Grange, Edinburgh
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Grange, Edinburgh

Victorian villa, Palmerston Road Edinburgh.jpg
Villa in The Grange
The Grange is located in Edinburgh
The Grange
The Grange
Location within Edinburgh
OS grid referenceNT260716
Council area
Lieutenancy area
  • Edinburgh
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtEH9
Dialling code0131
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament

The Grange (originally St Giles' Grange) is a suburb of Edinburgh, about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the city centre, with Morningside and Greenhill to the west, Newington to the east, The Meadows park and Marchmont to the north, Blackford Hill to the south. It is a conservation area characterised by large early Victorian stone-built villas and mansions, often with very large gardens. The Grange was built mainly between 1830 and 1890, and the area represented the idealisation of country living within an urban setting. [1]

Character of the Area

The architectural form and green environment of The Grange are attributable to the picturesque movement and characterised by romantic, revivalism architectural forms that are original and individual in composition. The buildings are complemented by the profusion of mature trees, spacious garden settings, stone boundary walls and green open spaces. A significant level of uniformity is achieved from the use of local building materials, e.g. local grey sandstone in ashlar or coursed rubble with hand carved decoration, Scots slates, timber framed sash and case windows with plate glass. [2]

The Grange was predominantly developed around 1830, when the growing middle class of merchants and professionals in Edinburgh were looking for secluded location where to raise their families. The Grange had the advantages of physical separation from the overcrowded medieval city and offered individual dwellings in a predominantly suburban setting in contrast to the tenements of the Georgian New Town. Houses were built with their own private gardens surrounded by high stone walls; this was in contrast with the communal living of the more central areas. Each house has its individual fashionable style of the Victorian times. The outstanding quality of many of the villas is due to the insistence of the Dick Lauder family, who commissioned the houses, on high architectural standards. [3]


There are mentions of 'Sanct-Geill-Grange' in charters of King David and King Edgar, as church lands attached to St. Giles parish church in Edinburgh, the king retaining the superiority.[4] The word grange is common across Britain and normally links to an extensive farm with a central mansionhouse (corrupting to the word range in America). On 16 June 1376, King Robert II granted the superiority of the barony and lands of St Giles to his eldest son, John, Earl of Carrick, Steward of Scotland.[5] In 1391 the estate was conferred upon the Wardlaw family.[6]

On 29 October 1506, St Giles Grange passed to John Cant, a Burgess of Edinburgh, and his spouse Agnes Carkettle,[7] and in 1517 they granted the use of 18 acres (73,000 m2) of land to the nuns of St. Catherine of Siena.[8] On 19 March 1691 a John Cant sold St Giles Grange in its entirety to William Dick. At that time, the 18 acres (73,000 m2) previously feued to the nuns was now in the possession of Sir John Napier, the famous inventor of logarithms.[9] When Isabel Dick, the heiress, married Sir Andrew Lauder, 5th Baronet of Fountainhall, in 1731, The Grange passed to him.

Grange House

Grange House, 1897

The original tower house appears to be of a very early date, possibly the 13th century, ornamented with two turrets and a battlemented roof; its position was isolated at the eastern end of the Burgh Muir, which at that time consisted of waste tracts of moorland and morass, stretching out southward as far as the Braid Hills and eastward to St. Leonard's Crags.[10]

The mansion, The Grange House, was enlarged over the centuries, a major restoration being carried out by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bt.[11] On 16 May 1836, Lord Cockburn recorded in his diary: "There was an annular eclipse of the sun yesterday was a beautiful spectacle......I was on the top of the tower at The Grange House, with Sir Thomas Dick Lauder and his family."

After Sir Thomas's death in 1848, the fabric of the house gradually deteriorated, and by the 1930s the cost of maintenance and preservation had become prohibitive. Despite widespread protests, the house was demolished in 1936.[12] Bungalows and other houses were built on part of the site, in what is now Grange Crescent.

Stone wyverns from its gateposts, known locally as the 'Lauder griffins', were re-erected in Grange Loan. One was placed at the entrance to a stretch of Lover's Loan, a centuries-old path which was preserved in a late 19th-century redevelopment and is marked out with high stone walls separating it from the gardens on either side. At one point the path borders the Grange Cemetery, where various well-known people are buried, including Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Hugh Miller, and Thomas Chalmers.

City expansion

In 1825 Thomas Dick Lauder, the then owner of the Grange, sold off a large area of land for development (the area between the present Dick Place and Grange Road). This linked to a new access road to the east (now called Newington Road). Lauder controlled development of the land through a strong feuing plan and developments required his approval. The original feuing plan included curious plot names such as Little Transylvania and Greater Transylvania (both north of Grange Loan). Grange House remained in a large plot in the centre of Grange Loan.[13]

From the 1840s, The Grange was developed as an early suburb, built gradually upon the lands of The Grange estate — still owned by the Dick Lauder family. The area was originally laid out by the architect David Cousin but then the feuing was altered (1858) and greatly extended southwards (1877, following great success) by the architect Robert Reid Raeburn.[14]

Some of the Victorian villas still retain substantial mature trees and gardens which pre-date the housing. In 1835 Earl Grey (of Reform Bill fame) stayed with Sir Thomas Dick Lauder at The Grange House, and commemorated his visit by planting an oak-tree in a conspicuous spot in The Avenue, upon the bank of the north side, not very far from the ivy-clad arch. It was called 'Earl Grey's Oak' and was still healthy in 1898.[15] It is not known if it has survived.

Within the area lies the campus of the Astley Ainslie Hospital. This large area of ground was gifted as a hospital in 1921 as part of the will of John Ainslie.[13]

The grounds of the Carlton Cricket Club is the last vestige of the major open space which used to surround Grange House.

Grange Cemetery

Grange Cemetery viewing to entrance lodge
"Egyptian" tombstone sculpture, Grange Cemetery
The communal grave of the nuns of St Margaret's Convent, Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh
Looking northwards from within the catacombs in Grange Cemetery
The south path in Grange Cemetery

This was laid out in 1847 by the Edinburgh architect David Bryce and is more rectilinear in layout than its predecessors, Warriston Cemetery and Dean Cemetery. It was original entitled the Southern Edinburgh Cemetery.[16]

It includes a very interesting "Egyptian portal" to the land of the dead for the wife of a William Stuart (died 1868) on the north wall, by the sculptor Robert Thomson. Sculptures by William Birnie Rhind (Dr. James Cappie) and Henry Snell Gamley (David Menzies) can also be found. There are also multiple ornate Celtic crosses, mainly by Stewart McGlashan. The graves of Isabella Russell and Margaret McNicoll were designed by Robert Lorimer in 1904.[17] Other notable graves include:

There are war graves of 40 Commonwealth service personnel of both World Wars[21] and a communal grave for the nuns of St Margaret's Convent.

In popular culture

Residents of the suburb have included the author J.K. Rowling[22][23] and the former CEO of RBS, Fred Goodwin.[23] Goodwin relocated from The Grange after the vandalism to which his property there was subjected[24] but has since returned after his wife's throwing him out of their family home in Colinton due to revelations of his marital infidelity.[25]

The Grange was also a principal filming location during the production of the BBC Three comedy-drama Pramface which starred Scarlett Alice Johnson and Sean Michael Verey in the lead roles. The Grange features extensively in the showpiece but is appropriated in order to pose as an upmarket North London suburb due to its appearance similarities for the sake of plot integration.[26]

Another notable resident of The Grange include D. M. Macalister (1832-1909) who was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and served as Moderator of the General Assembly in 1902/03. In 1900 he was living at 32 Mansionhouse Road. [27]


  1. ^ "Grange conservation area".
  2. ^ "Grange conservation area".
  3. ^ "Grange conservation area".
  4. ^ Stewart-Smith, J., The Grange of St. Giles, Edinburgh, 1898: 2
  5. ^ The Great Seal of Scotland, 1306-1424: 27
  6. ^ The Great Seal of Scotland, 1306-1424: 40
  7. ^ The Great Seal of Scotland, 1424-1513: 2999
  8. ^ Stewart-Smith, J., The Grange of St. Giles, Edinburgh, 1898: 21
  9. ^ Stewart-Smith, J., The Grange of St. Giles, Edinburgh, 1898: 28-9
  10. ^ Stewart-Smith, J., The Grange of St. Giles, Edinburgh, 1898: 5
  11. ^ Stewart-Smith, J., The Grange of St. Giles, Edinburgh, 1898: 328-336
  12. ^ Smith, Charles J (1978). Historic South Edinburgh Volume 1. Edinburgh: Charles Skilton Ltd. p. 41.
  13. ^ a b Grange Conservation Area Character Appraisal: City of Edinburgh Council
  14. ^ Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
  15. ^ Stewart-Smith, J., The Grange of St. Giles, Edinburgh, 1898: 340
  16. ^ "View: Plan of Edinburgh, Leith & Suburbs / by W. & A. K. Johnston (showing the division... - Town Plans / Views, 1580-1919".
  17. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Lorimer
  18. ^ "Robert Flockhart (1778-1857)".
  19. ^ "Dr. Jessie H. Gellatly". Br Med J. 2: 188. 1935. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.3890.188-a. PMC 2460619. PMID 20779254.
  20. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Wilson
  21. ^ "CWGC Cemetery Report".
  22. ^ "The Grange Property - Prime Property - Edinburgh - Coulters Property". 26 November 2013.
  23. ^ a b "The Damnation of Fred Goodwin". HeraldScotland.
  24. ^ Percival, Jenny; Carrell, Severin (25 March 2009). "Vandals target Sir Fred Goodwin's house and car". The Guardian.
  25. ^ The Scotsman - Wife kicks cheating Sir Fred out of family home
  26. ^ "Edinburgh to be backdrop for new BBC comedy series".
  27. ^ Edinburgh Post Directory 1900


  • Stewart-Smith, J; The Grange of St Giles, Edinburgh, 1898, is possibly the best history of The Grange extant.

External links

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