Lennox Street Lane offers a beautiful home with further potential, finds Kirsty McLuckie
Mews homes in the city, by their very nature, are somewhat unassuming.
Tucked down side streets and behind grander homes, they were designed in the Georgian and Victorian eras to house carriages, horses and servants, probably with that order of priority.
But converted to modern residential use they have a lot to offer city dwellers.
The mews at Lennox Street Lane in Edinburgh’s West End were built as stables and carriage houses with haylofts and groom’s accommodation above, to serve the households of Clarendon Crescent.
“We have been visited by families who lived here when the houses were stables, although it must have been a lot less comfortable”
Victoria Thorburn, who is originally from Canada but was moving from London in the 1980s, fell in love with the quiet courtyard setting of the homes there and originally lived at number 23, before buying the top half of number 20 at the end of the row.
She says: “I rented out the property until the rooms below came up for sale. The carriage area had been used for a garage and the stable was empty, with the door to the upstairs blocked off.”
She then embarked on an ambitious reconfiguration and refurbishment project which has created one of the best examples of mews home in the city.
The house is approached through an archway of roses above a gate to a door at the side. Victoria says: “It means that you can park outside the house without blocking the entrance and also gives a lovely sunny spot to sit out. The road is a cul-de-sac so it is very quiet.
“Ian Rankin mentioned the mews in one of his books, so you occasionally get fans coming for a look.”
Inside, the downstairs part of the house now has a double bedroom with ensuite and an adjoining study. The stair to the upstairs is from the vestibule, so the ground floor accommodation could be let to guests without infringing too much on the privacy of the rest of the house.
The first floor is a surprise; the original height needed to house a carriage has been retained in a drawing room at the far end and the whole house has large windows flooding it with light.
The feel is one of luxurious space, which you don’t expect in a mews.
The kitchen is open plan to a dining room and further family room, and tucked into the middle is a second double bedroom, shower room and separate loo.
Victoria says: “ We were also able to enclose a big section of the loft and there is a great deal of storage space there – perhaps one day it could become a third floor. A balcony was one of the things on my wish list and it’s been done in some of the other properties.”
In fact, the house, beautiful as it is, still offers a great deal of potential with planning permission already in place to create a third bedroom.
Victoria says: “I’ve seen some of the mews in London that have had wildly imaginative conversions, with roof gardens and car lifts in the basement and if I were staying I might be tempted to investigate some of those possibilities.”
She says the location has meant a close-knit community of residents has formed, with each neighbour prizing their privacy but keeping an eye out for others. “We have a cottage in Canada, so spend time there and I’ve always felt that the house here is very secure while we are away.”
Residents, once they have discovered the benefits of the location, tend to stay a long time. Victoria says that most of the neighbours, like her, have been there for decades and one lady has lived all her life in the lane.
“We also have been visited by families who lived here in the past when the houses were stables with accommodation above, although it must have been a lot less comfortable – tales of whole families sleeping in one room because it was so cold.”
A job move to Hampshire means that Victoria is reluctantly giving up her Edinburgh base but having only dreamed of being able to live in such a house in London, her years here have been a joy.
She says: “I was always attracted to the idea of privacy, and of having a house in such a central location with the beautiful Dean Gardens and Belgrave Crescent Gardens right on the doorstep.
“And it has been such a privilege to be able to spend many a summer evening in a deck chair outside enjoying a glass of wine in such a quiet spot in the middle of the city.”
KEYS TO KNOW
• 20, Lennox Street Lane is in the West End of Edinburgh, close to the Dean Bridge.
• It occupies half the ground floor of the building and the whole of the first floor.
• Entry is through a private side gate and there is private residents’ parking.
• The property has two bedrooms, plus kitchen, dining room, drawing room and study.
• Offers over £525,000, contact Strutt & Parker on 0131 226 2500