Lasswade Church, Midlothian: preliminary design and finished drawings for a church, 1791, unexecuted
The medieval church in Lasswade had become heavily dilapidated by the late-eighteenth century. In 1791, it was decided by the presbytery committee to allow the church to fall to ruins and build a new church in the village. John Clerk of Eldin (1728-1812), Robert Adam’s brother-in-law, was present during the meeting when the decision was made and proposed a design for a new church having made a small sketch on the back of the meeting minutes which he sent to Henry Dundas (1742-1811). The design comprised a Greek-cross plan and included dimensions and details of the allocated seating.
Robert Adam also produced designs for Lasswade Church in 1791, also comprising a Greek-cross plan. The drawings in the Soane collection do not form a complete scheme and there are slight variations in design between the elevation, plan, and section. It is not clear who commissioned Adam to make these designs or whether this was in collaboration with Clerk with whom he dined with in 1791 whilst on his travels from London to Edinburgh. Richard Emerson in his 1995 article proposes some theories for Adam’s involvement, though these are speculative.
The church was built and complete in 1792, after Robert Adam’s death, and the church itself only broadly resembles Adam’s designs. The central block was raised with a hipped roof supporting a thin central spire and the recessed arches were larger and cut into a pediment on each side. King suggests that the church was likely built by another architect who had used Adam’s designs as a starting point. The church was demolished in 1956.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, Volume II, Index, 1922, p.21; D. King, The Complete Works of Robert & James Adam and Unbuilt Adam, Volume 1, 2001, pp. 381, 394; Volume 2, 2001, pp. 18; R. Emerson, ‘Robert Adam and John Clerk of Eldin’ in Gow & Rowan (eds.) Scottish Country Houses: 1600-1914, pp. 165-179; N. Pevsner, The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian, 1978, pp.276-277