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Edinburgh, St James Square, General

Tenement(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, St James Square, General

Classification Tenement(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) St James Centre; Whitehouse Cox & Co Ltd; D & W Rankin; The General Poster And Publicity Co Ltd

Canmore ID 84041

Site Number NT27SE 569

NGR NT 25835 74164

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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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 569 258 741

The site of the original St James Square which was demolished in 1969 is now occupied by the St James Centre.

Information from RCAHMS (DE) 29 June 1995

Architecture Notes


Edinburgh, 6-15 & 16-23a St James Square which were Category B Listed were demolished in 1966/67. Information from Demolitions catalogue in RCAHMS library.


Sources: Dean of Guild. Bundle 1813. January-June. 24.6.1813.

Pet. William Innes.

Corner of Elder Street, James Square.

Elevation to Elder Street and meuse Lane.

Plan of Street Floor, apparently showing a chapel with seating shown. No mention in

application as to the purpose. Unsigned.

in notes on plan: "...the tenement built by John Neil, corner of Elder, Clyde streets..."



Scottish Record Office

RHP 5552 1807 Plan (including St Andrew Square) showing deviation from New Town Plan


Publication Account (1951)

142. St. James' Square.

This square was traditionally a Jacobite nest, and is said to have been called after the Chevalier St. George, son of James VII and II, who died in 1766; but the name is more probably that of Captain James Ferguson, R.N., brother of the proprietor. It is situated on the eminence formerly known as Moultrie's Hill, on the E. of the area dealt with in Craig's plan for the New Town, from which it was separated by the property of Sir Laurence Dundas. The site had been acquired in 1762 by Walter Ferguson, writer in Edinburgh, who decided in 1773 to build a square (1) upon his ground and commissioned Craig to plan it. Ferguson's scheme was opposed by the Superiors,. the Governors of Heriot's Hospital, who took him into court, but he won his case. Taking advantage of the decision, Robert Gray, a neighbouring vassal, thereupon built the S. side of South St. James' Street, which became the E. outlet from the proposed square. While the foundation stone of the first building was being laid a salute was fired from the Castle to celebrate the "victory" of Bunker Hill, fought in June 1775; and the new street, which was a steep incline, thereafter became popularly known as "Bunker's Hill " and it is thus identified on Ainslie's map. This map indicates that three sides of the new square had been built by 1780, the year of publication, and the legend "St. James Square 1779" may be seen carved on Number 5,* the house at the S.E. corner of the square, adjoining the W. end of South St. James' Street: It was not until 1784, however, that the Superiors granted a feu-charter of this property, to a certain Thomas Robertson. Robertson's building, now incorporated with Number 4 was originally a self-contained house of a basement, three main storeys and an attic. The front is of droved ashlar and has a panelled pilaster at each end; the central chimney-stalk is modern. The windows of the street floor and of the second floor have back-set margins, while the first-floor windows have moulded architraves and cornices. The roof is a mansard.

The other buildings on this side of the square, Numbers 1-4, have plainer fronts and form a single block in which Numbers 1 and 2 together correspond to Number 4, so that Number 3 is central. With the exception of the last, which has an extra storey, these buildings have three main storeys and mansard roofs.

The five buildings on the W. side of the square have been converted into an annexe of the Register House. The buildings on the N. side of the square are maindoor houses and flats, most of them having a rounded projection at the back. They have four storeys, an attic and a basement. The fronts are plain, the masonry in most cases being either droved or bush-hammered. Two fronts are channel-jointed on the street floor, while two others have dressed quoins. The feu-charters of these properties were granted in 1783 and 1784.

The E. side of the square is the latest part and consists of a single block, Numbers 6-15, of maindoor houses and flats. The front is of droved ashlar. The central bay, in which there is a central staircase, has a basement and four main storeys while the side bays have a storey less; but here, again, the roofs are mansards. This block was built by Robert Wemyss, whose feu-charter was granted in 1786. It is shown in being on Arnot's map of 1787 (2).

RCAHMS 1951, visited c.1941

(1) O.E.C., ii, p. 170. (2) History, p. 233.

The architect was probably Thomas Hill, cf. P.S.A.S., xii (1876-8), p. 184


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