47 AND 49 MORTONHALL GATE, MORTONHALL HOUSE WITH TERRACES, FOUNTAIN STATUE PLINTH AND BURIAL GROUND (Ref:28096)
This building is in the Edinburgh, City Of Council and the
It is a category A building and was listed on 14/07/1966.
Group Items: N/A,
Group Cat: N/A,
Map Ref: NT 26190 68369.
Probably John Baxter Jnr, 1769, alterations circa 1835 including porch and service wing (possibly David Bryce), interior remodelled circa 1795, later decoration c.1840 by Thomas Bonnar of D R Hay & Co. Large classical villa with fine decorative scheme to principal rooms. 3-storey over basement, 3-central bays advanced and pedimented front and rear. Squared and coursed cream ashlar with polished ashlar dressings, rusticated quoins from 1st floor upwards, moulded base course, band course, raised ashlar margins at 2nd floor. Ground floor treated plainly; all margins flush, and 1st floor built slightly recessed over band course. Timber sash and case windows with 12-pane glazing pattern.
NW ELEVATION: advanced, pedimented central bay with entrance at ground floor; steps to later (circa 1835) aedicular porch supported on arch over basement area, with paired Greek Doric columns and pediment. Original consoled doorway, later timber panelled door. Windows flanking at ground floor and basement (half-height at basement), 3 taller windows at 1st floor, outer windows with triangular pediments, rounded pediment to central bay. 3 windows to 2nd floor, oculus in Gibbs surround to tympanum lighting attic, dies to pediment. Outer recessed bays with windows to each floor, taller and corniced at 1st floor.
SE ELEVATION: no access from house onto terrace. Treatment of elevation as above, except outer windows at 1st floor pedimented. Pediment with blank panel, suggesting that sculpture was intended.
SW ELEVATION: 5-bay with 5 windows at each floor, taller at 1st.
NE ELEVATION: as SW elevation, but with 2 large 20th century dormers added to attic, and flat-roofed service court added circa 1835, originally single storey adjoining basement, later raised by 1 floor in pink sandstone to adjoin ground floor of main house with link carried on arch. Central advanced bay to NW with simple pediment, pedimented central bay to NE with segmentally arched carriage opening at ground floor, now glazed with French windows. Ashlar blocking course. Service court with 8 lying-pane glazing at ground floor, taller 12-pane sash and case windows to 1st floor.
Grey slates to platform roof, corniced ashlar stacks.
INTERIOR: vestibule with plasterwork ceiling leads to unusual arrangement of 2 cantilevered staricases at centre of house, 1 rectangular on plan service stair at right, principal stair in square well with square cupola and gilded scrolled foliage to soffit, turned timber balusters, moulded outer end to each step. Principal rooms to SE at centre across 3 bays; DINING ROOM at ground floor with black marble chimneypiece, circa 1820. DRAWING ROOM above at 1st floor, remodelled later 18th century with delicate Adam-style ceiling; a long oval with central rose of acanthus leaves and spreading corn ears and flowers, frieze and cornice. Chandelier recently installed. Original chimneypiece lost, but large gilded pier glass with marble topped gilded console table, and gilded and ornately carved pelmet boxes retained. Shutters, doors and dado panels decorated with hand-painted pastoral scenes in gilt arabesques, circa 1840 by Thomas Bonnar of D R Hay & Co. Paint to walls not original. LIBRARY above at 2nd floor, original coved ceiling and plasterwork; eagles holding foliate sprays at corners, classical urns with foliate sprays half way along each wall. Heavy, dentilled cornice. 2 pedimented, break-front bookcases between windows, tall bookcases on opposite wall returning on side walls with brass mesh to doors. Woodwork now painted white. Chimneypiece to W wall, 18th century white stone with male and female caryatids carrying foliate capitals, concave fluted cornice and scrolled foliate frieze. Grey marble slips, modern grate.
TERRACE, FOUNTAIN AND STATUE BASES: terraced garden with stone steps to SE, arboretum to W of house containing -mid 19th century planting and stone fountain and stone statue plinths (statues now missing).
BURIAL GROUND: family burial ground with some surviving memorials (not seen 1995) on tree-planted mound to E of house with stone retaining wall.
Although the Mortonhall Estate including the garden ground around the house is still owned by the Trotter family, the house was requisitioned during the war as an officer's mess and leased to Edinburgh University in 1949 for a Marxist experiment in communal living. Following use as a nursing home in the 1950's and 60's, the house lay empty for some years, and suffered loss of fittings including fireplaces. It was subdivided into 13 flats which were sold individually in the mid-1980's. Stonework and earlier descriptions suggests there was garden access from SE and SW by iron staricases from 1st floor. These have been removed and stonework made good. The Stables and outbuildings, Dovecot and Factors House to the NE of the house, and the Walled Garden, former Kennels cottages and Icehouse to the W are all listed separately.
Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984), pp490-1.
C J Smith HISTORIC SOUTH EDINBURGH (19 ), Vol 2, pp386-7.
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