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Saving Mavisbank House

Our plan to rescue Mavisbank before it's too late.

A future for Mavisbank House

Landmark has applied to the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) for a grant to save one of the most important British buildings at risk from imminent collapse.

The NHMF exists as the funder of last resort to save the nation’s greatest treasures. Mavisbank, one of the nation’s most intractable conservation problems, will certainly be lost without their financial help. Landmark, with its long experience in rescuing buildings and providing them with a sustainable future, is now the only hope for Mavisbank’s survival.

An NHMF grant in the region of £5m would enable Landmark to pursue phase one of a fresh plan to give Mavisbank House a vibrant and sustainable future. This vital phase would see the crumbling building and pavilions stabilised before any more historic fabric falls away, enable up-to-date condition surveys and resolve the long-standing ownership and access issues.

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Community engagement aspirations

Landmark aspires to deliver high quality training opportunities for people from all backgrounds. We hope to run traditional craft skills taster days for local secondary schools, work experience and apprentice placements with our main contractors, and CPD webinars sharing the expertise being developed on our project with the wider industry.

For our local communities, we will offer family friendly volunteering opportunities, public hard hat tours, behind the scenes scaffold tours, and talks about the history and stories of the building and the people who have lived and worked there.

All activities will be listed here on our website, communicated via our mailing list and engagement social media channels.

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The history of Mavisbank House

Mavisbank was built from 1723-7. It was designed architect William Adam, and his client, Sir John Clerk of nearby Penicuik. Clerk absorbed European culture during his Grand Tour in the 1690s, and at Mavisbank he created his vision of a classical villa for civilised retreat to the countryside, situated within a beautiful valley that he gently landscaped. Clerk became a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment after the Union with England in 1707.

The Clerks of Penicuik sold Mavisbank on in 1811. In 1876 the house was bought by a group of pioneering Edinburgh doctors as a private asylum. Dr John Batty Tuke, the asylum’s director, modernised mental health practices by treating it as a medical (rather than a criminal) condition. Mavisbank patients participated in gardening therapies under its remarkable Head Gardener Mary E. Burton, self-educated and the first female professional gardener in Scotland.

The asylum closed in the 1950s and was sold again to a private owner, who used the site as a car breakers yard. A disastrous fire in 1973 was followed by abandonment. The building was left a roofless shell, saved from demolition in 1987 only thanks to public outcry.

Read more about Mavisbank's history  

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    Neglected for 50 years

    The ornate architecture of the building is still visible as it crumbles into further disrepair.

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    Derelict inside and out

    Remnants of the orginal interior can be seen, surrounded by overgrown foliage and crumbling walls.

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    Doors Open Day tour 2023

    A group from the local community on a guided tour of the site

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    A bird's eye view

    Pictured from above, the main mansion is adjoined to two smaller buildings.

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    Across the centuries

    The front exterior of Mavisbank pictured in the late 19th century.

Sky News Breakfast with Kay Burley

Our Director, Anna Keay, on how Mavisbank can be saved

Get in touch

Contact [email protected] with any questions