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Portree Sheriff Court, Somerled Square, Portree

A Category C Listed Building in Portree, Highland

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Latitude: 57.4128 / 57°24'46"N

Longitude: -6.195 / 6°11'41"W

OS Eastings: 148179

OS Northings: 843602

OS Grid: NG481436

Mapcode National: GBR C924.57B

Mapcode Global: WGY6X.TY64

Entry Name: Portree Sheriff Court, Somerled Square, Portree

Listing Date: 5 October 1971

Last Amended: 10 September 2015

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405642

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB13923

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Portree

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Eilean á Chèo

Parish: Portree

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

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Matthews and Lawrie, 1865-77; alterations 1994-96. 2 storey, 3-bay, classical court house of tooled ashlar with polished and tooled ashlar dressings. Full height channelled angle pilasters. Band course at between ground and first floor. Slightly advanced and pedimented centre bay with long and short quoins and console bracketed corniced doorpiece. The principal elevation windows have moulded architraves and plain apron panels. Frieze, cornice and blocking course with large decorative terminal urns. Plain 5-bay return to the west elevation. Piended platform slate roof.

The interior, seen in 2014, is arranged with the courtroom and public offices on ground floor and a main courtroom on the 1st floor. The courtroom has a high ceiling with simple moulded cornicing. A timber doorway with 3-pane arched fanlight and heavy moulded architrave leads to the courtroom. The timber furniture, fixtures and fittings date to the 1990s refurbishment of the interior. Open well stone staircase with decorative metal banister and timber railing. Ancillary rooms have decorative cornicing and panelled doors. Timber panelling up to dado in hallways and staircase.

Statement of Interest

Portree Sheriff Court dates to 1876 and was designed by the successful Highland architectural practice Matthews and Lawrie. The building is a good example of civic architecture, and unusually for its period it is constructed in the classical style more often seen in early 19th century court house designs. Built from high quality materials, it has a distinctive and prominent street elevation, forming a focal point in the streetscape of Portree's main square.

Portree Sheriff Court was designed in 1865 and was completed before 1877. The court house first appears on the

The architectural partnership of James Matthews and William Lawrie ran from 1864 until 1887, with offices in Aberdeen and Inverness. Matthews and Lawrie were commissioned to design a number of court houses in the Highland region, such as Kingussie (1864), Lochmaddy (1875) and Fort William (1876).

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, however the architectural style at Portree was largely influenced by the classical style which often characterises court house buildings prior to 1860. 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. In the case of Portree, a jail was directly adjacent. The jail has since been demolished, however it has been replaced with a modern police station.

Category changed from B to C, statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Somerled Square Courthouse'.

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