Prestige viewing: Slice of history is whole other story

Few properties promising country living in the centre of the city can compare to this one-time farmhouse for Holyrood Palace

Holyrood House
Holyrood House

A lot of properties are described as offering country living in the city, but not many of them deliver on the promise in the way that St Ann’s Bank House in Edinburgh can.

Originally a farmhouse catering to Holyrood Palace, the beautiful building dates from 1711 and is set in its own walled grounds.

Its land once reached all the way to the palace, over to Lochend and up to Parsons Green, and while the footprint today is much smaller, the owners of the property retain grazing rights on Arthur’s Seat.

Holyrood House

Outside, the city has encroached over the centuries, but within the walls is an oasis peppered with apple, plum and cherry trees and bordered with raspberries, gooseberries and rhubarb bushes, in a place that was once voted the most romantic garden in Scotland.

A glass vinery runs along one wall and is home to productive vines, thought to be over a 100 years old.

The house itself is stunning, with unmistakably Georgian proportions but a real sense of home. The current owner, a stone mason, believes the house was originally constructed from materials taken from the nearby St Anthony’s Chapel ruins in Holyrood Park, including the interior stone staircase which is of basalt quarried from Arthur’s Seat. It is the only left-hand stone staircase over two floors in Scotland.

The house is on three storeys, with the living room and dining room on the ground floor. Beyond the dining room is a breakfasting kitchen and a utility room with access to the vinery.

Holyrood House

Adjacent to this is the more contemporary annexe, comprising a living room with high-vaulted ceilings and a mezzanine double bedroom.

On the first floor of the main house are three large double bedrooms, a bathroom, and a study space, while the top floor has another three double bedrooms and a bathroom.

However, the historic property has potential for future growth. The ruins of a barn sit within the grounds and architectural plans have been drawn to create the addition of a free-standing gym, office or self-contained flat.

Whatever the end use, the standalone building would have amazing views of Arthur’s Seat.

Holyrood House

Planning was previously granted for an extension to the house’s kitchen too, replacing the annex which would create a fantastic cooking and entertaining space more than 30 feet in length.

Conservation-grade roof lights light the whole area from above, and the rooms – which would have originally been a livestock byre – have been fully insulated.

The outbuildings also include a double garage and two sheds, one with a shower to hose down the dog after a walk around Holyrood Park, accessed just across the road.

The current owner bought the house in 2007 and has enjoyed everything about its unique set up.

Holyrood House

He says: “We have a photo from the 1920s with the vine already established. It produces green and red grapes. The apple tree we think is a couple of hundred years old and is amazingly bountiful.”

He explains: “With the garden we were lucky that a previous owner put a lot of work into it so all it needs is maintenance now.

“The significant jobs we have carried out in our time have been masonry work to the roof, chimneys and the boundary wall.”

Reclaimed flagstones from St Cuthbert’s on the Royal Mile were used as skew stones on the roof to maintain historical integrity.

The owner is selling with a heavy heart, but he says; “It has been a lovely place to live, and although we have never used the grazing rights on Arthur’s Seat it is nice to know that if we had a flock of sheep, we could have done. It is a unique house, private and peaceful but just a mile from Waverley station.”

St Ann’s Bank House, Spring Gardens, Edinburgh is priced at £1.25m. For more information, telephone Strutt & Parker on 0131-516 9205.

Holyrood House

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Holyrood House
Holyrood House