Lost architectural magic

In order to get the steppage up, KryptoMart and I went walking round uber posh Merchiston where we discovered the remains of the what was one the magical mansion called Rockville. Here on the left is what the house looked like and on the right, all that is sadly left, the drive pillars, which are now listed themselves!

Rockville designed (and lived in) by the architect James Gowans, has been described as "the strangest house ever built in Edinburgh".

Local names for it included "The Pagoda", "The Chinese House", "Tottering Towers" and "Crazy Manor". It was a wild gingerbread house style affair with a five storey (64 foot) tower with viewing platform. Every dormer was in a different pattern and style, every chimney stack was highly elaborate and different from the next. Its gate lodge was like a Hansel and Gretel house. Both lodge and house included stones from every quarry in Scotland plus some Chinese stones to reflect its style. It was the "embodiment of a Gothic novel". But Gowans did not see it as frivolous or extravagant: it was built on a grid system with "no desire to create novelty". It was intended to create an economic and aesthetically pleasing result and certainly succeeded.

It sat in an acre of ground filled with statues by John Rhind his father-in-law.

It had gas lighting in all rooms and elaborate interiors to match its extravagant exterior. Above the kitchen range it read "Waste not, Want not".

It was demolished in 1966 after a public outcry and 2500 signature petition attempted to save it (a rarity in those non-conservation-minded days) and replaced by three blocks of flats ("The Limes"). All that survives on site is its boundary wall and some gateposts. However one statue was removed and now sits on the lower path in West Princes Street Gardens: "The Genius of Architecture crowned by the Theory and Practice of Art".

All I can say is that the sixties, have a lot to answer for, absolutely outrageous!

Anyway, here's hoping you have had a good Saturday.

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