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Kings Cramond, Midlothian: designs for a house for George Ramsay c.1792, executed to a variant design (3)

Signed and dated

  • c.1792
    dtable to c.1792


In the early-eighteenth century, the King’s Cramond estate (also known as King’s Crommond or Cramond Regis) was combined with Barnton to form one large estate. William Ramsay, Director of the Royal Bank of Scotland, bought the estate from Lady Glenorchy of c.1786 for his son George Ramsay (c.1769-1810). William Ramsay was considered one of the richest men of business in Great Britain and his son, George, also appears to have worked in banking and to have benefited from his father's wealth.

Ramsay commissioned Robert Adam to design a castle-style building named ‘Barnton Castle’ for George between c.1786 and 1792 (SM Adam volume 29/72-79). The castle was not built and in c.1792, the patron commissioned Adam to remodel the existing building, an L-shaped tower house, at King’s Crammond instead. Adam proposed to add a three-storey, five-bay range to the house to create a U-shaped building enclosing a small courtyard to the rear as shown in the elevation and plans (SM Adam volume 46/39-41). On the principal front, Adam proposed a circular three-storey, three-bay tower with a conical roof flanked by crow-stepped gables to either side.

The house, which was later renamed ‘Barnton House’, was heavily remodelled in the nineteenth century and – without any earlier documentation of the house – it is unclear how much of Adam’s proposals were executed. Later photographic evidence shows a significantly larger house with a four-storey circular tower and without crow-stepped gables. The scheme was implemented after Adam’s death and King suggests it may have been supervised by James Adam or possibly David Hamilton from Glasgow, who made alterations to the building in c.1810. The house was demolished in c.1920.

A.T. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 3, p. 85; D. King, The Complete Works of Robert & James Adam and Unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume 1, pp. 223-4; Volume 2, pp. 156-161; H. M. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 2008, p. 54; Canmore: National Record of the Historic Environment online, ‘Barnton House’ [accessed on 24 January 2022]; R. Thorne (ed.) ‘Edinburgh, The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820’ History of Parliament, online [accessed on 24 January 2022]; The Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany, Volume 72, 1810, p. 80

Louisa Catt, 2022



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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Kings Cramond, Midlothian: designs for a house for George Ramsay c.1792, executed to a variant design (3)