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Edinburgh, 82, 84 Canongate, Nisbet Of Dirleton's House

House (17th Century), Shop (20th Century)(Possible), Tenement (20th Century), Tenement (17th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 82, 84 Canongate, Nisbet Of Dirleton's House

Classification House (17th Century), Shop (20th Century)(Possible), Tenement (20th Century), Tenement (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) 80, 82a Canongate; 86 Canongate

Canmore ID 132600

Site Number NT27SE 2796

NGR NT 26607 73842

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 2796 26607 73842

1954 replica of original 1624 facade incorporating some original stone. Three storey and attic, rubble-built, crowstepped gable with square E angle turret, narrow crowstepped stair tower set back on W. Rear elevation completely modern, plain harled. (Original building described by RCAHMS.)

RCAHMS 1951.

Architecture Notes

Dated 1624. Four storeyed.


Publication Account (1951)

96. 82 and 82A Canongate.

This rubble-built, gabled tenement is known as Nisbet of Dirleton's House after the eminent jurist, a former occupant, who became a Senator of the College of Justice in 1664 with the title of Lord Dirleton. It stands between Haddington's Entry and Strichen's Close, and is not only one of the oldest houses in the burgh but has survived with less alteration than most of the rest have suffered. Although the ground floor of the S. half is apparently a remnant of some earlier structure, as it now stands the building is substantially of the year 1624, the date carved, together with a monogram of the initials K M, on the common pier of the close-set windows in the centre of the front on the first floor. The house is four storeys in height and L-shaped on plan, having a wing projecting towards the street and a square crow-stepped stair-tower rising within the re-entrant angle, which opens towards the N.W. The main block, running E. and W., seems to represent the first building that occupied the site, but if this is the case the frontage line must have been advanced. The front (Fig. 351 [SC 1161593]) is exceptional in several respects; for example, the upper part of the stair tower stands free, in order that the wing may have a side-window on the second floor, while again the N.E. angle is set out on a single corbel and carries a rectangular turret higher up. Modern shop-fronts have been introduced at the street level. The first and second floors both have four windows, the two in the centre united by a common pier, but the westernmost light in the upper tier has been built up. The third floor, rising within the crow-stepped gable, has two windows and a dormer, the latter the survivor of two on the W. side. The stair entrance, by which the upper. floors were approached, has a bold moulding of roll, fillet and hollow, and the lintel has been cut back into the form of an arch to give additional height. The window immediately above the entrance seems to have been widened, but the two above this again are untouched. The back wall (Fig. 235 [SC 1161592]), now a patchwork of rubble and brick, was once encumbered with timber extensions. The original E. wall is screened by Haddington's Entry, which is of later date; but the earlier part of the W. wall is still marked in the entry to Strichen's Close, although concealed at higher levels.

The main block contains a disused central passage designed to give access to an extension which is no longer in existence. It runs N. and S. between two vaulted cellars, is itself vaulted at its S. end only, and is now entered from the W. cellar as its original entrance, a round-arched doorway, has been closed up. The cellar on the E., entered from No. 82 Canongate in the E. half of the wing through a round-arched, chamfered doorway, has a fireplace beside the entry, but this is probably not original. The E. wall contains an aumbry. Of the two doorways in the S. wall, the easternmost gives access to a small angled projection, while the other, which is built up, formerly opened into the space beneath a forestair which once rose against the back wall. The W. cellar, entered from No. 82A Canongate, but also having direct access from the well of the main staircase, is lit from the W. and had a doorway at the S.W. corner communicating with an extension which is now removed. On the ground floor there are two compartments in the wing, both of which have been modernised.

Since the close of the 17th century each of the upper floors has been a self-contained flat, but whether this was the original arrangement or not is uncertain. The first floor accommodates a hall, an angled passage and three apartments, all of which were elegantly finished. In two rooms wall panellingof the late 17th century still survives, and some vestiges can be seen in the passage also. The second floor has four rooms and a passage, the apartment over the hall being smaller than the others; here again panelling seems to have been the prevailing finish, for some traces remain in the passage while the large room to the N.E. is probably panelled behind the wall-paper. This room opens into the front turret. The one behind it has a closet at the S.E. corner, and this appears to represent the remains of a stair which originally led to the third floor; this is suggested by the fact that the upper flight of the main stair is of wood, and is probably a comparatively late extension contrived in what had previously been a small room. The top floor is featureless apart from a plain fireplace of the 17th century.

RCAHMS 1951, visited before 1942


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