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Edinburgh, Glenallan Drive, Inch House

Community Centre (Modern), House (17th Century), Sundial(S) (Post Medieval)

Site Name Edinburgh, Glenallan Drive, Inch House

Classification Community Centre (Modern), House (17th Century), Sundial(S) (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Community Centre; Glenallan Drive; Old Dalkeith Road; Gilmerton Road

Canmore ID 52547

Site Number NT27SE 80

NGR NT 27676 70820

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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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

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 80.00 27676 70820

NT27SE 80.01 276 708 Garden

NT27SE 80.02 27709 70836 Craigmillar Sundial

NT27SE 80.03 27772 70904 Gate in North Garden Wall

NT27SE 80.04 27822 70840 Gate in South Garden Wall

NT27SE 80.05 27712 70754 Facet-Head Sundial

NT27SE 80.06 27758 70861 Multiform Sundial

(NT 2767 7080) Inch (NR)

OS 6" map, (1966)

Inch House occupies a low-lying situation, on an island or inch in an area flooded by water, entrance originally being by a drawbridge.

The original house forms the E angle of the present mansion; it was an L-planned structure of three storeys and an attic, built in 1617 by James Winram. He added a low outbuilding of two floors in 1634. The old building is of rubble and is rough-cast. Several windows have been inserted, others enlarged. The main block was extended SW in the 19th century.

G MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; RCAHMS 1951.

This building is generally as described. It is still in use as a Community Centre.

Visited by OS (S F S) 3 December 1975.

There are two wall sundials over the bay window above the front door, visible in collection item A 11469 or SC 587478.

(A Cassells, 26 November 2009).

Architecture Notes

NT27SE 80.00 27676 70820


MacGibbon and Ross (main entrance)


Edinburgh Corporation

Carved stones built on from town house of the Little family in Liberton's Wynd



W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection 1997/39

exterior view


GD 122/3/857

Report on the state of Inch House. Compiled for Walter Little Gibson. It is reported to be habitable although doors and panes of glass are missing, a stair is in bad repair, the North Wing is in poor condition and the wall of the laundry rotten. Signed bu John Kerr and James Brown. Volume. Craigmillar Papers. Addenda 1556 - 1807 (page 22)


GD 122/iv/no.122

Statuary marble chimney piece for the Inch. Account from Robert Burn and Co. for 64.19.6 (pounds). Liberton Papers - household accounts 1702 - 1823 (page 81)


GD 122/iv/no.121

Erection of a cine house at the Inch. Measurement and account for mason and wright work from John Hay. It amounts to 291.9.4 1/4 (pounds). Liberton Papaers - household accounts 1702 - 1823

GD 122/iv/no.125

The Gateway at the Inch. Account from Thomas Ha for wrought iron gate. Liberton Papers - household accounts 1702 - 1823 (page 81)


GD 122/iv/no.138

Ornamental Gate with a circular top at the Inch. Account for the gate and for two cast metal columns with vases, from Ritchie and Kidd. Liberton Papers - household accounts 1702 - 1823 (page 82)


GD 122/iv/no.124

Measurement and account of Mason work for the Mushroom House at the Inch. Mason: John Bain . Liberton Papers - household Accounts 1702 - 1823 (page 81)


GD 122/iv/no.126

The porter's lodge at the Inch. Account for the lodge on the Dalkeith Road. Mason: John Bain. Liberton Papers - household accounts 1792 - 1823 (page 81)


GD 122/3/1374

Specification for the new West approach to Inch House. Signed by Peter Gibson and Andrew Archibald. Volume. Craigmillar Papers. Addenda 1556 - 1807 (page 42)


GD 122/Box 27

Proposed addition to Inch House. Letters (2) from (George) Smith, Architect (1793 - 1877) to Mrs Gilmour concerning thr Entrance Hall and additional bedrooms. He explains that the Entrance will be from the West End opposite the Avenue leading to the house and consequently the oriel window will have a good effect.


GD 122/iv/no.36

Account for the painting of Coats of Arms, crests, mottos and a "mosyock border within a green gold floured ornament". Signed James Norrie, junior. Liberton Papers - household account 1702 - 1823

1735 - 1736.

GD 122/iv/no.121

Erection of a vine house. Measurement and account, mason and wright work from John Hay. Amount 29.9.4 1/4 (pounds). Liberton Papers - household accounts 1702 - 1823


GD 122/3/830 (a)

The Great Gate at the Inch. Contract between Sir Alexander Gilmour on the one part and William Miln, mason, on the other to build a Great Gate at the Inch consisting of '2 square columns, each column 2 feet square fronting 3 days - done all of polished work to be 15'8" high from base to cornice with 2 finishings being 2 pineapples each 2 1/2' in diameter - more if the stone can be got'. Volume. Craigmillar Papers. Addenda 1556 - 1807 (page 50).


Field Visit (15 April 1921)

The Inch.

This house stands on the south-eastern outskirts of Edinburgh, almost 2 ½ miles from the General Post Office, in a cup bounded by the hills of Arthur's Seat, Blackford, Liberton, and Craigmillar; so low, indeed, does it lie that, until the middle of the 18th century, much of the ground surrounding the higher spit of land on which the mansion is placed and from which the property is named, was sub-merged or was at least liable to floods .The original house forms the eastern angle of the present mansion; it was an L-planned structure of three storeys and an attic, with its main block running north-east and south-west and its wing returning in a north-westerly direction in alignment with the north-east gable; within the re-entrant angle was placed a rectangular stair-tower. James Winram was the founder, and above the entrance is recorded the date of erection, 1617. In 1634 Winram erected a low outbuilding of two floors in extension of the wing, but of less width. Early in the last century the main block was extended south-westwards, while other structures were added on the north-west and west.

The old building is of rubble and is rough-cast. Several of the windows have been inserted, and others have been enlarged: all have exposed back-set and chamfered margins; the dormers have pediments, of which one only, that on the wing looking south-west, is inscribed. It bears on a shield a serpent coiled in an S-shape round an arrow, barbs downwards, bordered by the motto Festina lente. The gables are crow-stepped, and the chimney copes moulded. The stair-tower rises considerably higher than the roofs and terminates in a crenellated parapet above a continuous moulded corbel-table. The dormers facing south-weston the outbuilding have pediments inscribed with the initials of James Winram and his wife, Jean Swinton (l), singly on the outer pediments and assembled on the centre pediment in monogram with the date 1634.

The outbuilding is not vaulted and has been greatly altered internally. Its only feature is a stone fireplace in the upper room at the north end, which has a wooden surround of about the early 18th century with characteristic lugs or shoulders and moulded cornice; above is a panel bordered by a heavy moulding.

The house has its entrance in the north-west wall of the stair-tower; the doorway has a boldly moulded stone architrave, small cornice and raking cornice enclosing a pediment inscribed 1617. The turnpike-stair rises from the basement to the attic floor, and from this level a turret-stair, corbelled out on the north-east, rises to a chamber within the tower, above the staircase, and to the parapeted look-out. The turret has a conical roof of overlapping and moulded flagstones.

The main stair being spacious, the entry is less constricted than usual. The stair-well forms a fair-sized lobby, from which doors open into the basement chambers, one in the wing and a second in the main block. These retain their vaults, but are now utilised as the dining room and smoking-room and for this purpose have been remodelled. The fireplace of the dining-room is part of the original house, having been removed from an upper room of the wing. An access has been opened to the modern extension, and within the dining-room is a handsome stone doorway of early 18th-century type. At the west-south-west corner of the dining-room a narrow mural service-stair ascends to the floor above.

On the first floor one chamber lay within the wing and two within the main block, but to-day the south-western chamber has been curtailed to provide a bathroom. The wing chamber has a garderobe without flue at the north-western angle. The stone fireplace is modern, but its wooden surround is probably of the late 17th or early 18th century. Within the main block the north-eastern chamber was probably the Hall. There is a large fireplace in the gable, the lintel being a single stone 26 inches high and 9 feet long; the jambs are well moulded and definitely show Renaissance feeling; the mouldings are repeated on the other fireplaces throughout the house. The south-western chamber, which probably opened off its neighbour, has, in the gable, a fireplace, smaller than that of the Hall, flanked by two windows, the northern of which remains, while the other has been filled up. At the southwest angle there is a garderobe like that in the wing chamber, while recessed within the corresponding angle is the upper end of the cellar stair. This arrangement of rooms occurs on each of the upper floors. Several of the upper rooms retain traces of their panelling in Memel pine, while in a window of the second-floor wing chamber, the upper half of which is glazed and the lower portion shuttered, the shutters appear to be original, although considerably repaired. The attics, like those of the wing at Pinkie House, have coved ceilings.

The following armorial panels are built into the wall of the modern hall and staircase:

(1) A panel, 2 feet 11 inches high by 1 foot 7 inches broad, has thistles at the two lower corners and at the upper the initials I. and Q.(Quartus) for James IV. The panel contains, beneath a crown, a shield bearing the Royal Arms of Scotland. This was brought from Bridge-end, a farm on the estate.

(2) From the same place came a panel 2 feet 8 inches broad by 1 foot 8 inches in height, which bears the three towers of the Edinburgh arms; flanking the gatehouse are two shields; the dexter is charged with three unicorns' heads couped, for Preston of Craigmillar, and the sinister with a gyronny, for Campbell.

(3) A third panel, brought from Canonmills in Edinburgh, has the same three towers, in this case flanked by the initials G. H. and the date 1642 .

Built into the east wall of the garden, beside the cottage about 250 yards east of the house, is a 17th-century armorial panel 1 foot 6 ½ inches square; its shield is charged : On a bend two fleurs-de-lys, in the dexter base a pelican vulned feeding its young. The shield is flanked by the initials G. T. and is surmounted by a helmet with plumes. Within a shrubbery immediately north of the mansion lie several architectural details from the town house of an ancestor of the present proprietor in the Cowgate, Edinburgh (2).

(1) The lintel of the entrance inscribed WILLIAME . 1570 . LITIL .

(2) Six skew-puts bearing on a shield the initials V. and L. for William Little.

(3) A gable finial initialled S. D. or D. S. in monogram.

(4) Several stones from a stair or turret wrought with a bold cable ornament.

The Inch is inhabited and in good repair

HISTORICAL NOTE. James Winrame of Nether Liberton was Keeper of the Great Seal in 1623 (3). His son, George, possessed the barony of Liberton, comprehending the lands and baronies of Nether and Over Liberton (4).

RCAHMS 1929, visited 15 April 1921.

(1) Reg. Mag. Sig., s.a. 1629, No. 1463; (2) Liberton in Ancient and Modern Times, George Good, pp. 31-2; (3) Reg. Mag. Sig., s.a., No. 516; (4) Ibid., s.a. 1629, No. 1463.

Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( 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 (28 January 2002)

Within the pediment of the ornate entrance to Inch House is a large coat of arms composed of a shield decorated with: three writing pens, a saltire, three boars' heads, three writing pens (1st and 4th quarters); two boars' heads, a decorative pattern, one boar's head (2nd and 3rd quarters). Above the shield is a helmet with closed visor, surmounted by a raised right hand holding a scroll of papers, within a laurel wreath. To either side are large leaves.

Above the pillars framing the entrance are two cartouches. The one on the left is decorated with a saltire, the one on the right with three writing pens (quills).

Above the first floor windows are a row of lion head water spouts attached to drain pipes.

The original house was built for James Winram, Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, in 1617. In 1660 the house was aquired by the Gilmours. In 1891 they emplyed MacGibbon & Ross to restore it.

The coat of arms of the Gilmours of Craigmillar consists of three writing pens (quills), a raised dexter (right) hand holding a scroll of papers within a garland of laurel, and the motto Nil penna, sed usus.

Inspected By : Joan M. Kennedy

Inscriptions : Below coat of arms: NIL PENNA SED USUS [= Not the pen, but custom. The motto of the Gilmours]

Above first floor bay window above entrance (raised letters): NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA

At the top of the sundial on the left of the bay window: AS THE SUMMER [?] SO DEATH COMES

At the top of the sundial on the right of the bay window: HORAS NON MEROMISI SERENAS

Above the dormer windows (x4), from left to right (raised letters and numbers):

R / GG A / 18 D / 92 S / GG

Signatures : None

Design period : 1891-1892

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0934)


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