History Of The Building
In April 1750, having bought the tenement and garden which had existed on the site since 1707, Robert Reid, – a Haddington stonemason who had worked with General Wade building military roads and bridges in Scotland, – successfully petitioned the Dean of Guild Court to rebuild the property.
The extravagant little building which he designed is now home to Carlyle House Café.
It is an important 18th Century Classical building with rich Corinthian detailing on the exterior. Its north-facing façade has a flamboyant miniature palace frontage with ashlar masonry and raised quoin ends. The building was originally designed to house a shop on each side of the central pend which led to a close behind, where there was a stable and a garden. The gated archway which forms the entrance to the Café was an enclosed passageway leading from the front of the building right through to the yard behind.
On The Inside
The first floor, which provided residential accommodation, was accessed from a separate staircase to the rear of the building. On the north side, it contains one of the building’s most interesting and spectacular rooms, – a large room which looks across the High Street through five astragal windows, as well as looking down the High Street through a smaller window on the eastern elevation.
The east and west shops on the ground floor, and the upper floor were sold in 1797.
The stable to the rear was bought by a certain Hay Smith. It was probably he who pulled it down and built the new house in the garden behind what is now Carlyle House Cafe, and which was eventually to become the home of John Grace Welsh. The two houses, thereafter known as the fore-tenement and the rear-tenement, were linked by a building containing domestic offices. This building disappeared when Carlyle House was restored by East Lothian Council in 1962.
In 1802, both front and rear properties were bought by a Haddington writer, David Rochead, who sold the front building to Dr John Welsh, – Jane Baillie Welsh Carlyle’s father. In 1806, Dr Welsh bought the rear building and its surrounding garden. He then sold the front building but continued to use the east shop as his surgery.
The building passed through a number of different owners’ hands over the centuries, but was offered for sale by its last owners East Lothian Council, in 2010. The current owners converted it from offices and meeting rooms into the Café/Restaurant and Private Dining Room you see today.