The Moray Feu handbook has been put together to enable people to enjoy and get the most out of our communal space.

Welcome to the Moray Feu, 

Looking out of your window and it’s more than likely that you see greenery. There are long views over Bank Garden out to the Kingdom of Fife, or, looking through the trees in the gardens fronting Randolph, Ainslie and Moray, past elegant Georgian architecture to the Castle. 

Living in the Moray Feu lets you enjoy this tranquil but inner city location. The photos below show the natural  atmosphere of the Bank Garden, with its tree-lined walkways, woodland planting and beehives.  But the Bank Garden has something quite unique.  Running along the back of the houses is a footpath, halfway along modest stone arches start to support the path, these soon give way to grand arches as you near Dean Bridge and the walker finds themselves elevated into the canopy of the trees reaching up from below.  This might just entice you to add the Bank Garden to your membership. 

Page two has an informal information capsule, ‘Basics at a Glance’, answering frequently asked questions. More detailed information is contained within the handbook.

To help make it easy to know if the information is applicable to yourself, we have popped ‘Feuar, Resident, Outside Subscriber’ in green beside each heading in the handbook.

Social media and website are your chief way to access information and stay informed, whether you’re on the go or relaxing at home. Page four offers links to all our outlets. There, we also have a list of annual LMF social events held, along with the somewhat more sober AGM. Keep an eye on our Facebook group for details about other events.

Remember school days, when endless rules governed daily life? You can relax, for our management committee made up of fellow Feuars have kept these to a comfortable level to help all users enjoy the gardens safely and securely, flip to page seven for full details. 

Our top tip is to keep this handbook at your fingertips. It’s full of helpful information. For example, page five explains what to do if you need an extra garden key. Planning a garden party? Visit page nine.

From climbing frames, and garden chairs, to the protocol when walking dogs (page seven), all the information you need to enjoy our four gardens is here in the handbook. Oh, and we explain how fees are calculated, too. 

We’re sure that time spent in the gardens, perhaps reading the history of the Moray Feu (page 17), is the perfect tonic for the stress of modern life. 

With warm regards
Garden Management Committee. 
September 2021

Basics at a Glance |Feuars, Residents, Outside Subscribers

What Am I?

A Moray Feuar owns property within the Moray Feu.  They share the responsibility to maintain and pay for the joint gardens as obliged in their burdens.  Only Feuars can attend or vote at the Annual General Meetings and only Feuars can serve on the Gardens Management Committee.

A Moray Resident rents or live in grace-&-favour within the Moray Feu.  Residents don’t have responsibility to support the gardens.  As a result, they don’t have a right to join the committee or vote on garden issues or attend AGM, EGM or any meeting for Feuars. The Committee sadly does not have a formal connection to residents, only with the landlord as a Feuar.

A Outside Subscriber lives outside the Moray Feu but pays a yearly subscription to access the gardens.  This service was withdrawn at the 2021 AGM.  Although closed to new applicants, existing Outside Members are invited to maintain their memberships till they wish to stop.

Gardens Management Committee

‘Lord Moray’s Feu Pleasure Grounds Committee of Management’ is the full name but we are known as the ‘Garden Management Committee’(GMC) The committee’s remit is to manage the gardens.  It is not the Residents Association.  Because of this, it can’t make public representation or handle non garden issues such as giving advice on building and planning consent.  The residents association can be joined for an annual fee of just £10. https://www.mfnra.co.uk

Randolph Crescent Garden

Randolph Crescent (RC) is part of the Moray Feu, but Randolph Garden (RG) is not.  The land was not feued.  Instead, Lord Moray sold it much later, in 1867.  An agreement with GMC to manage RG was reached, which allowed all the Feu to have access.  RG is funded by a second fee to RC and a number of properties in Great Stuart Street. It has a small management committee and can be contacted at randolph@morayfeu,.com.

Back to Front

All properties have access to and responsibility for Moray (pronounced Murray) and Ainslie Gardens, these are known as Front Gardens.  Properties on the northside of the Feu also have access and responsibility for the Bank Garden, known as Back Gardens.  Southside properties can opt in to the back gardens.  Simply contact Whitelaw Wells.

No commercial use. 

Commercial use of the gardens is prohibited; this condition is clearly detailed in your property deeds. 


Dogs are welcomed in the gardens, once they have been registered and have their green tag visible when in any garden.  Dog poo bags and bins can be found in each garden for your convenience. Only these dogs can access the gardens; visiting dogs are not permitted in the gardens. All dog owners must sign a registration form agreeing to comply with the dog code. https://morayfeu.com/members/dog-registration/


LMF Secretary & Treasurer (Mr Kevin Cattanach)
Whitelaw Wells 
9 Ainsley Place 
Edinburgh EH3 6AT

See committee (page 16) for email address

Telephone: 0131 226 5822
Email: info@morayfeu.com

DIGITAL |Feuars, Residents, Outside Subscribers

Website: www.morayfeu.com

Facebook Closed Group: Feaurs and Residents are invited to join our Closed Group Facebook page. This enables easy and regular communication, conversations and news updates (in addition to the twice-yearly printed or e mailed newsletters), whilst remaining private from anyone outside the Feu.


Instagram: Follow our Instagram page for regular photos of the Feu’s gardens and architecture as we build a photographic library.  From seasonal change to developments in the gardens or simply to remind yourself of parts of the Feu perhaps you haven’t been to for a long time.


Social events are now the responsibility of the Residents Association. The gardens hosts an annual open gardens day.

Newsletters are issued twice a year to all feuars. The latest editions can be viewed on the website.

KEYS |Feuars, Residents by arrangement, Outside Subscribers
Keys are for the use of Feuars and Outside Subscribers who have paid their annual assessment only and should not be handed out to other parties. The same key also fits the shed lock in the central roundel containing the croquet set, and tables and chairs.

RECREATIONAL EQUIPMENT |Feuars, Residents, Outside Subscribers  
Moray Gardens has a fixed climbing frame for the use of children aged 5-13 and swings for children up to the age of 5 on a soft play bark surface. There is also a built-in barbeque, tables and chairs in the shed and a croquet set.  If Feuars whose children use the play equipment become aware of any damage or other issue pertaining to the equipment they should let Sandra Thomson of Whitelaw Wells know as a matter of urgency in order that it can be addressed.

ASSESSMENTS |Feuars only
Assessments for gardens’ maintenance are sent out after the annual meeting and cover the year to the following 31st March. They are based on the rateable value of each property as of 31st March 1989. The annual pence-per-pound rate (inclusive of VAT at 20%) is approved each year by the Feuars at the AGM, and the assessments are collected 30 days from the issue date by direct debit. Randolph Crescent residents/ owners pay an additional assessment fee set each year by the Randolph Gardens Committee AGM for maintenance of Randolph Crescent garden.

RECORDS |Feuars, Letting Agents
Maintaining up-to-date records of current proprietors is difficult but important. When you sell your property, please remind your solicitor to advise the secretaries of the name of the new owner, and to apportion the assessment.

DEDICATIONS & MEMORIALS |Feuars, Residents, Outside Subscribers

We welcome dedications in the form of donations to planting in general, but not in the form of individual trees or shrubs.  Donations will be acknowledged in communications such as our newsletter and on our website.

GARDENS |Feuars, Residents, Outside Subscribers

The four gardens of Randolph Crescent, Ainslie Place, Moray Place, and the Bank are unique islands of tranquillity in Edinburgh’s otherwise traffic-busy West End. They are maintained with care and devotion for the enjoyment of feuars, their families, guests, and tenants.

From the woodland feel of the Bank Gardens, alive with the sound of the Water-of-Leith, to the striped lawns and flower beds of Moray, the Georgian, elegant openness of Ainslie, or the elevated lawns of Randolph, where you can watch the world pass by, each of our four gardens boasts unique charms.

Garden Rules |Feuars, Residents and Outside Subscribers

The pleasure grounds of the Moray Feu are the common property of the Feuars and are available for the enjoyment of all of the Feuars who have paid their assessments.  In order to preserve and maintain the environment and beauty of the pleasure grounds and their enjoyment by the Feuars it is essential that those entering and using the gardens do so with due respect and consideration both for fellow Feuars and the gardens.

The following rules have been agreed upon for users of the gardens.

Keys should not be handed out to third parties. The gardens are for the use of Feuars, their families, guests, residents, and outside subscribers only.

The gates must be securely closed immediately after entering or exiting the gardens as leaving them open will compromise the security of the gardens and allow small children or dogs to run out onto the road.

Care of Gardens
All users of the gardens, including dogs, must take care not to injure the plants and must not enter into the flower beds or shrubberies at any time.

Code of Conduct for Dogs
Only dogs registered with the Secretaries and wearing their specially issued tags are allowed in the gardens.  Dogs are only permitted in the gardens in the charge of the owner or their appointee who must be able to exercise effective control of the dog at all times. https://morayfeu.com/members/dog-registration/

Ball Games
Except for croquet, only ball games played by children are allowed, and only on condition that a soft ball (not rugby or football) is used so that no damage is caused, and that enjoyment of the gardens by others is not disturbed.

Small bicycles are allowed, but only on the paths. No cycling on full-sized bicycles is permitted.

No fireworks may be set off in any of the gardens.

Two built-in barbecues (Moray Gardens) are available to use, a booking sheet can be found on the noticeboard.  No portable or disposable barbecues are permitted.  All litter, particularly food, should be carefully gathered up and removed from the gardens.

Private Functions |Feuars and Residents

Yearly Garden Assessments must be paid, before applications can be approved

Feuars and outside subscribers wishing to hold a private function involving 20 or more people must first obtain the consent of the garden’s committee in accordance with the Private Function Policy.  Application forms, which must be submitted to Whitelaw Wells not less than two weeks in advance of the event, can be found on the website.

  1.   All private events for 20 or more people require application to and approval from the Gardens Management Committee.
  2.   Applications for a private event must be made not less than 14 days in advance of the event.
  3.   Applicants understand that the gardens are available to other users at all times.
  4.   Events organised on behalf of the Feuars by the Gardens Management Committee take precedence over all other events.
  5.   Only one private event is permitted in each garden at any one time.
  6.   Private events are not permitted in the Bank Garden at any time as it is not suitable for such purposes.
  7.   Only Feuars who are current in their assessment payments are permitted to hold private functions in the gardens.
  8.   The Feuar named on the application will personally be in attendance throughout the function, ensuring their guests leave the garden at its conclusion.
  9.   Garden gates will be kept closed and locked at all times.  Access by guests must be supervised throughout the function.
  10.   No bouncy castles, other inflatables or large play equipment are permitted.
  11.   Amplified music is not allowed at any time; other music must stop at 11PM.
  12.   Guests’ taxis are to be ordered from the door of the Feuar organising the function.
  13.   All litter, glass, debris and any other items must be removed from the gardens immediately following the event.
  14.   No fuel, other than to be used in the fixed barbeque, will be brought into the gardens; portable barbecues are not permitted.
  15.   No generators will be used at private functions without specific prior consent in writing of the Gardens Management Committee.
  16.   The barbecues in the Moray Place Garden must be reserved separately, if their use is desired for a private event. The Feuar organising the private function must first check on the reservation sheet posted in the garden notice board to ensure that the barbecue has not been booked for the desired event date on the sheet in the gardens.  If barbecues are to be reserved, this must be done prior to submitting an application to hold a private event.

In applying to hold a private even people must accept personal responsibility for any damage caused to the garden or any part thereof and undertake to pay on demand the cost of making good such damage as determined by the Gardens Management Committee.

Awning Use
You may hire the awning in Moray Place Garden at a charge for feuars of £100. Book via Whitelaw Wells. The gardeners will erect and dismantle it. Please contact John Hughes, the Head Gardener, telephone number 07979 763711, during working hours, to discuss the three possible locations. Payment should be made on booking approval. Please make cheques payable to: Lord Moray’s Feuars.

We have agreement for our locally based Nurseries to allow their children to be in the gardens between the following times:

  • 10.00 am – 12.00 noon
  • 2.15 pm – 3.15 pm

Garden Team
Two full-time gardeners, John Hughes and Melvyn Clench, are employed by the Garden Management Committee on behalf of the Feuars and are given directions by and report to the garden’s convenor. Please respect the gardener’s time and profession, they are not employed to police the gardens; direct concerns or complaints to the committee.  Outside contractors, such as a tree surgeons, are engaged when required.


Yearly Garden Assessments must be paid, before applications can be approved

Access by Tradesperson to the Bank Gardens

Access for tradesperson through the Bank Gardens is only permitted with the prior consent of the Garden’s Committee and in accordance with the Policy on Tradesperson Access to the Bank Gardens. Access must not be taken unless and until approval is given.  Application forms, which must be submitted to Whitelaw Wells not less than two weeks in advance of access being required, can be found on the website either to download and post or complete online and email. 

Feuars are responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules by those accompanying them, by their own children and dogs and by their tenants, and shall be bound to make good any damage done.

Policy On Tradesperson’s Access To The Bank Gardens |Feuars only

Applications for tradespeople’s access to deliver materials to the rear of properties backing onto the Bank Gardens must first be approved in writing by the Gardens Management Committee. 

Applications must be made in the prescribed form not less than two weeks prior to access being first required. For complicated and protracted project, we kindly request a commensurate period of notice.

Applications may be submitted only by Feuars whose properties adjoin the Bank Gardens and whose assessments are currently paid.

Conditions of Access:

  1. The use of the gardens by tradespeople taking access through the gardens must not interfere with the use and enjoyment of the gardens by Feuars at any time
  2. It will be the responsibility of the Feuar granted such access to ensure all tradesmen using the access understand the.
  3. The access gate at Doune Terrace must not be left open. When opened, it must be supervised.
  4. Mechanical equipment is not to be used in the gardens at any time.
  5. Access will be permitted to deliver materials only to the rear of properties with an access to the Bank Garden. Access is not permitted for tradespeople to access a worksite daily or regularly from the Bank Garden.
  6. Applicants must provide specific details of which items of equipment and quantities of materials to be brought through gardens..
  7. No plant, equipment or materials will be left unsupervised anywhere in the gardens at any time.
  8. Portable toilets must not be placed in the gardens or in the vicinity of the access at Doune Terrace. Any Feuar requiring a portable toilet for their tradespeople must ensure it is located as near as practical to the front of their property.
  9. Access will not be permitted through the Bank Gardens for removal of down-takings, debris or spoil. For the avoidance of doubt: contractors’ skips must not be placed within the gardens or in the vicinity of the Doune Terrace access. Feuars requiring a skip for down-takings, debris, spoil or the like must ensure it is located as near as practical to the front of their property.
  10. Feuars granted access through the gardens for tradespeople will be personally responsible for any damage occasioned to the gardens or any part thereof and the fittings and fixtures therein and will be liable to meet the cost of making good such damage as determined by the Committee of Management.
  11. Any Feuar granted access must confirm that their buildings insurance policy duly covers them and their tradespeople employed by them for public liability and for any damage occasioned to the gardens and will inform their insurers of the works being undertaken.
  12. Feuars granted access will fully indemnify the proprietors of the Bank Gardens and the Committee of Management for any liability whatsoever and howsoever arising out of the exercise of access granted through the gardens.
  13. Any breach of the foregoing rules will result in the withdrawal of consent for access.


Gardens Management Committee-Functions (Lord Moray’s Feu Pleasure Grounds Committee of Management)

Gardens Management Committee-Functions: At the 1997 AGM Feuars agreed that a Committee member could serve for a maximum of three terms of three years, and that there should be a maximum of 11 members, including the chairperson.

In addition to the 11 members, the Management Committee can co-opt Feuars onto the committee or a sub-committee if particular expertise is required.  Co-opted members should stand for election at the following AGM if they wish to continue on the committee or a sub-committee.

The rules also required that the Management Committee submit proposals for major extraordinary expenditure to a general meeting.

Rules for Membership of Committee of the Moray Feu Pleasure Grounds |Feuars only

Members of Committee: The Committee of Management of the Pleasure Grounds (“the Committee”) shall consist of a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 11 elected members.

Chairperson: The Committee shall elect a chairperson (“the chair”) who shall serve for a maximum period of 5 years.

Election of Members: The Members of the Committee shall be elected at an annual general meeting.  Members so elected shall serve for a period of 3 years following which they will be eligible to be re-elected provided always that the chair shall not fall to be re-elected during his / her term of office.  No members shall serve for a period in excess of 9 years other than the chair who will not be required to demit office until completion of his / her term as chair. 

Nominations of Members: Nominations for re-elections and elections shall be made in writing to the Secretaries not more than 28 days and not less than 14 clear days before the date of the AGM at which the election is to take place.  Nominees must be Feuars (or a nominated representative of Feuars) and must be nominated and seconded by two Feuars.  Only one nominee, one proposer and one seconder permitted for each separately eligible property.  Nominees should set out their particular interest in the management of the Pleasure Grounds and of the particular attributes which they can bring to the Committee. Download nomination form from website or request from Whitelaw Wells.

Co-option of Members: The Committee shall have power to (a) co-opt a member to replace any member who demits office during the year and (b) to co-opt an individual who has particular expertise which the Committee considers will be of assistance in the performance of its functions.  Such co-opted individuals may serve until the next following annual general meeting. 

Committee of Management Meetings: The members of the Committee shall meet together regularly throughout the year to address the management of the Pleasure Grounds and may adjourn and otherwise regulate their meetings as they see fit.  Five members shall constitute a quorum at any such properly convened meeting.  Questions arising at any meetings shall be determined by a simple majority of votes.  Co-opted members will not have a vote.  In case of equality of votes the chair shall have a second or casting vote.

Attendance of Meetings: It is acknowledged that the members may be unable to attend every Committee meeting but there is a  minimum attendance that is reasonably expected. Termination of membership of the committee may be considered if a member is absent, without a good reason in the opinion of the Committee, for more than three consecutive meetings, but only if the Committee of Management resolves to remove them.

Notice of Committee Meetings: Notice of Committee meetings shall be given to all serving members and shall be deemed to be duly given if given to him / her personally or by word of mouth or sent in writing by letter or by electronic communication.

A properly convened meeting at which a quorum is present shall be competent to exercise all or any of the authority, powers and discretions of the Committee.

Resolution in Writing: A resolution in writing signed by all of the members entitled to receive notice of a meeting shall be as effective for all purposes as a resolution of the members passed at a meeting duly convened and held and may consist of several documents which may be on either paper or in electronic format and in similar form, each signed by one or more members.

Convenors and Committees: Each Committee member will be appointed as a convener with specific responsibilities.  The Committee may delegate any of its powers to committees consisting of such member or members of the body as they see fit.

Exercise of Responsibilities: All conveners and committees shall in the exercise of the powers delegated to them conform to any mode of proceedings and regulations which may be prescribed by the Committee. 

Minutes of Proceedings: The Committee shall cause minutes to be made of the following matters, namely:-

  • of all appointments of conveners and of committees made;
  • of the names of members present at every meeting of the Committee and all business transacted at such meetings;
  • and of all orders, resolutions and proceedings of all meetings of the Committee.

Any such minute purporting to be signed by the chair of the meeting at which the proceedings were held or by the chair of the next succeeding meeting shall be prima facie evidence of the matter stated in such minutes without any further proof.

Defective Appointment of Members not to Invalidate the Acts: All acts done by a meeting of the Committee or by any person acting as a member shall notwithstanding that it be afterwards discovered that there was some defect in the appointment of any person or persons acting as aforesaid or that they or any of them were or was disqualified from holding office or not entitled to vote be as valid as if every such person had been duly appointed, duly qualified and had continued to be a member.

Sub-Committees: Sub-committees are set up as and when the committee considers it appropriate. Sub-committees currently in existence are Traffic and Gardens. Feuars may be invited by the main committee to join a sub-committee for their particular expertise.

Meetings of the Feuars |Feuars only

Annual General Meeting AGM

The Committee shall convene an Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) each year, if practical in June, at such time and place as may be determined by the Committee

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is usually held in June each year.  Notification of the date, time and place of the AGM together with the agenda, the Committee’s Report and the Accounts for the preceding financial year ended 31 March will be issued to Feuars not less than 21 days prior to the meeting. 

Whitelaw Wells hold the Minutes of Annual General Meetings, which are available for inspection on request.  Personal or sensitive information will be redacted from minutes made available for inspection.

General Meetings of the Feuars: All meetings of the Feuars other than the AGM shall be called an Extraordinary General Meeting (“EGM”).

When EGM to be called: The Committee may convene an EGM at any time.  Any 50 Feuars shall be entitled to require the Committee to call an EGM.  Such requisition shall be made by written notice by them to include their names, signatures and addresses and delivered to the Secretary specifying the resolution or resolutions proposed to be put to the meeting.  Only one signatory per eligible property may validly sign such requisition.

Notice of Meetings: The AGM and any EGM shall be called by not less than 21 days’ notice in writing.  The notice shall be exclusive of the day on which it is served or deemed to be served and of the day of which the meeting shall specify the place, the day and purpose of meeting and in case of special business the general nature of such business.  The notice shall be given to all of the Feuars.

Omission to Send Notice: The accidental omission to send notice to or the non-receipt of any notice by any Feuar shall not invalidate the proceedings at any general meeting.

Proxy: A Feuar entitled to attend and to vote at any meeting may appoint a proxy to attend and, on a poll, vote in his / her place.  A proxy is not entitled to speak at any such meeting and need not be a Feuar.  A Feuar appointing a proxy must do so in writing to be lodged with the secretaries not less than 48 hours before the start of the meeting.

Business of an Annual General Meeting: The Business of an AGM shall be to receive and consider the accounts, balance sheet and reports from the Management Committee, to re-elect any members who has completed three years’ service, to elect members in place of those retiring, and to consider any extraordinary expenditure proposed to be incurred.

Proposal of Resolution: Any Feuar may propose a resolution for consideration at the AGM by giving notice to the Secretaries not less than 14 days before the date of the meeting.

Notice of Candidates and Resolutions: A list of candidates, if any, for re-election or election as members of the Committee, plus any resolutions proposed shall be displayed on the notice board at Moray Place Gardens seven days prior to the date of the meeting.

Quorum: The Quorum for a general meeting shall be 10 or more Feuars present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote.

How Questions to be Decided at a Meeting: At any general meeting a resolution put to the vote of the meeting shall be decided by a show of hands unless (before, or upon the declaration of the result of, the show of hands) a poll be duly demanded by the chair or by a member or members present in person or by proxy representing not less than one tenth of the Feuars in attendance at the Meeting and unless a poll be so demanded a declaration by the chair that the resolution has been carried or lost and an entry to that effect in the book containing the minutes of proceedings of the AGM shall be conclusive evidence of the fact without proof of the number or proportion of the votes recorded in favour or against such resolution.

Votes of Feuars: Persons entitled to vote at general meetings shall be Feuars or their authorised representatives. 

Joint Owners: If two or more persons are joint proprietors of an eligible property having a right to vote, any one of such persons may vote at any meeting, either personally or by proxy as if he / she were solely entitled thereto and if more than one of such joint holders be present at any meeting either personally or by proxy the Feuar whose name stands first on the Register of Feuars as one of the proprietors of such property, and no other, shall be entitled to vote in respect of the same.

Committee Members

Details of current committee members and relevant contact details can be found in the governance section of this web site. https://morayfeu.com/management-committee/committee-members/

Secretaries and Treasurers
Whitelaw Wells, 9 Ainslie Place,
Edinburgh EH3 6AT

Sandra Thomson, WW, General enquiries

Kevin Cattanach, WW, Secretary

History of Lord Moray’s Feu

FOUR elegant resident’s gardens grace Edinburgh’s West New Town.  Beginning life as part of a much larger garden belonging to Francis Stuart, 10th Earl of Moray’s Estate of Drumsheugh. This originally included a mansion house, policies and parks bounded by Randolph Cliff, Randolph Lane, Glenfinlas Street, Saint Colme Street, Gloucester Lane, Doune Terrace, and a mill lade along the south side of the Water of Leith.

By the early 19th century, when the estate was being defined on three sides by new buildings, Francis decided to take control and Feu his estate.  Demolishing Drumsheugh House itself, on the south-east of what is now Randolph Crescent, and opening the whole area for houses to sell. His architect, James Gillespie Graham, produced a grand layout plan for proposed houses, flats and streets (named after the Moray family), private gardens and three communal gardens, with the exception of Randolph Garden, which  had planned to build his own home on the plot.  By 1867 he still hadn’t built and the land had lay in a neglected state to the dismay of Randolph Crescent Feuars.  Francis’ plans had changed and he moved into 28 Moray Place, selling the plot to Randolph Crescent Feuars only, to have as a pleasure ground of lawns and trees.  The oddity of ownership excluded it from being part of the Feu, but, it is not alone.  Property on the southside of the Feu are not included in the Bank garden (although they are now invited to join) and the purpose built flats (corner properties) were excluded from all the gardens, thankfully this is no longer the situation.

Today these classical shapes remain almost exactly as they were built, though some older facilities have passed with time. Stables, and Cabmen’s shelters built in Randolph Gardens for instance, came along with the 152 stances for homes being sold for an annual feu duty. Each street carried a fixed rate, from 16 to 21 shillings a foot (and 5 shillings a foot for stables). So, the average annual feu duty payable to Francis was about £30. The cost of building one such house was between £2000 and £3000.

Until the Dean Bridge was completed in 1832, the stone to build the handsome Georgian houses had to be carted over the Water of Leith at the Dean Village, and heaved up Bell’s Brae.

A dozen stances were bought at a “roup” (auction) in August 1822, and by 1827 over half had sold. Though sales then slowed, and there were gaps until about 1858, the New Town’s spirit of aesthetic development eventually took strong root here, not least in the presentation of the gardens—Moray Place, Ainslie Place, Randolph Crescent* and the Bank—with feuars being happily obliged “to lay them down in shrubbery and walks, as shown by the plan.”

At first, the only tree was a single existing willow, and the new planting consisted solely of shrubs. Growth was the name of the game.

While Graham’s plan for Moray Place Garden (3.48 acres) might have impressed many, some feuars remained unconvinced. One was James Hope WS, who in 1832 offered “suggestions” for its improvement along with regrets “that more attention had not been bestowed in laying out the pleasure ground …it is conceived that it may be very considerably improved, not only in appearance, but also in utility.”

The gist of their scheme was to plant trees “here and there,” and to level the whole garden, “the advantages of which will doubtless be supported by all the younger inhabitants, and by such of the elder as have not forgot the pleasures of level play-ground.”

Points noted, and today its many trees, shrubs and level grass areas complement each other beautifully, while being woven through with interconnecting paths.

The existing connecting paths within and around the interior perimeter of Ainslie Place Garden represent a pleasing adjustment of the original plan, which showed a circular path in the centre and an oblong path near the outside. Randolph Crescent Garden, a stone’s throw away to the west, is unique among the group, standing high above the traffic that streams around it, while maintaining the others’ high standards. 

Was the garden designed and built as a mound, or was the mound there first, possibly as a result of soil being dumped when the houses’ foundations were dug out? That was the intriguing question asked in 1958, at a public enquiry into an Edinburgh Corporation proposal to convert the garden into a roundabout. The scheme was dropped in the face of the feuars’ unanimous resistance, but the question was never answered. Nevertheless, that garden has had a colourful history, notably when a large air raid shelter was built in its centre—further raising its profile, as it were—and all the gardens’ railings were removed by the Ministry of Supply for the war effort.

Moray Place Garden, was not exempt from playing its part in the war effort, though the present holly hedge was planted round its perimeter to make up for the railings’ absence. After the war, new railings were designed. Until they were completed, wardens were employed to patrol the gardens.

Today, the architecture with its comfortable grandeur encircling (it’s shape is a duodecagon)  mature gardens brings international admiration, whose visitors post Instagram shots  in between sneaking peeks through windows into rooms as they pass by. 

The Bank Garden (4.1 acres) with its rugged 45-degree angles and well-wooded areas tumbling down to the Water of Leith, beehives and pickable herb garden is nearer to nature than the others. Though it got off to a shaky start—and was closed

for much of its first 15 years after a landslip behind Ainslie Place in June 1825—its ground was stabilised by a picturesque row of 27 arches, with a walkway created above.

Although all four gardens are managed by one management committee (Randolph Garden also benefits from a Consultative Group who works with the Garden Committee), and looked after by the same skilled gardeners, each has its own special qualities. These add immeasurably to Edinburgh’s unique offering of city-centre tranquillity.

Updated September 2021