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Edinburgh, Orwell Place, Dalry House

Country House (17th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Orwell Place, Dalry House

Classification Country House (17th Century)

Canmore ID 52584

Site Number NT27SW 117

NGR NT 23960 72896

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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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

Architecture Notes

NT27SW 117 23960 72896


[Robert] Robinson

Dalry House (Edinburgh). Pleasure ground laid out "after a design by Mr Robinson surveyor"

(Edinburgh Evening Courant, June 24, 1775)

Architect: John Wotherston - additions, 1877.


Publication Account (1951)

183. Dalry House, Orwell Place.

This plain, substantial and commodious country-house of the mid-17th century, now used partly as the Normal Practising School and partly as a branch of ‘Toe H’, has become enclosed on three sides by modern buildings and is to-day merely a unit in a street of working-class houses. It includes an oblong, three storeyed main block running N.W. and S.E., from the centre of which a semi-hexagonal tower, containing spacious turnpike, projects in front and rises about 6 ft. above the main wall-head to an ogival slated roof. When the original structure came to be extended S. in the 19th century, a modern and similar tower was erected to balance the first at what had formerly been the S.W. corner. The masonry is rubble with dressed and back-set margins at the corners and voids. The wall-heads have a cavetto-moulded eaves-course. The gables at either end finish in tabling with scrolled skewputs, but a third one in the centre of the building has crow-steps. A built-up entrance, an early insertion if not actually original, is seen on the N. side of the stair-tower.

The fabric has been remodelled at various times from the 18th century onwards, and there has been so much alteration inside that the original arrangement can only be conjectured. But the position of the kitchen seems to be fixed by an oven on the N. side of the turnpike. The S. half of the first floor, now subdivided, was originally devoted to a single large public room; this had a fine plaster ceiling of the Restoration period, still extant in part, which is divided by moulded ribs into square compartments, the junctions of the panels being circled and enriched with pendants. In each compartment is a moulded plaster ornament or "stamp," the various devices, which are enumerated below, all being found on other ceilings of the period. (1) A saltire surmounted of a crown flanked by the initials C(arolus) R(ex) 2 and the date 1661. (2) A sword and sceptre (‘The Honours’) crossed in saltire and flanked by the initials C R 2 with a crown and the date 1661 in the upper angle. A label below bears the inscription* NOBIS HAEC INVICTA / MISERVNT 108 PROAVI (‘A hundred and eight forefathers handed these down to us unconquered’). (3) The Scottish crest flanked by initials C R 2. (4) A lion rampant charged with a mullet.** (5) A cherub's head. (6) A thistle slipped. (7) Terminal figures. (8) A fleur-de-lys. (9) A vine slip. (10) A rose on a cartouche.

Dalry House was the home of John Chiesly of Dairy, who murdered the Lord President on 31st March 1689. Chiesly was immediately apprehended, tortured, maimed and hanged (1).

RCAHMS 1951, visited c.1941

(1) Wilson, Memorials, i, p. 178.

*The same inscription is noted under No. 185.

**Not the arms of Chiesly of Dairy, as these were three roses slipped

Photographic Survey (September 1964)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Work in September 1964.

Watching Brief (July 2005 - September 2005)

An historic buildings survey and archaeological watching brief was required as a condition of planning consent during the renovations of Dalry House, Orwell Place, Edinburgh. These works were undertaken by A0C Archaeology Group.

The watching brief included investigations into selected areas of the house that were subject to soft stripping and renovation. They exposed some early 17th century features and the floor and roof beams dating to the 19th century.

The archaeological watching brief was undertaken on two areas of the grounds that were subject to limited service trenching as part of the development. No archaeological remains were uncovered.


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