Dundas House

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Dundas House
RBSG HQ, St Andrews Square, Edinburgh.jpg
Dundas House, Edinburgh
Location St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Scotland
Coordinates 55°57′17″N 3°11′27″W / 55.954623°N 3.190952°W / 55.954623; -3.190952Coordinates: 55°57′17″N 3°11′27″W / 55.954623°N 3.190952°W / 55.954623; -3.190952
Built 1771
Built for Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1st Baronet
Architect Sir William Chambers
Listed Building – Category A
Official name: 36 St Andrew Square, Dundas House, Royal Bank of Scotland Head Office
Designated 13 April 1965
Reference no. 29705
Dundas House is located in Edinburgh
Dundas House
Location within Edinburgh

Dundas House is located at 36 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the Registered Office of the Royal Bank of Scotland. It is protected as a category A listed building.[1]


The site was owned by Sir Lawrence Dundas of Kerse in the mid 18th century. When the town council made plans for a New Town drawn up by James Craig in 1775, the site of Dundas House was shown as a proposed church, St. Andrews (hence St. Andrews Square), acting as a counterpart to St. George's Church on what became Charlotte Square (originally to be called George Square but another scheme took that name first). The two were separated by the New Town itself laid out on a formal grid centred on George Street, along which the two churches were to face each other.

Lord Dundas saw the layout and decided the church site would make a good site for a prestigious mansion, and retained the feu within the overall plan. Works began in 1772, prior to the council's formal adoption of the New Town plan, which then required minor adaption to accommodate this change. The proposed St Andrew's Church was subsequently built at a less prominent site at 13 George Street.

The house was built of robust pale grey sandstone from Ravelston Quarry around three miles to the west. It was designed by Sir William Chambers, a prominent architect of the day. It was completed in 1774. It was modelled on Marble Hill House in Twickenham.

In 1780 Hugo Arnot described the building as "incomparably the handsomest townhouse we ever saw".

Commercial use[edit]

Lord Dundas died in 1781 and his son inherited the house. Having no great desire to live here (then the site was in the midst of a huge building site as the New Town construction began) he sold the house to the government and it then became a Customs House. At this stage it gained the royal coat of arms in its pediment. Most of the original interior was lost in this conversion. One front room at first floor on the north side remains intact.

Dundas House was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1825. The interior was radically altered over the next 3 years, including the building of the notable domed banking hall with star-shaped windows in the ceiling, which was added by the architect John Dick Peddie in 1857.

In 1972 the 19th century banking screens and counters were removed and replaced by white marble counters.

The dome[edit]

The starry domed ceiling over the banking hall in Dundas House

The magnificent banking hall is covered by a large circular blue dome, added by Peddie. The dome is pierced by star-shaped gold-rimmed coffered skylights radiating out from the central oculus which diminish in size towards the centre, representing the firmament.[2]

An illustration of the star pattern featured on Royal Bank of Scotland's "Islay" series of banknotes which were in circulation 1987–2016.[3][4][5]

Future use[edit]

In plans unveiled by the International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust Scotland (IMPACT Scotland) in 2017, Dundas House is to be incorporated into a new concert hall called the Impact Centre which will be built behind the existing house.[6]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "36 St Andrew Square, Dundas House, Royal Bank of Scotland Head Office, With Associated Additions, Walls, Gatepiers, Gates, Railings And Lamp Standards: LB29705". Historic Environment Scotland. 
  2. ^ Gifford, John; McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David; Wilson, Christopher (1991). The buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Yale University Press. pp. 325–6. ISBN 0300096720. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  3. ^ "Edinburgh Photo Library - Royal Bank of Scotland HQ". www.rampantscotland.com. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  4. ^ "RBS plan to share historic Edinburgh HQ". The Scotsman. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  5. ^ "Our Banknotes – The Ilay Series". The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. 2008. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  6. ^ David Chipperfield Architects (15 March 2018). "The IMPACT Centre" (PDF). Impact Scotland. Retrieved 15 March 2018.