Lamb’s House is one of the finest surviving examples of a merchant’s house in Scotland and is now the most significant building of its age in Leith. The house, built in 1610, is category A-listed and lies within the medieval core of the Leith Conservation Area, close to the old harbour. Despite having suffered many inappropriate alterations over its long life, the form and essential character of the house remained intact and many of its original features survive today. These include the stone turnpike stair, fireplaces, slop sinks and most of the original pine beams.
Saved from demolition and partly restored by the 4th Marquis of Bute in 1938, Lamb’s House was given to the National Trust for Scotland by Lord David Stuart in 1958. The restoration was completed and the interior adapted for use as an old people’s centre, with the addition of a hall extension in 1960-62. In April 2010, GRAS’s directors acquired the building from the NTS. Its condition was poor, heavily vandalised and very institutional.
Once all inappropriate modern interventions were removed the rebuilding started. The roof was finished with 18th-century hand-made Swedish pantiles found in a barn in Fife. New hand-made glass was fitted to the leaded windows, made by specialist lead glass conservators in Hungary. Siberian larch in unusually large dimensions was sourced for the missing beams, floors, ceilings and doors. All ironmongery, latches, handles, hinges, nails, handrails and gates were made by a local blacksmith. A contracting company was formed by GRAS to supervise the local craftsmen, plasterers, joiners, painters and plumbers. In addition to conservation and restoration of the existing building, a new office extension and pavilion were built, both designed in a late 17th- or early 18th-century style. The last phase of works involved reinstatement of the original ‘close’ or street along the immediate frontage of the house and the creation of a Renaissance-type garden with box hedging forming parterres.
Internally the house is fairly simple, with plastered walls, timber or plaster ceilings, timber floors, doors and timber and leaded windows. All timber floors and doors are left untreated. Where possible salvaged materials are used, such as for the stone floors, timber worktops, sink and taps. Cast iron goods came from a local foundry and insulation made from sheep’s wool is also used.
GRAS acted as architect, developer and main contractor on the restoration project. The new and existing buildings are now used as a family home and studio for the firm, exactly as was the case in the early 17th century when it was the home and business premises of Andrew Lamb. The project has won several awards, including RIAS Award for Architecture 2016, The Sunday Times British Homes Award for Restoration 2016, The Herald Property Award for Scotland for Best Renovation/Conversion 2016, and The Scottish Design Award for Re-Use of a Listed Building 2016.
RIAS Award for Architecture 2016
Sunday Times British Homes Award 2016
Herald Property Award 2016
Scottish Design Award 2016
Lamb’s House Details
Ground Floor Plan
Leaded windows with handmade Hungarian glass
Stone turnpike stair
Artist's studio with barrel-vaulted ceiling in Siberian larch
Internally the house is fairly simple, with plastered walls, timber or plaster ceilings, timber floors, doors and timber and leaded windows. All timber floors and doors are left untreated. Where possible salvaged materials are used such as on the stone floors, timber worktops, sink, taps etc. Sheep’s wool insulation was used. Materials were sourced locally where possible but most of the new timber came from Siberia via Poland and the glass from Hungary. Cast iron goods came from a local foundry.
- Locally sourced materials