John Lessels

1809 - 1883

Architect. Born and educated in Kirkcaldy, Lessels father was the Clerk of Works on the Raith Estate. With the help of Robert Ferguson of Raith (1767 - 1840), he was able to train as an architect with William Burn (1789 - 1870) in Edinburgh. Burn put him in charge of the construction of Charleton House in Fife, and Lessels moved to Dawyck and Allanton in the Scottish Borders, managing other Burn projects. He settled in Edinburgh where he set up his own practice in 1846. In Edinburgh, he was responsible for the development of the Walker Estate (Western New Town), with much of Melville Crescent, Chester Street, Coates Place, West Maitland Street and Palmerston Place built to his designs. Around Scotland, he worked on Stobo Castle (1845-49), Milne Graden (1852), Kinross House (1854), George Watson's Hospital (1857) and the Smith Institute (1874). He became friendly with Thomas and William Nelson the publishers and worked on their homes Salisbury Green (1866) and St. Leonard's Hall (1867), together with their grand printing plant, Parkside Works on Dalkeith Road. He was also responsible for the ornamental pillars the Nelsons gifted to city at the east end of the Meadows. In 1866, Lessels was appointed joint architect to the City Improvement Trust to work alongside his friend David Cousin (1809-78).

He is buried in Dean Cemetery, where his grave is marked by an unusual monument.

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