- HER number: MEL1285
- Site Name: Balgone House
- Grid Reference: 356640 682324
- Civil Parish:
- Monument Type:
- Country House (Post Medieval)
- Lairds House (Post Medieval)
- Grange (Medieval)
- Summary: Mansion with complex history, 17th-19th centuries, incorporating earlier elements, possibly a grange of North Berwick Nunnery
- Description: NT58SE 26.00 5668 8235
NT58SE 26.01 5661 8236 Coachhouse (North Pavillion)
(NT 5665 8235) Balgone House (NAT)
OS 6" map (1968)
Balgone House 'in former times presented the usual architectural proportions of a Scottish mansion of the 17th century, but it has recently been considerably improved'.
J Small 1883
Externally this building is entirely modern in appearance but it is probable that, inside, some 17th century work is incorporated. There are no records available regarding the house (Miss E Grant-Suttie, Balgone House).
Visited by OS (WDJ) 15 November 1962
Balgone House: An accumulation of the 17th-19th centuries. It began with the L-shaped 17th century part at the S end. This was lengthened about 1700, and the polygonal stair-turret duplicated so that the main (W) front became symmetrical. At the same time it was given the two storey piend-roofed pavilions with quadrant links. Finally, about 1860, the wall between the turrets was pushed out flush with their faces on both levels, the turrets themselves were crowned with balustrades, and a baronial wing was added at the NE.
C McWilliam 1978
Historic Scotland Listed Building Description: 3-storey mansion with complex building history. 17th century
L-plan house with circular stair tower to S, lengthened to N
by 3 bays post 1739 to create symmetrical plan and elevation
with original stair made polygonal and given a mirrored
counterpart; balustraded in-fill and Baronial rear additions
of early 19th century; Baronial wing at N almost certainly by
J Anderson Hamilton circa 1860. Earlier work and in-fill in
purple rubble with ashlar dressings; formerly harled, some
retained. Baronial extension in stugged grey ashlar.
Chamfered arrises to openings.
W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 9-bay, symmetrical; segmentally
arched doorway at centre (early 19th century) flanked by wide
similarly arched windows. 3 tall 1st floor windows above
with balustraded platform in front of smaller 18th
century 2nd floor windows. Projecting full-height balustraded
bays flanking, canted from mitred angle at 2nd floor. 2
recessed outer bays each side with regular windows to 1st and
2nd floors; irregular ground floor openings. Moulded eaves
N ELEVATION: irregular composition with circa 1860 addition
to left and overlapping earlier work to right. End gable
(early 18th century) visible, recessed at outer right,
refaced in ashlar; crowstepped gable above 2 right bays and
stair tower to left with rounded angles, narrow windows and
gabled top stage breaking eaves, corbelled to square and with
string courses. 3 recessed bays to left of 2 storeys; small
ground floor windows, gables above outer bays linked by
stepped parapet with blank panel.
E ELEVATION: Baronial style of early and later 19th century
additions at centre and to right, detailed as above, with 3
recessed bays of earlier house to left and further, recessed
gable (17th century) to outer left.
S ELEVATION: comprises original-plan house with rectangular
plan single storey, gabled, later 19th century engine house
linked to main house, with large ventilator and battered
stack, adjoining at ground.
12-pane glazing pattern to sash and case windows with 4-pane
glazing to Baronial work. Gablehead stacks. Thistle, star and
crescent finials to Baronial crowstepped gables. Grey slates
with segmentally arched small attic dormers.
INTERIOR: ruinous. Bolection moulding to original doorway at
centre to W. Fine ceilings over stairwell in Baronial
addition and in Dining Room. Notable chimneypieces added in
early 19th century.
Balgone House is a fascinating and highly unusual example of the development of a Scottish mansion over time and is of national importance for its evidence of the changing fashions and demands of its occupiers over the last 500 years. The history of the building is highly complex and there are many aspects which have denied easy explanation. The exact origins of the building are not certain but the survival of early fabric is extensive, with complex changes both overlaying and re-working to present an intriguing tapestry. The presence of the small vaulted chambers suggest a more humble building, a border bastle house or simple tower house, existing prior to the 17th century L-plan house. The 15th century chimneypiece likewise indicates an earlier date. It may originally have been set in a room of more appropriate proportions in terms of height and length but this cannot be determined with any certainty from the fabric presently exposed. The potential link between the house and the 12C North Berwick Cistercian nunnery (ruinous by late 16C) may explain its derivation but its antiquity and interest is demonstrable regardless.
The house was further adapted in the 18th century to meet the demands of symmetry, although this stopped short of the creation of a classical pedimented frontage. The 19th century brought further adaptation with two additions, the first early in the century, with a ballustered infill to the W elevation creating a new entrance, along with a Baronial wing to the rear. In 1860 a further Baronial wing, almost certainly by J Anderson Hamilton, was added to the north. These 19th century works have been demolished as part of the late 20th century restoration.
A designed landscape which once surrounded the house is now much eroded but vestiges remain and notable planting such as the yew square. The two 18th century classical pavilions with dummy quadrant links extend the grand effect, a theatrical achievement in view of the single pile plan.
The house and estate were the property of the Sutties from 1680 to the later 20th century. The pavilions to N and S and the North and South Lodges of the estate are now in separate ownership and are listed separately.
Upgraded from category B to A (2007) following interior inspections which evidenced fabric of national importance.
A-Group with Coach House (North Pavilion) and South Pavilion (see separate listings).
- For more information contact: East Lothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- Bibliographic reference: Small, J. 1883a. The castles and mansions of the Lothians. Vol.1.
- Bibliographic reference: Coventry, M. 2001. The castles of Scotland, 3rd edition. 70.
- Bibliographic reference: Allen, S B C. 1989. Balgone House: survey and fabric investigation.
- Bibliographic reference: McWilliam, C E. 1978a. Lothian except Edinburgh. 89.