Importance of Site
A site included in the Inventory is assessed for its condition and integrity and for its level of importance. The criteria used are set out in Annex 5 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (December 2011). The principles are represented by the following value-based criteria and we have assigned a value for each on a scale ranging from outstanding value to no value. Criteria not applicable to a particular site have been omitted. All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance.
Work of Art
Blair Drummond has high value as a Work of Art today, the fine detail of Lord Kames' design having been lost over the years.
Blair Drummond has high Historical value due to its associations with Lord Kames and to the numerous 19th century accounts of the policies.
Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural
Blair Drummond continues today to have high Horticultural/Arboricultural interest, given the presence of the remaining trees, although accounts of the 19th century suggest that it then had outstanding value.
Blair Drummond has outstanding Architectural value as it provides the setting for many features of architectural interest.
The woodlands and parklands of Blair Drummond are of high Scenic value when seen from the A84(T) road.
The remaining 18th century trees and the lake provide some Nature Conservation interest.
- Not Assessed
Location and Setting
Blair Drummond is situated on the south bank of the River Teith, some 6 miles (9.5km) north-west of Stirling. The A84(T) forms the western and southern boundaries of the policies. The house stands on a high point above the river valley across which the parklands extend.
The land rises to the north to the Braes of Doune and to the south to the Touch, Gargunnock and Fintry Hills, which provide some shelter. To the west lies the broad valley of the River Forth which joins the River Teith some 3 miles (5km) downstream from Blair Drummond; the valley is flat carseland and now largely farmed. The town of Doune lies to the north of Blair Drummond on the east bank of the river.
Magnificent views are gained to the surrounding hills as far as Ben Lomond, Ben Venue and Ben Ledi. To the south-east, views extend to Stirling Castle and the Forth Valley beyond. The woodlands of Blair Drummond are significant from the A84(T) and the area of High Daira, mostly parkland in permanent pasture but partly wooded, is particularly significant as a backdrop to Doune Castle.
Blair Drummond House is situated on high ground above the flat river valley amid some 902 acres (365ha) of designed landscape which extends north to the Bridge of Teith, south and west to the A84(T) and east to the access road linking to the A84(T). The original house lay to the south-east of the present house at a lower level in the park. Reference to General Roy's map of c.1750 indicates that the designed landscape associated with this original house was smaller and, with improvements made in the late 18th century, the policies were expanded to the north as shown on the 1st edition OS map of c.1860. The extent of the designed landscape does not appear to have been affected by the demolition of the original house and construction of the present one in 1870 as indicated by reference to the 2nd edition OS map of c.1900.
The present designed landscape at Blair Drummond was laid out between 1766-1782 to the design of Lord Kames which incorporated the formal landscape laid out after the construction of the original house between 1715-17.
The earliest known owner of the present lands of Blair Drummond were the Muchet family from whom the property was acquired by the Drummond family in the 14th century. A descendant of this family, the 4th Earl of Perth, sold the lands of Drip and Cambusdrennie in 1684 to George Drummond, 6th Laird of Blair. He gradually amassed other lands but those on which the original Blair House stood were not purchased from the Earl of Perth until 1714 when his estate was designated the Barony of Blair Drummond. Alexander McGill was commissioned to prepare plans for a house in 1715 but work was held up by the political disturbances of that year and the building was not completed until 1717. General Roy's map of 1750 shows the formal landscape which was laid out soon after 1717.
Agatha Drummond, granddaughter of the 1st laird, inherited the estate in 1766 and her husband Henry, Lord Kames, informalised the landscape between then and his death in 1782. He is particularly noted for helping to introduce the 'natural style' of landscaping to Scotland and wrote the 'Elements of Criticism' in 1762. He was a great land improver and drained the 1800 acre Moss of Kincardine of which 1500 acres lay in the Blair Drummond estate. His son, George Home Drummond carried out his father's plans between 1787-1839 and transformed the area into good agricultural land.
In c.1868 plans to extend the three-storey classical house were prepared for Sir George Stirling Home Drummond but these were rejected in favour of plans for a new house prepared by J.C. Walker of Edinburgh. A new site was chosen on higher ground nearby to the north-west and, on its completion in 1872, the original house was demolished.
On the death of Lt Colonel Henry Edward Stirling Home Drummond, the estate was put up for sale in 1912 and was purchased by the uncle of the present owner, Sir John Muir. The estate has continued to be run commercially and part of the parkland to the south-east of the house is run as a Safari Park, owned by the Muir family. In 1975, the house and 17 acres of grounds were sold to the Camphill Trust as a Residential Home. Sir John and Lady Muir have retained the remainder of the estate and now live at Bankhead House, to the west of the Blair Drummond policies.
Blair Drummond House, listed category B, is a three-storey Baronial-style mansion with basement built between 1868-72 to the design of J.C. Walker. A fire in 1922 caused considerable damage which was later repaired. The terraced gardens adjacent to the house are included in the listing. The stables, listed category B, are E-plan; the south court of c.1835 and the north court of c.1871 are also to the design of J.C. Walker. The cottage, situated to the south of the stables dates from 1839-40 and is listed category C(S). A storehouse to the south-west of the stables dates from c.1800 and is listed category C. The Ice House north of the house dates from the early 19th century and is listed category B. A fountainhead situated to the west of the terraced garden dates from the 18th century and is listed category B.
The Tudor North Bridge, dated 1859, is listed B and stands on the A84(T) near to Bridge of Teith. The West Lodge dates from c.1830 and is listed category C(S). The East Lodge, listed category B, dates from c.1800 and was enlarged and remodelled by R.& R. Dickson in 1836. The obelisk was erected by Lord Kames between 1766- 1782 and is listed category B. The walled garden dates from c.1800 and fine wrought-iron gates remain at the entrance on the east wall. Various urns and pieces of garden ornamentation have been removed from the site since 1975 and retained by Sir John Muir and family.
The parkland laid out by Lord Kames incorporated many of the trees remaining from the formal landscape, the avenues of which can be detected on the 1st edition OS map, and some of the oaks on these lines remain even today. The new informal layout incorporated a serpentine lake to the south-west of the house. An island in the centre was reached by a rustic-style bridge shown in photographs of 1912 but has long since gone.
Great interest was taken in the trees at Blair Drummond according to several 19th century accounts, among them one by J.C. Loudon, who noted in the Encyclopedia of Gardening of 1824 that 'the evergreens planted in his (Lord Kames') time are now singular ornaments'. Species also included oak, beech, sycamore and lime and many were measured by the gardener of the time, John Drummond, in 1836 and again twenty years later. To ensure the trees gained their true form, only sheep and no cattle were grazed in the parks. Many of the fine trees were lost in the storms of 1856 and 1879 and, following each storm, trees were planted in the parks and these remain there today. An oak avenue which lines the minor road to the West Lodge from the A84(T) was replanted in the late 19th century. The lime avenue runs from the East Lodge to the A84.
Three driveways swept through the park and converged on the original house as indicated on the 1st edition OS map of c.1860. Of these, the north and east drives have gone and the west drive was re-aligned after the construction of the new house in 1868. The Gardeners' Magazine of 1841 notes that views from the approaches commanded views to Ben Lomond and the Grampian Hills and the fine old ruin of Doune Castle.
The sale catalogues of 1912 recorded that the parks extended over some 700 acres. The most northerly area of parkland, High Daira, is still mainly permanent pasture. In the park directly south, the valley of Coustry, gravel extraction is well advanced. The parkland between here and the house is farmed. Some 100 acres of parkland to the south-east of the house are now a Safari Park, the reception building and car park of which are situated to the east of the terraced garden. In the summer months the animals roam in the enclosures in view of the house and terraced gardens. In the parkland between the house and the west drive, a pheasant pen is sited.
The sale catalogues of 1912 recorded some 500 acres of policy woodland which, according to 19th century descriptions, appear to have been a mix of deciduous and coniferous species. As in the parkland, the informal layout of Lord Kames incorporated some of the trees of the original layout and some remain today in the oak avenue which lies to the east of the house. The wood to the north of the present house is also shown on General Roy's map of c.1750; the Gardeners' Magazine of 1841 describes it as 'a fine grove of oaks, beeches, larches and Weymouth pines'. Since 1912 many acres of woodland have been replanted and many parkland trees have also been added.
The article also describes 'extensive walks and shrubberies' in the woodland in the Sandy Hills, which linked the house with the walled garden. The report also notes that the shrubberies, at the time of planting, contained a first rate collection of hardy shrubs and ornamental trees some of which are now of a great size. Incorporated within the shrubbery was the Fern Garden (now rather overgrown) and Christ's Well. The obelisk built by Lord Kames is situated on a mound in the south-west corner of Sandy Hills Wood, and access was gained by a footpath spiralling up to it. The path returns along the edge of the wood where views were gained of the house, park and lake. Today, the walks remain, but some of the ornamental planting has gone. Like the other areas of woodland, it is now largely coniferous with some deciduous species incorporated.
The terraced gardens were laid out on the south and west of the house which was built between 1868-72 to the design of J.C. Walker. A formal terrace is enclosed by stone balustrading on the south side of the house. A terrace walk runs along the lower south side of this terrace and some interesting shrubs remain along its length. Beyond this walk, to the south, is a bank of ornamental shrubs which are now overgrown. The walk continues north-east along the terraces.
On the west side of the formal terrace, steps led down to lawns one of which was used for croquet. The lawns remain today except in the area nearest the stable- block which is now used for growing vegetables for the house.
There are some fine trees and shrubs along the drive and to the east of the house, including some Macedonian larches, the Oak Alley, some Balsam poplars, Sequoias, Davidia, and Rhododendron.
The four acre walled garden was laid out c.1800 for the original house. The Gardeners' Magazine of 1841 records, 'two peach houses, a vinery, a store, and two ranges of melon pits, erected in 1834 on a somewhat new principal'. It also noted that it had a nursery extending over an acre and a half of land.
In the Sales Brochure of 1912, the description of the garden also describes a rose garden with high trimmed box hedges, an orchard and herbaceous plants. The garden was last kept up in 1960. It has been leased since then to the Caravan Club who have removed the last remnant of the old garden and the glasshouses; it is now laid out for touring caravan pitches.