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Latitude: 56.1215 / 56°7'17"N
Longitude: -3.9382 / 3°56'17"W
OS Eastings: 279603
OS Northings: 693774
OS Grid: NS796937
Mapcode National: GBR 1C.L979
Mapcode Global: WH4P6.GDXK
Plus Code: 9C8R43C6+HP
Entry Name: Stirling Sheriff Court, Viewfield Place, Stirling
Listing Name: Stirling Sheriff Court including boundary walls and gatepiers, and excluding later extension to east, Viewfield Place, Stirling
Listing Date: 4 November 1965
Last Amended: 9 September 2015
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 405621
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB41108
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Stirling North
Traditional County: Stirlingshire
Principal (west) elevation: 5-bay centre flanked by advanced crowstepped gabled bay and set back corbelled turrets with candle snuffer roof. Central entrance porch with basket-arched doorway and elaborate crocketted hoodmould, arcaded balustrade with panelled piers and mock griffon gargoyles and topped by elaborate shaped finials with crown. Moulded, lugged and corniced surrounds to first floor windows. Those to advanced gables and windows flanking centre with elaborately carved scrolled and cartouched pediments. 3 dormer windows to central section with elaborately shaped pedimented dormerheads. Gabletted ventilators with bargeboarding and finial. 2-storey, roughly symmetrical addition to right in similar style. 6 light window flanked by porches with triangular pedimented doorpieces and balustrade with carved lion to corner piers. Triangular pediment window over porch to left. First floor window with carved pedimented and under crowstepped gable, all flanked by pair of tall square and corbelled stacks.
Predominantly plate glass in timber sash and case windows. Slated roofs, piended and platformed with decorative iron brattishing. Panelled and corniced ashlar stacks.
The interior, seen in 2014, is arranged around a west facing courtroom at first floor characterised by panelled fixtures and fittings. Entrance hall with compartmented ceiling. Half-turn stone staircase with decorative cast iron balustrade topped by timber handrail. Dentilled cornice beneath panelled and coombed ceiling over stair. Corniced doorpiece with panelled jambs to court. Courtroom 1 with panelled timber Judge's bench and panelled timber rear wall with integral canopy over bench, set within a tall recess with decorative plasterwork, flanked by round arched alcoves. Witness box with canopy, curved dock, raked public seating. Splayed window jambs with geometric detailing. Hammer beam timber roof trusses on corbels, with turned pendant details at hammer-post and centre. Courtroom 3 (to north of courtroom 1) is characterised by panelled timber fixtures and dentil cornice to coombed ceiling (similarly detailed to that over the main staircase). Replacement public seating in courtroom 3. Extensive basement comprising rectangular spaces with barrel vaulted ceilings. Some timber fireplaces and moulded cornicing. Panelled timber doors set in timber architraves.
Low coped ashlar wall topped by decorative iron railing. Pair of square gatepiers with pyramidal caps and cast iron gates to right of principal elevation.
Stirling Sheriff Court is a significant example of civic architecture and forms a focal point in the streetscape of Stirling city centre. Designed by the prolific court architect, Thomas Brown II, it is elaborately detailed with carved stonework to the exterior including an imposing central entrance porch with mock gargoyles, elaborately carved pediments and shaped pedimented dormerheads. The interior is also of high quality, retaining much of its mid-19th century decorative scheme, including finely detailed timberwork to the main courtroom and a well-detailed main staircase.
Stirling Sheriff Court was constructed in 1874-6 to an 1864 design by Thomas Brown II, of Brown and Wardrop. The 1864 design was for a court house adjoining an 1867 prison, also by Wardrop, on St John Street (see separate listing). Wardrop's successor architectural practice of Wardrop and Reid modified his 1864 design for the Viewfield Place site. Stirling Sheriff Court replaced an 1806 County Court House, which adjoins the early 18th century Tolbooth on St John Street (see separate listings).
On the Ordnance Survey map of 1898, Stirling Sheriff Court is shown as a rectangular plan building with slightly advanced wings to the principal elevation. To the rear of the court house was a rectangular plan building and attached to it by a small linking section. This building was used as a prison and warden's accommodation. In 1912 a police station was built in a similar style and adjoining the north of the court house. In the 1970s the prison and warden's accommodation was demolished and replaced with a 2/3 storey L-plan wing, providing further courtrooms, offices and police docking bay.
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.
The circa 1970s extension to the west is not considered to be of special interest at the time of the listing review (2014-15).
Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Sheriff Court Buildings Viewfield Place'.
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