Edinburgh, 36 Marine Drive, Muirhouse
House (Period Unassigned)
- Council Edinburgh, City Of
- Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
- Former Region Lothian
- Former District City Of Edinburgh
- Former County Midlothian
NT27NW 18.00 21114 76866
NT27NW 18.01 21207 76792 Stables
NT27NW 18.02 2130 7639 Walled Garden
NT27NW 18.03 2131 7635 Country House (Muirhouse of 1690)
NT27NW 18.04 20697 76186 Lodge
Built 1832 for Captain Davidson
Owner Edinburgh Corporation, c1950's
Architect: Frescoes in drawing room by Zephaniah Bell 1832
From John Wood's Work on Ancient and Modern State of the Parish of Cramond, published 1794;
In 1316/1320 a charter stating that Muirhouse and Cramond Regis, part of the Royal Demesne was given by King Robert Bruce to the brave Sir William Oliphant of Aberlady 'by way of excambion for a piece of ground within the enclosure of Kincardine Park'
Also, 'three noble avenues, each nearing half a mile in length, formed of old oaks, limes, and other stately trees, lead to the house from the west, north and east, the gate terminating the latter, being ornamented with two griffins'.
This relates to old Muirhouse (or Murrais or Murrize) which was built around 1670 and demolished in 1832-1833 after the new Muirhouse was built in 1831-1832 by Captain William Davidson. The overseer of the building work was a Mr Bell. From Captain William Davidson's autobiography, Vol III, p84-85; 'In the course of some time I found, but to my great displeasure that the said contractor was actually a very near relation of the architect, who (the contractor) turned out to be, what people call, a complete rascal, - a cheat, - a drunkard, - and, finally, a cut throat, - having patriotically cut his own, and thus dispatching himself, defrauded the hangman'.
The furniture and paintings of old Muirhouse were moved into the new house and all that remained of the old house were two ivy clad turrets at each end. See NT27NW 57. Two frescoes were created by Zephaniah Bell in 1832 but now only one remains. From AL/3 Davidson's of Muirhouse, there is a reference to Mr C Heath Wilson's article 'Fresco' in Encyclopaedia Britanica which mentions Zephaniah Bell's fresco at Muirhouse; 'these were in good condition when I saw them in June 1842'. In Vol 2 of Small's Castles and Mansions of the Lothians there is a photographic view of the new Muirhouse with a description of the house and grounds including; 'The drawing rooms are ornamented with several fine frescos painted by Zephania Bell'
In Helen Smailes 'Scottish Masters' series on John Zephaniah Bell, mention is made of Captain William Davidson staging a suicide by drowning in 1834 because of his bankruptcy and although Thomas Davidson writes of his father's debts, the only real reference to this is in Wm. Davidson's autobiographical letters to his grandson William in Vol II, p37;
'My dearest dear fellow, I cannot hide from you, as it cannot be hidden, that you, most assuredly owe your very life, - all you have, or can expect to have, - to my misfortune and to the great catastrophe of 1833-4.' William Davidson left instructions for his son Thomas, which were not followed;
'The paper contained directions how, he [Thomas] was, after my death, to finish his education at Paris, ensuring his life etc to satifsy all the creditors, as well in Paris as in Edinburgh:- designing, as Miss H- well knows, that had he been permitted to do all this, as I directed, never to have been more heard of:- but, in place of that, the trustees whom I had appointed, contrary to my strict directions, had him down to Edinburgh; - his education was not, by any means properly attended to; and he was going into the Dragoons, - therefore I went down to Edinburgh, and made Miss H-, his near relation, - my confidant, and told her to tell my son, poor Dear fellow to be in his short lived prosperity told so of my being alive; and if he did not go back or set back to Paris, finish his education, and arrange about the debts, I would come out at once, - at the cross of Edinburgh; - of course, I found it necessary, after this, to see that this was done; I was obliged to reside in Paris: -and he, in consequence, did attend to his education, and, when of age, would surely have acted like a gentleman'.
Captain William Davidson's father Dr. Thomas Davidson bought Hatton House near Ratho (NT15NW 5) in 1796 for ?21,300 and was sold in 1870 for ?42, 000 to Earl of Horton. See AL/3/26 and site
Part of Davidson Family Tree
Rev. Thomas Davidson of Dundee 1676-1760 m Janet Rogers
1 William Davidson 1713-1794 2 Mary
1 William Davidson 1713-1794 m Jane in 1746, she died 1748
First of Muirhouse, William bought it in 1776, his portrait was painted by Joshua Reynolds
Susannah Jane 1747-1767 her portrait by Joshua Reynolds
2 Mary m 1 Thomas Eliot
m 2 Rev Thomas Randall
Thomas 1747-1827 - Rev Thos Randall of Muirhouse and Hatton (second of Muirhouse) was a nephew of William Davidson who upon William's death inherited Muirhouse, but also the arms and name of Davidson, hence he later became Dr Thomas Davidson, he also lived at 8 Heriot Row in Edinburgh and had his portrait painted by Henry Raeburn. He bought Hatton House in 1796
Dr Thomas Davidson m 1 Miss Rutherford (her portrait by Skirving) they had 2 sons and 2 daughters m 2 Elizabeth Cockburn they had 6 children
Dr Thomas second son was *Captain William Davidson 1783-1865 (third of Muirhouse) who's autobiography written in 1860's are stored in NMRS Print Room
*Capt Wm Davidson m Jane Horsburgh of Horsburgh Castle and Pirn in Peebleshire
*Thomas FRS b 1817 m Caroline Charlotte Pittar
1 William b1843 m Charlotte Wood
2 Henry b1853-27/2/1907 (who wrote religious music)
(Undated) information in NMRS.
The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (http://www.pmsa.org.uk/) set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.
The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.
Field Visit (23 September 2003)
Coat of arms (1): a shield decorated with two stars (top), a fleur de lis, and a dagger pointing down.
Coat of arms (2): same as (1) but flanked by two griffins.
There is also the head of an eagle at the top left hand corner of the building.
Inspected By : Joan M. Kennedy
Inscriptions : Below coat of arms (2):
Above: [YICET INCIKERE] ??
Signatures : None
Design period : 1832
Notes : Building may be at risk - it has been empty for yeaars
Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN1279)