St Ninian's Manse
by Simpson & Brown Architects
for Cockburn Conservation Trust
St Ninian's Manse played a vital role in the development and identity of Leith. It stood at the head of the first bridge to North Leith and marks its first religious foundation. It contains masonry from the only pre-reformation building to survive in the area and is an unusual example of a 17th century clergy building associated with an urban church. It was extended in the early 18th century.
The adaptation of the manse to offices was based upon documentary and physical research. The stone ridges that had been removed and used on the adjacent granary building were reinstated. The belfry openings had been boarded up using the original louvers, which were re-set in their proper position. The original gilded copper weathercock, in possession of the National Museum of Scotland since 1900, was examined before making the reproduction. Fragments of the original limewash were uncovered and one of the louver panels was analysed to reveal the history of paint layers since the construction of the belfry in 1675.
The interior was conserved and inappropriate modern additions removed. The lime plaster was reinstated directly onto the wall in the earlier parts of the building and on chestnut lathing in the 18th century part. The ground floor had been radically altered in the 20th century. A conference room was formed and a reception area which stands within the pend that originally led to the interior of the church. Work was completed on St Ninian's Manse in 1997.