Basic Site Details

Name: Signet Library
City or county: Edinburgh
Country: Scotland
Parish:  
Status: A listed
Grid ref:
Notes: May be some William Notman input ? See NMRS Notman drawings.

N.B. The Corinthian columns at the top are by Playfair and the Ionic columns below and the stairs themselves are by Burn.

Alternative Names

The following alternative names are associated with this building/design:
 NameCurrent name?Notes
Item 1 of 1Advocates Library Original name - now changed

Building Type Classification

The building is classified under the following categories:
 ClassificationOriginal classification?Notes
Item 1 of 2Hall  
Item 2 of 2Library  

Events

The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 1017781779Plans drawn upUnexecuted design for library and new hall for Writers to the Signet
Item 2 of 101778  Salisbury consulted baout new library by the Writers to the Signet.
Item 3 of 1018121816Build/constructionLower Signet Library and Advocates Library (the latter now the Upper Signet Library)
Item 4 of 101815 Plans drawn upMeasuring of work at library
Item 5 of 1018181819Build/constructionStaircase for the Faculty of Advocates
Item 6 of 10After 1828Before 1845 Survey plans - perhaps alterations - Upper Hall
Item 7 of 101833 Alterations and additionsRemodelled W H Playfair's staircase in order to open communication between Lower and Upper Libraries. Ionic columns, stairs and ironwork are by Burn.
Item 8 of 101899 Design exhibitedDesign exhibited - Upper ahll?
Item 9 of 10c. 1900c. 1901Alterations and additionsUpper Hall?
Item 10 of 101950s RestorationRefurbishment over a number of years

People

Design and Construction

The following individuals or organisations have carried out design/construction work. Where architects or practices worked together, matching letters appear beside their names in the Partnership Group column.
 NameRolePartnership GroupFromToNotes
Item 1 of 17James SalisburyArchitect, BuilderK1778 Consulted by the Writers to the Signet about new library.
Item 2 of 17James CraigArchitectT17781779Unexecuted design for library and new hall for the Writers to the Signet
Item 3 of 17Robert ReidArchitectC18121816External shell of the Sigent and Advocates' Library (now the Upper and lower Signet Library).

Reid originally designed interiors for these libraries whoich form two storeys of the same building, but both the Writers to the Sigent and the Faculty of Advocates commissioned William Stark to design the interiors. Reid as the government architect supervised the execution of Stark's designs.

Staircase design?
Item 4 of 17William StarkArchitectG18121815Designs drawn up and work begun. Interior of Signet Library.
Item 5 of 17William StarkArchitectJ18121816Interior of the Advocates Library (now the Upper Signet Library).
Item 6 of 17John HenryArchitectJ18131816Executed Stark's plans and drew up further designs for example altering Robert Reid staircase and for ante-room to the new library.
Item 7 of 17Robert BrownArchitectC1815 Acted as assistant to Robert Reid
Item 8 of 17George CairncrossArchitect, BuilderH1815 'Mr Cairncross, an Ordained measurer' undertook measured work at library
Item 9 of 17William Henry PlayfairArchitectF18191820Staircase for the Faculty of Advocates (to upper floor)
Item 10 of 17Grainger & MillerArchitectural practice, EngineersBAfter 1828Before 1845Survey plans - perhaps alterations - Upper Hall
Item 11 of 17Thomas GraingerEngineerBAfter 1828Before 1845Survey plans - perhaps alterations - Upper Hall
Item 12 of 17William BurnArchitectC1833 Remodelled W H Playfair's staircase in order to open communication between Lower and Upper Libraries. Ionic columns, stairs and ironwork are by Burn. This was for the Writers to the Signet after they had acquired the upper library from the Advocates in 1826.
Item 13 of 17George Kay Green  1899 Design exhibited - Upper Hall
Item 14 of 17Arthur George Sydney MitchellArchitectAc. 1899c. 1910Alterations and additions - Upper Hall
Item 15 of 17George WilsonArchitectAc. 1899c. 1910Alterations and additions- Upper Hall
Item 16 of 17Sydney Mitchell & WilsonArchitectural practiceAc. 1899c. 1910Alterations and additions - Upper Hall
Item 17 of 17John Denoon CarnegieArchitectG1950s(?)Refurbishment over a number of years

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Academy Architecture1899 part 1 p98
Item 2 of 5Brown, Iain Gordon1989Building for Books: The Architectural Evolution of the Advocates' Library, 1689-1925 Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Pressp95. Also Chapter 6 as a whole.
Item 3 of 5Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 4 of 5Cruft, K and Fraser, A (ed)1995James Craig 1744-1795  p112
Item 5 of 5Writers to the Signet1890History of Writers to the Signet  pp409-11, 431, 439

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this building:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIAS Chartered Architect1990December Obituary of John Denoon Carnegie

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 5Edinburgh University LibraryPlans1 and Portfolio 6Also letter book no 4 (covering years 1830-33)
Item 2 of 5Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register27709 
Item 3 of 5National Archives of ScotlandCategory EE 343/2p197 (Minutes of the Trustees for Public Buildings)
Item 4 of 5National Archives of ScotlandCategory EE 343/3p24
Item 5 of 5National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSSydney Mitchell & Wilson Collection SMW 1900/8/1-3 (for Grainger & Miller and Sydney Mitchell work)