The House

Mavisbank House was commissioned by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik one of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment and designed by Clerk with William Adam, father of the Adam brothers and the leading architect of early eighteenth century Scotland. It was constructed in the 1720s.

Mavisbank is Scotland’s most important small country house: the primary example of the ‘villa’ built within commuting distance of a town or city. Conceived by an antiquarian, it was both an exemplar of ‘Roman’ living and a beacon of the new post-Union Scotland. It was a cabinet of paintings and sculpture for the intellectual elite of its day, and a haven of private family tranquillity.

Mavisbank House represents the shift from the prevailing Baroque style of the period to the Neo-Classical style and had a profound influence on Scottish architectural history. It inspired a new generation of country houses with symmetrical plans, curving wings and classical ornamentation.

Mavisbank continued to be owned by members of the Clerk family until 1814 and alterations to the House and Policies were undertaken in the early 19th Century.  In 1877 the House, with numerous additions and extensions, was used as a lunatic asylum.  The hospital closed in 1953 and was bought by its last medical superintendent, Dr Harrowes.

Mr Archie Stevenson subsequently bought Mavisbank in the late 1950s and it was gutted by fire in 1973.  After his death, ownership was uncertain and, sadly, it has remained derelict ever since.

Mavisbank is Scotland’s most important small country house: the primary example of the ‘villa’ built within commuting distance of a town or city