Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


EWH grant for Learmonth Terrace House

EWH has awarded a grant to help conserve a highly distinctive Victorian town house.

Jan 21, 2013

No.25 Learmonth Terrace was designed in 1891 for Arthur Sanderson, a wine merchant and whisky distiller who had bought a large collection of old-master paintings, antiques, porcelain and sculpture. The interiors were finely decorated by William Scott Morton, with each room individually designed according to the art displayed.

In 1908 Sanderson’s business ran into difficulties and in 1915 his house and all its treasures were sold to cover his debts. In 1925 the building was bought for the newly formed 603 Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Today it is still used by the Reserve and Cadet Forces.

The repayable grant of £290,381 will help conserve the exterior of the category A listed building, including stonework and slate repairs, conservation of the decorative front door, and repairs to the cast-iron gutters and downpipes. Work is about to start on site and is expected to take around 8 months to complete. The grant has been awarded under the Conservation Funding Programme, and is repayable on the sale or transfer of the building.

Scott Morton & Co.

The obituary for Arthur Sanderson in the Scotsman described his Learmonth Terrace house as, “This palatial residence splendidly appointed and elegantly furnished contained much evidence of his taste in matters of art.”

This sumptuous interior was the work of William Scott Morton, who along with his brother John had established a reputation as Scotland’s foremost interior designers. Their firm of Scott Morton & Co. was established in Edinburgh 1870, with a workshop at Tynecastle and office in St Andrew Square.

Along with designs for carpets, tiles, and chimney-pieces, the firm patented ‘Tynecastle tapestry’. This was a wall-covering, with a leather-like material which could be embossed, aged and gilded. As success followed success, the firm also  designed whole interiors for private houses, steam yachts and railway carriages, particularly for Egyptian, Argentine and South African railways.

No.25 Learmonth Terrace represents one of the best examples of their work. From the Grecian themed entrance hall, to the Renaissance Dining Room, the Drawing Room inspired by Robert Adam, and guest bedroom in the style of Louis XIII. It is said that a master-joiner started and finished his apprenticeship working on the chimney-pieces in the Billard Room.

Morton once wrote: “We ought to make it a promise to keep up the sunshine inside if we don’t have it so bright externally.”

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