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Calder House

House (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Calder House

Classification House (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 49045

Site Number NT06NE 2

NGR NT 07259 67251

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council West Lothian
  • Parish Mid Calder
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District West Lothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Recording Your Heritage Online

Calder House, principally from 16th century

Seat of the Sandilands, later Lords Torphichen, since 1350. The 1590s drawing of it by Timothy Pont implies one of the great Renaissance houses of Scotland; an enormously long slab with a fanciful skyline of chimneys, towers and cupolas. A tower, with thicker walls, is embedded at the heel of the house behind the two-storey semicircular entrance. The east wing is typically mid-16th century in plan. In the early 17th century, the north wing was extended by a new stair-tower, with scale-and-platt stair up to the principal floors, a turnpike, corbelled out on its west side, up to a balustraded rooftop viewing platform. In the later 17th century, the north wing was extended again, in the style of Alexander McGill, immuring that balustraded platform at roof level, ending in a handsome four-storey quoined gable with round oculi. A comparable gable added to the south east. In c.1820, a circular two-storey Doric-porched entrance was added in the principal angle like the splayed entrance to Glamis and to Minto House. The former hall, now drawing room, retains its large Renaissance windows and fine panelling.

This was a demesne of grandeur: here John Knox may have celebrated his first Reformed Communion in Scotland in 1556; here Frédéric Chopin stayed. By stripping off its harl, flattening the roof and slicing off its dormer windows, history has conspired to diminish a great palace into a country mansion.

Many fine estate buildings; the splendid 1670 gateway, facing West Calder road; a sharply broken pediment with ball finials, scrolls and alternate courses heavily rusticated; rustic West Lodge, pavilion roof, framed by tall chimneystacks and three identically scaled round-headed openings (lacking limewash); 17th-century sundial; round-shouldered South Lodge (hungrily rubble-pointed without its harl) and pretty bargeboarded gate lodge in Bank Street.

Steading, 1808, single-storey, entered beneath three-storey pedimented doocot. Now houses.

Taken from "West Lothian: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Stuart Eydmann, Richard Jaques and Charles McKean, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NT06NE 2.00 07259 67251

NT06NE 2.01 0695 6697 Gateway and Sundial

NT06NE 2.02 0722 6736 Ice House

NT06NE 2.03 06987 67088 Steading

NT06NE 2.04 07208 67169 Stables

NT06NE 2.05 07424 67187 Gateway

NT06NE 2.06 07069 66867 South gate-lodge and gate

NT06NE 2.07 0 6 Gate-lodge and gate

NT06NE 2.08 0 6 Bridge

NT06NE 65 07057 67563 Bank Street, Gate-lodge; Gate-piers

NT06NE 76 07440 67148 The Dry Brig

(NT 0725 6724) Calder House (NR) (Restored)

OS 6" map (1958)

Calder House, a 16th-17th century mansion (SDD List 1963) is L- shaped on plan. At its base, the rubble walls are heavy, and on S and W up to 8' thick, suggesting that an older structure has been incorporated. The building is 3 storeys and a garret high. The N wing was extended in the later 17th century, and additions were made c.1780 and in 1880, in the re-entrant angle and on the W side of the wing.

The seat of Lord Torphichen, the barony of Calder has been held by the Sandilands family since c.1350. John Knox openly celebrated the reformed communion for the first time here in 1556.

H B M'Call 1894; RCAHMS 1929, visited 1921

The house, extensively restored, is as described and planned and in good structural condition.

Visited by OS (JLD) 21 February 1953 and (DWR) 28 March 1974

Architecture Notes

NT06NE 2 07259 67251

NT06NE 2.01 0695 6697 Gateway and sundial

NT06NE 2.02 0722 6736 Ice-house

NT06NE 2.03 06987 67088 Steading

NT06NE 2.04 07208 67169 Stables

NT06NE 2.05 07423 67187 East gateway

NT06NE 2.06 07069 66867 South gate lodge and piers

NT06NE 2.07 06481 66829 West gate lodge and piers

NT06NE 2.08 07416 66640 Bridge

NT06NE 2.09 07390 67257 East gate lodge


Owner: Lord Torphichen


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