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Terrace and walls including that attached to southeast gable, Battleblent House

A Category C Listed Building in Dunbar, East Lothian

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9948 / 55°59'41"N

Longitude: -2.546 / 2°32'45"W

OS Eastings: 366037

OS Northings: 678117

OS Grid: NT660781

Mapcode National: GBR ND2W.2B9

Mapcode Global: WH8VZ.VLS5

Plus Code: 9C7VXFV3+WH

Entry Name: Terrace and walls including that attached to southeast gable, Battleblent House

Listing Name: Battleblent House including former stables, potting shed and terrace at front and rear, and excluding 1970s shower block extension, Edinburgh Road, West Barns

Listing Date: 24 July 2020

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407334

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52546

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dunbar

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: Dunbar and East Linton

Parish: Dunbar

Traditional County: East Lothian

Description

Dating from around 1860, Battleblent House is a Y-plan, detached house topped by a single-storey hexagonal tower with a stone balustrade and squared piers. The house is predominantly two-storey and attic with one three-storey and attic elevation. Battleblent House is constructed in painted brick and has raised and painted sandstone margins, long and short quoins and a dentilled cornice. The house is built on an elevated site and has a raised terrace at the front of the property, which is accessed by stone steps. The battered terrace walls to the northwest and northeast are constructed in painted brick and have brick piers with stone balustrades and moulded, squared stone piers above. There is a terrace at the rear of the house with battered walls and a stone balustrade in the same style. There are stone steps leading from the garden towards the rear of the house.

The entrance (northwest) elevation has an advanced and pedimented, obliquely-set, single bay entrance gable. The entrance has a semi-circular fanlight in a moulded stone surround with a keystone carved with a dog's head. The door surround and quoins to the first floor cornice are reticulated blocks and smooth stonework on the remaining floors. The east elevation has an entrance with a simple canopy and the southwest elevation has three glazed two-leaf doors leading out on to a rear terrace.

The windows are of varying sizes, and all are four-pane glazing patterns in timber sash and case frames. The pitched roof is slated and has some later timber rooflights. There is a 'dummy' chimneystack, built of brick, at the apex of each gable and on the roof ridge. The building has straight stone skews and moulded skewputts.

The interior, seen in 2019, has a mid to late-19th century period style decorative scheme, with moulded cornicing, moulded architraves, ceiling roses, panelled timber doors and decorative window shutters in the principal rooms. There is a central spiral staircase with a wide cylindrical shaft ascending from the lower ground floor. The staircase has moulded iron balusters and a timber handrail from the ground floor upwards. The fire surrounds in the principal rooms appear to be later, replacement additions. The hexagonal tower is accessed from the top floor of the house via an iron entrance hatch.

The former stables is a single-storey, rectangular-plan building to the east of the house. It is constructed in brick and painted. It has a hayloft opening breaking the eaves of its piended and slated roof. The building has six-pane timber sash and case windows with plain cills and lintels. The former stables has a partitioned interior, mostly dating from the late-20th century when it was in use as office accommodation for the hotel. The building is not currently in use.

The potting shed is a brick-built, single-storey building to the southeast of the house with an entrance outshot to the front. It has a piended, slated roof with exposed rafter ends, and is not currently in use.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: 1970s shower block extension.

Historical development

Battleblent House was completed in the 1860s for William Brodie, the owner of the nearby Seafield Brick and Tile Works. The Brodie family are known to have been living in Battleblent House by 1868 (Edinburgh Evening Courant). William Brodie died in 1877 after which the house was lived in by his daughter, Marion Brodie Sheriff, until the early 20th century.

Battleblent House is shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised 1893) with a large conservatory attached to the southwest elevation of the house (as shown in historic photos). There is a rectangular-plan stables to the east of the house and a potting shed at the southeast corner of the garden.

In 1921 Battleblent House and grounds were bought by James Wilson of Duns who was a Justice of the Peace (The Scotsman). The house was lived in by his family and it offered seasonal lodging for guests. By 1934, Battleblent had become a hotel offering private tennis and putting for the increasing numbers of seaside tourists (The Scotsman).

Later Ordnance Survey maps show that the footprint of the house remains largely unchanged from that shown on the 2nd Edition map. During the mid-20th century, the conservatory was demolished and replaced by an extension containing a disco. This has since been removed. From around the 1970s part of the grounds became a caravan site. A shower block was added to the rear of the stable block for caravan visitors and the route of the drive was altered and extended to allow for increased traffic. The former stables was converted to offices and staff accommodation for the hotel.

Battleblent House closed as a hotel in the late 1990s. The house was converted back to a single dwelling around 2003.

Statement of Interest

Battleblent House, former stables, potting shed and terrace meet the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: 1970s shower block extension.

Design

Battleblent House is a distinctive mid to late-19th century detached house with an unusual Y-shaped plan form. Its three angled elevations are largely symmetrical and have good quality stonework details, such as their sandstone quoins and window and door margins, and dentilled cornicing below the roof eaves. The design of the house in the style of small country house with classical architectural detailing reflects the tastes and social aspirations of the first owner, William Brodie. The hexagonal tower and stone balustrade match stylistically with the terrace walls, and the tower is a striking feature designed to be prominent from the road.

The choice of building material is unusual for a house of this size and status. Brick is more often associated with industrial buildings, but its use here reflects the former owner and the industry he was involved in. The use of brick in the former stables, potting shed and terrace walls add further interest as together they form a group of functionally-related buildings and structures which are also of similar design. The bricks may have come from the Seafield Brick Works. The architect of Battleblent House is unknown.

The high quality interior decorative scheme is largely 19th century in character and style. This includes moulded cornicing with beaded detailing, moulded architraves, timber window shutters, panelled doors and fire surrounds. It is understood that some of the interior fabric is replacement and based on surviving elements of the interior, but the extent of the replacement fabric is not known.

The original plan form of Battleblent House, the former stables, the potting shed and terrace are largely retained. The loss of the glass conservatory from the rear of the house and the creation of additional entrance openings on the lower floor has not adversely affected the layout of the building.

The former stables and potting shed are functionally related buildings, whose survival are significant in our understanding of this small, private 19th century estate. The stables has largely retained its 19th century exterior front elevation and historic character. It is in close proximity to the house and the surviving fabric still continues to demonstrate its former use as a domestic stables, particularly its hayloft opening, for a mid to late-19th century house, but the interior has been altered.

Setting

The immediate setting of Battleblent House is of interest in listing terms because the former stables and potting shed survive, and they are contemporary with the house. Their brick construction further shows the functional and stylistic relationship between these buildings. The house largely remains within its large and enclosed private garden on a raised terrace, accessed by a private drive and surrounded by trees and established shrubs.

In terms of its wider setting, Battleblent House remains a distinctive building within the landscape because the upper half of the house, particularly the tower, is visible from the street. There has been minimal development of West Barns to the east and, as such, Battleblent House largely retains its semi-rural historic setting.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

The older a building is, and the fewer of its type that survive, the more likely it is to be of special interest. Houses of this size, dating from the mid to late-19th century, are found across Scotland and are not rare. Increasing prosperity in the late-19th century meant that people, particularly industrialists, could afford to build large houses for themselves.

The rarity of this house is primarily focussed on its unusual style, particularly its Y-shaped plan form and its building material. Its brick construction serves as a reminder of the connection to its previous owner, William Brodie, and the historic brick industry in this area of East Lothian.

Social historical interest

Large houses all have some social historical interest, as they show how their wealthy owners lived. Battleblent House was built for William Brodie, a local industrialist and owner of the Seafield Brick and Tile Works. The house is a built reminder of the social aspirations of its first owner, William Brodie, and adds to the social interest of the village of West Barns.

3.2.3 Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

William Brodie, and later his daughter Marion Brodie Sheriff, lived at Battleblent House and both owned successful brick and tileworks in East Lothian. The association is considered to be of local interest.

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