William Burn

For other people named William Burn, see William Burn (disambiguation).
Edinburgh Academy
St Johns Princes Street Edinburgh
Ceiling of St Johns, Princes Street, Edinburgh
Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh., topped by Robert Forrest's statue of Viscount Melville
Funerary monument, Kensal Green Cemetery, London

William Burn, FRSE (20 December 1789 15 February 1870) was a Scottish architect, pioneer of the Scottish Baronial style. A talented architect, he received major commissions from the age of 20 until his death at 80, a remarkable 60 years of prominence.


He was born in Rose Street[1] in Edinburgh, the son of architect Robert Burn, and educated at the Royal High School.

After training with the architect of the British Museum, Sir Robert Smirke, he returned to Edinburgh in 1812. Here he established a practice from the family builders' yard. In 1841, he took on a pupil, David Bryce, with whom he later went into partnership. From 1844 he worked in London, where he took on his nephew John Macvicar Anderson as a partner.

In 1827 (unusually for an architect) he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, his proposer being James Skene. He resigned in 1845 following his move to London.

In the 1830s he was living and working at 131 George Street in the New Town.[2]

Burn was a true master of many styles, but all are typified by well-proportioned simplicity externally and frequent stunning interiors.

He died at 6 Stratton Street in Piccadilly, London[3] and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery just on the edge of the path to the north-west of the central buildings.

Trained under Burn[4]


Burn was a versatile architect who was happy to turn his hand to a variety of styles. He designed many Scottish churches, a castle and some important public buildings, including:

He also designed or remodelled as many as 600 country houses, including:

David Bryce went on to perfect the Scottish Baronial style of architecture.


  1. Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1789-1790
  2. http://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/pageturner.cfm?id=83399919&mode=transcription
  3. http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp1.pdf
  4. Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Burn
  5. Monuments and Statues of Edinburgh, Michael T.R.B. Turnbull
  6. Victorian Cliveden: history of house and gardens National Trust. Retrieved 2012-12-20.

External links

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