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Selkirk Sheriff Court and Justice Of The Peace Court, including gatepiers, railings and boundary walls, Ettrick Terrace, Selkirk

A Category B Listed Building in Selkirk, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.5484 / 55°32'54"N

Longitude: -2.8429 / 2°50'34"W

OS Eastings: 346915

OS Northings: 628624

OS Grid: NT469286

Mapcode National: GBR 84L8.9W

Mapcode Global: WH7WV.9SHW

Entry Name: Selkirk Sheriff Court and Justice Of The Peace Court, including gatepiers, railings and boundary walls, Ettrick Terrace, Selkirk

Listing Date: 11 December 1996

Last Amended: 10 September 2015

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405598

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB43747

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Selkirk

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Selkirkshire

Traditional County: Selkirkshire

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David Rhind, 1868-70. Predominantly 3-storey with attic and basement, square-plan court house in richly detailed, asymmetrical Scots Baronial style sited on steeply-sloping high ground to the northwest of Selkirk town centre. Rough-faced sandstone with droved ashlar dressings. Base course. Corbelled string course between ground and first floor. Crowstepped gables and dormers. Stop-chamfered window margins. Corbelled round turrets with conical caps and cast iron finials. Large round 5-storey donjon tower parapet to outer left of rear (northwest) elevation with corbelled parapet of ashlar dies alternating with key-stoned round arches.

Principal (southeast) elevation with roll-moulded door surround to centre with rope-carved hood-mould and knotted stops. 2-leaf panelled door with semi-circular plate glass fanlight. Canted oriel window above at first and second floors with piended ashlar roof set in crow-stepped dormer. Corner-angle corbelled tower to right of centre with small window at first floor and round window at second floor. Southwest elevation engaged square-plan tower with crowstepped gable flanked by 2-bay crowstepped gables with wallhead stack. Bays to right of centre set back with 4 round-arched projecting arcade at ground and shield to gable-head. Northwest elevation with circular-plan full-height engaged tower in bay to inner left, corbelled to square at 3rd floor with crow-stepped gable; window to each floor.

4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Grey slate roof. Ashlar and bull-faced sandstone stacks.

The interior, seen in 2014, is arranged around a courtroom at first floor with panelled timber fixtures. Much of the 19th century room plan appears to remain intact. Glazed vestibule with internal 2-leaf door. Barley-sugar cast-iron banister to principal staircase. Main courtroom has timber-panelled Judge's bench with round-arched white marble chimneypiece and cast iron grate to wall behind bench. Central dock enclosed by cast-iron railings and timber handrail and with timber pop-up hatch floor leading down three flights of enclosed stairs to basement cells. Panelled timber jury box and well barrier, raked timber public seating, timber boarded dado, lugged architraves and curved trussed roof with corbels. Replacement seating to jury box. Sheriff's room (adjacent to court) with black marble chimneypiece, plaster ceiling rose and coved ceiling. Round-plan jurors' room within rear tower with plain plasterwork, timber-grained shutters and timber chimneypiece. Plasterwork to hall; timber panelled doors (new fittings).

Whinstone rubble boundary wall with coping, lowered in proximity of building; cast iron railings; square-plan ashlar gatepiers with ball finials.

Statement of Interest

Designed by the pre-eminent architect, David Rhind, in 1868 Selkirk Sheriff Court is a rich and well-detailed court house built after the 1860 Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860, constructed from quality materials and featuring a wealth of Scottish Baronial detailing. These details include crow-step gables, corner towers, round tower with parapet, narrow windows and rough-faced ashlar stonework, imparting a strong sense of security and authority that is highly appropriate for the building's legal function. It is one of the most prominent and conspicuous buildings in the town, adding considerably to the architectural interest of the streetscape and to our understanding of Scotland's legal and civic legacy.

Designed by the pre-eminent architect, David Rhind, in 1868 Selkirk Sheriff Court is a richly detailed public court building in the Scottish Baronial manner with crow-step gables, pepper-pot turrets, a full-height circular tower with pierced parapet, narrow window openings and rough-faced ashlar stonework. Much of the interior scheme at Selkirk survives within the main courtroom at first floor including well-detailed timber fixtures and fittings, such as a curved timber truss roof with corbels. Sited near the highest point in the town on a steeply-sloping ground the court house is one of the most prominent and conspicuous buildings in the town, adding considerably to the architectural interest of the streetscape, and is opposite the former prison opposite (now the local library).

David Rhind (1808-1883) began training as an architect in circa 1828 in the offices of A C Pugin and completed his training in Italy. Working in a variety of styles from Gothic to Baronial to neoclassical, Rhind was a prominent designer of commercial buildings, notably in his role as principal architect to the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Rhind served as an architect to the Prison Board and designed many courts, such as Wick (1862-66), Dumfries (1863-5) and Selkirk (1867) (see separate listings). His court house designs were varied, often with reference to traditional tower house architecture and the Baronial style for bold sculptural effects. This is demonstrated emphatically at Selkirk Sheriff Court. The knotted rope (or hauser) above the main entrance is a signature flourish by Rhind, found at other courts and county buildings by the architect, including Dumfries Sheriff Court.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and the provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date.

Court houses constructed after 1860 generally had a solely legal purpose and did not incorporate a prison, other than temporary holding cells. The courts were designed in a variety of architectural styles but often relied heavily on Scots Baronial features to reference the fortified Scottish building tradition. Newly constructed court buildings in the second half of the 19th century dispensed with large public spaces such as county halls and instead provided bespoke office accommodation for the sheriff, judge and clerks, and accommodated the numerous types of court and holding cells.

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Ettrick Terrace, Sheriff Court With Boundary Walls, Railings and Gatepiers'.

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