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Edinburgh, 24 Charlotte Square

Bank (Financial) (19th Century), Terraced House (18th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 24 Charlotte Square

Classification Bank (Financial) (19th Century), Terraced House (18th Century)

Canmore ID 114493

Site Number NT27SW 494

NGR NT 24667 73753

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian


Modification (1922 - 1936)

Between 1922 and 1923 the Edinburgh practice Leadbetter Fairley and Reid converted 24 Charlotte Square and the adjoining 13-15 Hope Street into bank premises for the North of Scotland Town and Country Bank. They provided further alterations in 1936 including screened compartments.

Information from RCAHMS, 2002 (NG)

Publication Account (1951)

Charlotte Square.

This square, the principal feature of the New Town, stands partly on the "parks" that the Town Council had purchased in 1744 from the creditors of Thomas Allan, Dean of Guild, and partly on land acquired by excambion or exchange from Thomas Erskine, Lord Alva, for the purpose of completing the site. Under the name of St. George's Square it appears an integral part of Craig's plan of 1767 for the New Town, balancing St. Andrew's Square at the E. end of George Street. But in 1786 the Town Council agreed to alter the name to Charlotte Square-though less perhaps, from motives of loyalty towards Queen Charlotte than in order to avoid confusion, as the enterprising builder, James Brown, had by that time named his new square on the S. side of the town after his brother George.* By 1788 it seemed doubtful whether Craig's plan for the proposed square could actually be carried out as the Earl of Moray, the adjoining proprietor on the N., held a servitude which precluded the Town and their vassals from building within 90 ft. of his boundary. Although it was foreseen that the Square could not be finished until this serviture expired - it was not extinguished until 1803 - the Town nevertheless decided to proceed with the work. In the first place they commissioned Robert Adam, the most eminent Scots architect of the day, to design elevations to which feuars would have to conform; for this Adam was to be paid a fee of £200 in addition to five guineas for each individual house that he planned in detail. These elevations, which are still preserved in the City Chambers, have a monumental dignity achieved through fine proportion and symmetry of parts, the N. side of the square being identical with the S. and the E. side with the W. The work was carried out substantially in accordance with Adam's drawings, adherence to which was enforced in the Court of Session as late as 1811 when one of the feuars attempted to depart from them. As a result, Charlotte Square ranks as one of the major achievements in European civic architecture of the period. The principal departure from Adam's scheme was the re-designing of St. George's Church [NT27SW 122] by Robert Reid, which introduced an arresting discord, and a minor deviation was the omission from the N. and S. sides of the return ends by means of which Adam had proposed to screen the backs of these blocks; but in point of fact not a single house in the Square has been built in precise conformity with Adam's design, the windows, roofs and chimneystalks being all higher than he intended.

Robert Adam died in 1792, the year in which feuing opened, and his brother and partner James in 1794, with the result that when the work progressed their designs had to be carried out by other architects. Robert Reid, Alexander Stevens and James Tait are among those known to have been concerned. The N. side of the Square was built first, David Hay, a builder, receiving £10 from the Town in 1794 as a premium for being the first feuar to complete and roof his house. While some feuars, like Hay, took up stances with an eye to a profit, others did so with the intention of building residences for their own occupation.

The Square is a rectangle, measuring 500 ft. along each side, with a garden in the centre. The area that it encloses was levelled in 1803 by soldiers of the Inverness-shire Regiment, whose commanding officer, General Alexander Dirom, built Number 18 for his own use, receiving his feu-charter from the Town in 1808 after the completion of his house. Into the Square at its corners lead North Charlotte Street on the N.E., South Charlotte Street on the S.E., Hope Street on the S.W., and Glenfinlas Street on the N.W., the last representing a former entrance to Lord Moray's property. George Street, entering in the middle of the E. side, opens a view, across the garden, of St. George's Church standing on an island site flanked by footways in the middle of the W. side. Young Street and Rose Street, two minor accesses running parallel to George Street, enter the Square at the inner ends of North and South Charlotte Streets.

The N. and S. sides of the Square are designed as single units while the two longer sides each comprise two units. On all four sides the elevations have three main storeys with an attic and a basement concealed by a front area, and at Numbers 1, 2, 8, 10 and 11, where the ground falls sharply to the N., there are also sub-basements. As elsewhere in the New Town, the attics were originally lit by roof-lights in front, dormer windows in that position being expressly prohibited in the conditions of feuing; but latterly this restriction was not enforced and a number of houses have either had their wallheads raised or dormers added (i.e., Numbers 13-19, 22, 24-26, 29, 34-38, 41-43 and 45). All such additions have been removed from the N. side at the instance of the several proprietors, and the Square is now safeguarded from injurious alteration in the future under the Edinburgh Town Planning (Charlotte Square) Scheme Order, 1930.

[see RCAHMS 1951 pp.206-210 for a full architectural description]

RCAHMS 1951, visited c.1941

*GEORGE'S SQUARE can still be seen painted on the SE corner of George Square.


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