid: NT264743

Mapcode National: GBR 8RD.F5

Mapcode Global: WH6SM.4J5V

Entry Name: 11 and 12 Royal Terrace, Including Railings and Boundary Walls

Listing Date: 16 December 1965

Last Amended: 14 December 1970

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397430

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49809

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: City Centre

Traditional County: Midlothian

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Leith

Description

William Playfair, designed 1820-4; No 11 and 12 built between 1823 and early 1830s. Part of extremely long 121-bay palace front terrace of townhouses with arched and rusticated ground floor; to centre, 3-storey section punctuated by three 3-storey and attic Corinthian colonnaded pavilions; to left and right flanking 3-storey balustraded sections leading to 3-storey sections with 3-storey and attic Ionic colonnaded pavilions; 2-storey balustraded sections to outer left and right; basements to all houses. Droved ashlar to basement; V-chamfered rustication to ground floor; polished ashlar to upper floors; predominantly coursed squared rubble with dressed margins to rear elevation. To principal elevation: base course; dividing band between basement and ground floor; impost course to ground floor; dividing band between ground and 1st floors; to 1st floor, narrow band course broken by window to each bay. Regular fenestration to principal elevation; predominantly regular fenestration to rear elevation; to ground floor, round-headed openings in round-headed overarches.

N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 2-storey, basement and attic, 3-bay elevation to No 11; 3-bay, 3-storey and basement elevation to No 12. To basement, to No 11, timber-panelled door with segmental 3-light fanlight to centre, windows to left and right bays; to No 12, timber and glazed door with 3-light fanlight to centre, window to left, both in segmentally-headed openings; to right, wall with window blocking off area under platt; all in segmentally-headed openings. To ground floor, to left bay of No 11, steps and platt overarching basement recess, leading to timber-panelled door with flanking margin lights and segmental fanlight; windows to remaining bays; to right bay of No 12, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door with flanking 4-light margin lights and segmental fanlight with petal style glazing. Cast-iron balconnettes to 1st floor windows; band course below eaves; Eaves cornice; balustraded parapet. To roof, 2 dormer windows to No 11.

S (REAR) ELEVATION: to No 11, 3-bay elevation; 2-bay elevation to No 12; band course between basement and ground floors and between ground and 1st floors; eaves cornice; blocking course.

GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing; to front elevation, plate glass to ground and 1st floors to No 11; 17-pane glazing to ground floor and 15-pane glazing to 1st floor to No 12; all glazing in timber sash and case windows. Double-pitch roof with central valleys; mansard profile to front elevation; graded grey slate. To front elevation, to centre, mutual raised wallhead stack, to left and right, mutual corniced ashlar ridge stacks, all surmounted by linked octagonal flues; to rear elevation, rendered corniced ridge stack to left, raised ashlar mutual wallhead stack to centre and right; predominantly circular cans.

RAILINGS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: to front, edging basement recesses and platts, stone coping surmounted by cast-iron railings with dog bars, spear-head finials and distinctive circled border; wrought-iron gas lamp standard. To rear, forming boundary of gardens, high random rubble walling with flat coping.

INTERIOR: to No 11: to ground floor: to lobby, encaustic tiled floor, round-headed niche to left, compartmented ceiling, good ornamental plasterwork, shallow-relief panel borders to walls, leading to stair hall, pilastered and corniced doorpiece with margin lights; to former dining room, corniced doorpieces, good plasterwork and classical black slate chimneypiece; to rear room (W), apsidal ended, good plasterwork, classical black slate chimneypiece. To 1st floor; rooms subdivided; 2 classical white chimneypieces, some good plasterwork. To stairs and landings: cast-iron balusters; cast-iron tray rest to 1st floor; oval cupola in compartmented ceiling; good plasterwork to landings and stairwell ceiling. To No 12: to ground floor: to lobby, round-headed niche to right, compartmented ceiling, to opening leading to stair hall pilastered and corniced doorpiece with margin lights, good plasterwork including 3 plaster bas-reliefs (see Notes); to former dining room, corniced doorpieces; to rear room (W), apsidal end, classical black slate chimneypiece, good plasterwork, architraved panels to walls. To 1st floor: to former drawing room and rear (W) room, classical grey marble chimneypieces, corniced doorpieces, good plasterwork (some of which hidden under suspended ceilings. To stairs and landings: cast-iron balusters, cast-iron tray rest to 2nd floor landing; oval cupola in compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork to ceiling and landings.

Statement of Interest

Part of the Calton A-Group.

Currently (2003) in use as the Adria Hotel.

11 and 12 Royal Terrace were built as a group with 10 Royal Terrace.

The central plaque in the lobby of No 12 depicts ' The Massacre of the Innocents'; the plaque to the left may depict Minerva (often depicted with an owl); the plaque to right may be Flora (goddess of flowers).

Royal 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 of 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 massive scale of Royal Terrace, in conjunction with Playfair's characteristic attention to detail (for instance the decision to site houses on one side of the Terrace only, in order to capitalise on the spectacular views), make this one of his most impressive schemes. When designing Royal Terrace, Playfair also rejected the conventional palace front with its distinctive central pavilion; he instead chose a more subtle distribution of pavilions, creating a discreet accumulation of emphasis towards the centre of the terrace through the use of attic storeys and Ionic and Corinthian Orders.

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 three single-sided terraces 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. However, demand for the feus 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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