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Mavisbank House

Country House (18th Century)

Site Name Mavisbank House

Classification Country House (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Mavisbank Estate; Mavisbank House Policies; New Saughton Hall

Canmore ID 51726

Site Number NT26NE 54

NGR NT 28807 65146

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/51726

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Lasswade
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Treasured Places - HLF funded (20 July 2007)

In 1723 work commenced on the construction of Mavisbank House, the design resulting from collaboration between the owner, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, and the architect William Adam. Built in the classical style, the main house is linked by screen walls to flanking pavilions. A fire in 1973 destroyed the roof and the house is currently a shell.

Information from RCAHMS (SC) 20 July 2007

McWilliam, C 1978

An image of this site has been nominated as one of Scotland's favourite archive images. For more information about the project visit http://www.treasuredplaces.org.uk

Archaeology Notes

NT26NE 54.00 28807 65146

NT26NE 36 c. 28 65 Barrow; Urns

NT26NE 43 2872 6506 Earthworks

NT 28807 65146 (Mavisbank House) A re-assessment was undertaken of the designed landscape and analytical history of Mavisbank House. Compilation of a gazetteer of landscape features and built structures represents a comprehensive upgrading of previous assessments.

A previously unrecorded ice house was discovered below the existing game larder; well preserved and linked to the game larder. A possible `tump' or stand of trees forming a visual terminus to the northern vista was also identified.

Assessment was undertaken of the doocot forming the `eye-catcher' at the E end of the main vista. Low walls on either side had been reduced in height; patchings on either side of the doocot tower suggested that these walls had been shaped in order to form a silhouette on the skyline as seen from the house.

Initial assessment of the walled garden confirmed that this had originally been oval, but designed so that it appeared circular when viewed from the house. It was deduced that there had been a further vista aligned on the centre of the S frontage of the house that bisected the walled garden.

The SW annexe to the walled garden, now triangular in form, had most probably been rectangular originally, as suggested by Roy's map of c 1750. The surviving gazebo was deduced to have been on the central axis of this former arrangement, an axis that may also have been aligned on the doocot at the E end of the policies.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

T Addyman 2004

Architecture Notes

NT26NE 54.00 28807 65146

NT26NE 54.01 28573 65532 Lodge

NT26NE 54.02 28541 65536 Jointure house

NT26NE 54.03 28935 65072 Walled Garden

NT26NE 54.04 28811 65210 Ice-house

NT26NE 54.05 c.2882 6509 Game-larder

NT26NE 54.06 29392 65742 Dovecot

NT26NE 54.07 29580 65762 East Lodge

NT26NE 54.08 2887 6522 Pond

NT26NE 54.09 28549 65535 81 Linden Place

NT26SE 101.00 28846 64905 Dairy including South Lodge and The Coach House

NT26SE 101.01 28868 64916 Gazebo

NMRS REFERENCE:

Architect: William Adam & Sir John Clerk 1723. John Baxter (elder) builder

William Aikman - advising on decoration of staircase 1725

James Smith - letter to Clerk of Penicuik 1721

EXTERNAL REFERENCE:

Scottish Records Office:

1. Account of money paid to masons and wrights.

2. An agreement with William Adam concerning the completion of the Dome is added

1723 GD 18/1765

Accounts relating to the building and upkeep. They include receipts and discharges by William Adam and John Baxter

1723-37 GD 18/1767

Estimate of the cost of raising the "communications"one storey higher.

1762 GD 18/1771

Comptation of slate, lead, wright and plaster work. With the addition of pavilion and garden the total is #1214. Calculation by William Adam.

1723 GD 18/1766

Accounts relating to the building and upkeep. Include receipts and discharges by William Adam and John Baxter.

1723-37 GD 18/1767

Estimate. Cost of raising the "communications" one storey higher.

1762 GD 18/1771

[ ] Waterfall

Drawing of hewn rock

1714 GD 18/1775

Laying the foundation. William Adam, architect, writes from Floors to say that he will call at [Mavisbank] and report to Sir John Clerk on the foundation. He apologises for not returning Sir John's drawing board.

1723 GD 18/4724

William Adam, architect, in his letter to Sir John Clerk mentions the alteration of the situation of the offices, the pavilion, the rural garden and the stair.

1738 GD 18/4735/2

Measurement of the chimneypieces. William Adam in a letter to Sir John Clerk asks that john Baxter should check the measurements against these he encloses. He mentions the price of marble.

1737 GD 18/4734

William Adam, architect. Letter which apparently accompanied an account measured and drawn out by Mr Calderwood for sir john Clerk.

1729 GD 18/4732/2

Marble chimney pieces. William Adam, architect, asks for a week's notice when Sir John Clerk wished to have the chimney pieces erected.

1735 GD 18/4733

William Adam's letters to Sir John Clerk mention the construction of the staircase, banister and a little pillar at the foot of the stair. He has the mahogany wood which would be suitable.

1726-8 GD 18/4729/1-6

William Adam's letter to Sir John Clerk concerning the building of Mavisbank and one letter from Sir John concerning a mistake. Topics mentioned cover plaster work, pilasters, cornices, octagon pavilions, vestibule, staircase and marble chimney pieces.

1724-25 GD 18/4728/1-15

Letter from William Adam, architect. [1689-1748]. He writes to Sir John Clerk regarding his plan.

1723 GD 18/4719

Construction of the pilasters. Letter to Sir John Clerk regarding their construction and illustrating his point by a plan.

1723 GD 18/4725

The cartouche at the entry door. It is to support the coat of arms. Letter to Sir John Clerk from William Adam, architect, to introduce Mr Silverstyne, the carver, who is to do the work.

1723 GD 18/4726

Letter from William Adam, architect [1689-1748]. He writes to Sir John Clerk regarding his plans and gives his reasons for the layout of the rooms.

1723 GD 18/4719

Pavilions: GD/18/1767/24 Sept 19th 1731 Accont. of Jp: Johnston Wright

'flooring above ye coachhouse in South pavilion'

therefore N pavilion presumably kitchen

Clerk of Penicuik Memoirs additional notes - Explaining why he did not rebuild at penicuik ' and therefor I built and embellished mavisbank between 1723 and 1746 more than absolutely necessary'

Scottish Records Office - RHP 9372 1697 - plan of park

Scottish Records Office - Penicuik Papers - information on building

Activities

Field Visit (1 April 1952 - 30 April 1952)

Field Visit (1 April 1954 - 30 April 1954)

Field Visit (1956)

Field visit

Field Visit (1 November 1959 - 30 November 1959)

Standing Building Recording (18 December 1973)

Design (1981)

Designs for a possible reconstruction.

Photographic Record (October 1982 - 1983)

Photographic Record (1983)

Photographer unknown

Aerial Photography (1983)

Field Visit (1985)

Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland

Photographic Record (1987)

Photographer unknown

Aerial Photography (2 March 1998)

Standing Building Recording (2004)

NT 28807 65146 (Mavisbank House) A re-assessment was undertaken of the designed landscape and analytical history of Mavisbank House. Compilation of a gazetteer of landscape features and built structures represents a comprehensive upgrading of previous assessments.

A previously unrecorded ice house was discovered below the existing game larder; well preserved and linked to the game larder. A possible `tump' or stand of trees forming a visual terminus to the northern vista was also identified.

Assessment was undertaken of the doocot forming the `eye-catcher' at the E end of the main vista. Low walls on either side had been reduced in height; patchings on either side of the doocot tower suggested that these walls had been shaped in order to form a silhouette on the skyline as seen from the house.

Initial assessment of the walled garden confirmed that this had originally been oval, but designed so that it appeared circular when viewed from the house. It was deduced that there had been a further vista aligned on the centre of the S frontage of the house that bisected the walled garden.

The SW annexe to the walled garden, now triangular in form, had most probably been rectangular originally, as suggested by Roy's map of c 1750. The surviving gazebo was deduced to have been on the central axis of this former arrangement, an axis that may also have been aligned on the doocot at the E end of the policies.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Excavation (28 July 2008 - 1 August 2008)

NT 2890 6515; NT 2891 6516; NT 2886 6542 As part of remedial works excavations were carried out on and near the road to the E and S of Mavisbank House on 28 July–01 August 2008. Two trenches were sited E of the house towards the top of a slope, S of a sharp bend to the W, in an area where a landslip had occurred during the previous winter. A third trench was opened at the bottom of the hill immediately W of the boundary wall in the S part of the nursery, in an area where surface water had been seen to accumulate.

The excavations revealed several different phases of roadway and water damage. It appears that the roadway

has been progressively raised and narrowed, with the W edge moving E. The woodland has gradually extended E over the track, and rather than cutting back the woodland the track has simply been pushed a little further E and narrowed. Clearly there has been a long-term problem with flooding. The construction of each new roadway surface has involved the laying of deposits of ash, or other porous material, into the area to the W of it and has raised the level of the road.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Alan Radley (Kirkdale Archaeology), 2008

References

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