NEW LEITH OF LIFE
Homes & Interiors Scotland|May - June 2021
The average British garden prioritises the lawn over all else. Yes, there’ll be floral borders around the edges and the odd shrub or two.
Judy Diamond

There might even be a bit of decking or a few grey slabs for a patio. But that’s it. Such a model, not surprisingly, was never going to be an option for this house in Leith. For a start, this is no average house.

Tucked away down a tangle of narrow streets in Edinburgh’s historic port, amid converted warehouse flats, smart coffee shops and Michelin-starred restaurants, Lamb’s House is completely unique. The category A-listed building dates from around 1610 and is home to conservation architects Kristin Hannesdottir and Nick Groves-Raines. It was empty when they bought it in 2010 but had spent many years as offices and a community centre, among other uses, and bore little resemblance to its original incarnation. It took years of painstaking remedial work by the pair to restore it, but as they did so they also found time to make plans for the garden – such as it was. “It was actually just a really horrible unenclosed stretch of concrete,” admits Kristin.

They got rid of the concrete, brought in top soil and worked out a design. To give themselves some privacy, they built a wall, albeit one with a generous dip in it to allow passers-by to peek in. Walk past today, and what you’ll see is like a vision of the past: a Renaissance-style garden that might have looked familiar to the likes of Mary Queen of Scots (who is herself reputed to have stayed in an earlier house on this site on her arrival from France in 1561).

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