An Edinburgh home through the generations

Barlanark is set in its own woodland and garden grounds.
Barlanark is set in its own woodland and garden grounds.
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Barlanark at 8 Arboretum Road is an iconic property in the heart of Inverleith in Edinburgh.

Not only is this the first time the house has been on the market since it was built in 1929 but it is also remarkable in that it has changed so little in its history.

The house is sunny with beautiful interiors such as the drawing room.

The house is sunny with beautiful interiors such as the drawing room.

It is all down to keeping it in one family.

Laurence Anderson, who recently inherited the house from his mother along with his siblings says she inherited it from her parents and it was designed and built by his grandfather, Laurence Hill Watson and his grandmother Marjory.

Laurence says of his namesake: “He had fought at Gallipoli but returned home and became an advocate and later a judge and he used to walk to his chambers and the law courts from the house.

“His extended family owned Barlanark House in Glasgow but that was demolished around the time that this was built, hence the name.”

It was his grandmother who perhaps had the most influence on the design of the new house.

Laurence explains: “She was English, so instead of being built in a Scots baronial style, the house has a very English country house feel, with features such as the wide covered veranda.”

It is true that the house could be equally suited to the home counties but its design doesn’t jar, perhaps because it is set in an equally English garden.

Marjory was a keen gardener and, with the help of a chauffeur-cum-groundsman, she landscaped the lawns and borders to match the feel of the house.

The garden is a remarkable size, considering the proximity to the city, but it is also about quality.

With its woodland area and herbaceous borders you could say the garden at Barlanark rivals the Royal Botanic Garden which is virtually next door.

A pretty rose garden lies outside the library window, which must have made it a restful spot for a judge to consider his cases.

Over the years very little has changed. More land for a vegetable patch was purchased during the Second World War but that has now grown into a woodland which Laurence’s generation referred to as “the jungle” when they were children.

His mother, Juliet, grew up in the house before inheriting it herself and moving back in with her husband David, also an advocate, when Laurence was six, so he spent his childhood playing in the surroundings with his brother and sister.

He says: “My mother really wanted to keep it exactly the same as when she lived in it with her parents, so very little has been changed.”

Juliet carried on her mother’s work in the grounds and was herself a hugely talented gardener.

The mix of formal and country garden, rose beds and herbaceous borders is as breathtaking now as it must have been in Barlanark’s heyday.

As for the building, again the family always appreciated it the way it was, so very little from the architect’s highly detailed original plans which were found in the attic has ever been lost or replaced.

Laurence says: “We put in central heating in the 1960s, but really everything down to the door handles, wood panelling, kitchen cabinetry is original.”

Also available are all the receipts relating to the build. It makes for a fascinating read and includes records of payments for the now statuesque mature trees showing exactly when they were planted.

Laurence says: “The level of detail in these papers is astonishing, and also the quality of the fittings which were commissioned and hand crafted for the house. No wonder they have lasted.”

The brightly painted yellow window frames are a notable feature; the colour was recommended by the original architect and, like everything else, they have remained the same over the decades.

Barlanark could now benefit from modernisation, but the quality of the raw materials, the grounds and the location will attract interest.

It is an iconic house the likes of which rarely comes on the market.

James Whitson of Rettie & Co says: “Every Edinburgh Academy pupil will know the house with the yellow windows, and this is a wonderful opportunity to purchase a unique part of north Edinburgh.”

Offers over £1.7million, contact Rettie & Co

on 0131 220 4160.