History of Bute House
In 1791 neoclassical architect Robert Adam was commissioned to design unified frontages for Charlotte Square.
Adam designed the northern side of the square as a monumental, 100-metre-long symmetrical palace façade, with No 6 – Bute House – at its centre.
Bute House was sold several times during the 19th century, including in 1825 to Charles Oman who turned it into Oman’s Hotel where the exiled Charles X of France stayed briefly in 1832. The fixings for the letters can still be seen above the entrance door today.
Sir Mitchell Mitchell-Thomson, 1st Baronet of Polmood, who became Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1897 to 1900, also owned the property in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
In 1922, John Crichton-Stuart, the 4th Marquess of Bute and a patron and supporter of the conservation movement, bought No.6, having already purchased the neighbouring properties, numbers 5 to 8, in order to begin restoring Adam’s original Georgian design that had been compromised by Victorian period alterations.
No. 6 was renamed ‘Bute House’ and leased to the Government as the official residence of the Secretary of State for Scotland – William Ross being the first occupant from May 1966 – and a Board of Trustees was appointed to manage the property.
The House was refurbished as a fit residence for the Secretary of State following a fundraising appeal organised by Eric Ivory, Vice-President of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).
Thereafter, the NTS became responsible for the decoration, furnishings and artwork, in consultation with the Bute House management committee. The role of the Bute House Trustees, to safeguard the current and future use of the House, continues today.