Basic Site Details

Name: Royal Faculty of Procurators
City or county: Glasgow
Country: Scotland
Status: A listed
Grid ref:
Notes: Venetian.

Like many other public bodies in this vast city, having ancient rights and accumulated wealth, the Faculty of Procurators were desirous of possessing a place of meeting specially their own, and for this purpose have completed this building, the munificence and beauty of which, while it evinces their fine taste and princely magnificence, displays to full advantage the great artistic abilities of its architect, and the capabilities of the modern Italian style, when in proper hands, to adapt itself to every convenience of modern life.

The construction of the building is of the most substantial character, the whole exterior walls being composed of polished freestone of a very fine quality, the shafts of columns in upper story are each in single stones, and all the floors are laid on brick arches, supported on cast-iron girders ; the girders under the upper floor are each 32 feet long. The keystones of windows and doors in ground floor are ornamented with heads of many of the most distinguished Scottish law lords and lawyers. In the front to West Nile-street, beginning at the north window, are the carved likenesses of Lords Erskine, Mansfield, and Brougham; in West George-street, of Lord Blair, John Erskine, Lords Stair, Kaimes, and Forbes; in St. George's-place are James Reddie and Professor Miller (both of Glasgow), then Lords Moncrieff, Jeffrey, Cockburn, and Rutherford. Over the principal door is placed the head of Lord Jeffrey, and over the other that of Lord Stair, as if to remind entrants of the penetration and sagacity, the acumen and erudition, as well as the probity necessary successfully to master and practise the difficult science of jurisprudence. On the keystones of the triplet windows at each end of library are placed carved shields with the armorial bearings of the Faculty.

The door in centre of front to West George-street opens on the lower hall, which is 29 feet 9 inches by 59 feet, having a clear ceiling of 17 feet; this hall is used for the weekly sales of property, meetings of creditors and of the Faculty; it is also entered from entrance-hall at door from St. George's place. A spacious arcaded staircase and two large committee rooms in the re-entrant angle of this place include the whole accommodation on this floor. The library is immediately over the hall for sales, and is of the same dimensions; it is divided in its breadth into a nave and two aisles: the aisles are vaulted from square Corinthian columns, but the ceiling of the nave or centre compartment is flat and at a greater height, namely, 24 feet 6 inches above floor, the space over columns from top of arches to flat ceiling being enriched with a full Corinthian entablature. This apartment, like the hall below, is lighted on three sides, the centre compartment having at each end a fine triplet window, as seen in the east and west elevations. The bookcases are placed between the pillars and the walls, and along the north wall, and in each bay between pillars are placed tables for the readers, the centre of room being left clear for meetings, etc. These book-cases and all the furniture have been made from the architect's designs, of fine wainscot highly polished. The decorations have been very successfully carried out, the effect produced, whilst rich and magnificent in colour, has that quietness and repose so essential in a place devoted to serious study. The columns are painted in dark green marble, highly burnished, the capitals and mouldings of base are gilded, and the walls are painted in imitation Venetian leather of a deep marine colour, with a diaper pattern and border of a lighter shade, the ceilings are divided into panels and painted of a clear blue tint, the plaster enrichments of entablature and of bands on ceilings and arches being picked out in gold and colours. As a whole, this building is compact and convenient in its arrangements, ornate but substantial in character, and while a great ornament to the city, is no less an honour to its talented architect, Mr Charles Wilson, of Glasgow, a gentleman to whom that city is indebted for many of the finest structures which grace her streets.

The tradesmen engaged on the work were: masons, Messrs Watson and Bruce; wrights, Mr James Connell; plasterer, Mr Daniel Smith ; plumbers, Messrs Barbour and Stewart; slater, Mr William Darrie. All the carving in stone was executed by Mr. Shanks in a highly artistic manner; the keystone-heads were done from models by Mr. Handyside Ritchie, sculptor, of Edinburgh, and all the other ornament from models by Mr James Steel, modeller, Glasgow. All the plaster enrichments were also executed from models by Mr Steel, and deserve special commendation. Messrs Hugh Boyle and Company were the painters and decorators. [Building News 31 August 1860 p683]

Building Type Classification

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

Street Addresses

The following street addresses are associated with this building:
 AddressMain entrance?Notes
Item 1 of 312, Nelson Mandela PlaceYesFormerly St George's Place
Item 2 of 3St George's Place Now Nelson Mandela Place
Item 3 of 362-68, West George StreetYes 


The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 41854  Competition for hall
Item 2 of 418721875 Alterations and additions, including library
Item 3 of 419381939 Orr Library extension
Item 4 of 41970s or 1980s RestorationRestoration of library


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 5Charles Wilson  1854 Won commission for hall
Item 2 of 5John Thomas Emmett  1854 Competition design for hall; Charles Wilson appointed
Item 3 of 5David Thomson  18721875Alterations and additions, including library
Item 4 of 5Thomas Harold Hughes  19381939Orr Library extension
Item 5 of 5John Robertson Notman G1970s or 1980s Restoration of library


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
Item 1 of 4RIBA1981Directory of Practices 1981   
Item 2 of 4Sinclair, Fiona J, ed1995Charles Wilson Architect 1810-1863: A Question of Style Glasgow: Park Circus Promotions, 1995p23
Item 3 of 4Thomson, David1882Memoir of Charles Wilson13 March 1882Proceedings of the Glasgow Philosophical Society 
Item 4 of 4Williamson, Riches, Higgs1990Glasgow (The Buildings of Scotland)  p250

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this building:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3BuilderLate 1940CLIX pp550-551
Item 2 of 3Building News31 August 1860vi 679, (illustration) and 683
Item 3 of 3Scotsman29 July 2009  Obituary of Notman

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 2Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register33235 
Item 2 of 2National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSDrawings Collection Plans dated 1854