- Local Authority
- Liff And Benvie
- NO 35987 32875
- 335987, 732875
A 19th century example of the work of David Taylor and now used as a municipal country park, the designed landscape comprises a category A listed house, parkland, woodland and informal gardens.
Type of Site
A 19th century landscape park, much altered and fragmented, with over half of the parkland given over to a golf course and caravan park and the walled garden used as a wildlife park, with surviving remnants of former woodland, specimen trees, a late 19th century arboretum and informal gardens.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Landscape park laid out in 1805 and 1859, with tree planting in the 1820s, 1850s and 1880s, and major interventions in the latter half of the 20th century.
Location and Setting
Camperdown House is situated off the A923 on the outskirts of the City of Dundee, less than half a kilometre from the ring road and 5 km (3 miles) from the centre. It lies on ground which gently rises from the north bank of the River Tay. The site is bordered by roads, notably the A923 to the north and the A972 to the south. The soil is a good loam. The climate is affected by the sea and the wide expanse of the Firth of Tay. The suburbs of Dundee almost surround the site.
From the house there are extensive views south west across the Firth of Tay to Fife and west towards the Carse of Gowrie. Within the designed landscape both views are framed by trees. Woodland shelter belts almost surround the park and contribute significantly to the urban scenery.
The house lies in the middle of rectangular shaped policies. Camperdown is bordered by industrial sites on two sides, by farmland to the west and by a golf course to the north. Although there was an earlier house on the site, the designed landscape was laid out in the early 19th century. The extent has remained the same except for a 18 ha (44.5 acre) triangular section taken from the south-east corner for a factory site. Today the designed landscape extends to an area of some 185 ha (457 acres).
A stone wall runs around the policies which borders the woodland belts of varying ages. The park is almost divided into four sections by two avenues and two blocks of woodland; one avenue runs north/south, and the other east/west to the walled garden. One of the plantations extends from the West Lodge to the house and the other lies to the south of the Walled Garden.
The grounds were laid out in the 19th century and in 1949 the golf course was made and since then other facilities for the public have been added.
The Duncan Family were associated with Dundee from the early 16th century. In 1682, Alexander Duncan purchased the Lundie estate. The original house had been built in 1540 and was demolished when the present one was constructed in 1824; at the same time the name was changed to Camperdown.
Throughout the 18th century, the family played a prominent part in the political affairs of Dundee. They sided with the government against the Stuarts, and on several occasions, members of the family were appointed Provost. Adam Duncan (1731-1804) joined the Navy and rose to the rank of Admiral. In 1797, he commanded the Home Fleet and won the Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch who were threatening to invade Britain. He was created Viscount Duncan and Baron Lundie. His son Robert, 2nd Viscount, commissioned William Burn to design a 'Greek Revival' house. Robert was created Earl of Camperdown by William IV in 1831. He designed the park, with the assistance of David Taylor, a forester. Between 1805 and 1859 David Taylor and his son planted most of the trees.
Robert, the 3rd Earl, was the last member of the family to live at Camperdown. His younger brother, the 4th Earl, inherited when he was 70 years old and had no family. The house and estate passed to a cousin Georgina, Dowager Duchess of Buckinghamshire. She died in 1937 and the contents were sold in 1941. Camperdown then passed through several owners until the estate was bought by Dundee Corporation in 1946. Three years later, the golf course was built in the western section of the site. Provision for other recreational activities have also been added including a Caravan Park and Wildlife Farm.
Camperdown House, listed category A, was designed by William Burn in 1821 and built between 1824-28. It is a Greek Revival house with an imposing facade of six Ionic columns. The Stables are situated near to the foundations of old Lundie House and were improved in the 1820s. The East and West Lodges and the South and North Lodges were probably built by the 1st Earl in the mid 19th century. The Walled Kitchen Garden was constructed by John Hay in about 1807. Since 1945, several other smaller buildings have been added as facilities for the public.
The park is surrounded by woodland which is itself enclosed by a stone wall. It was laid out between 1805 and 1859 by the Taylors in the informal style of the 'landscape' movement. The design can be clearly seen on the 1st edition OS plan dated 1859. The layout of the park divided roughly into four sections defined by avenues and plantations. Since 1949, two western sections have been laid out as a golf course and the north eastern one for public recreation. The fourth section is let for pony grazing and a large caravan park is located near to the City Parks Department nurseries.
One or two trees still remain from the original designed landscape around Lundie House but most were planted in the 19th century in approximately three periods; the 1820s, 1850s and 1880s. These trees are mainly common lime, sycamore, beech, ash and oak. The two avenues are planted with common lime. In the avenue to the north of the house, the limes in the northern half were planted c.1860 and the southern end has been recently replanted with beech in about 1960.
The eastern section was once called the 'Deer Park' and the long sweeping drive from Dundee runs through the middle of it. The 1st edition OS plan shows many more trees in this area but those that remain are tall and well proportioned. The trees planted in the 1820s are mainly lime, Sweet chestnut, ash and beech. Those planted later in the 1850s and 1900s are more exotic and include some fine copper beeches as well as striking Turkey oaks (Quercus cerris), silver limes (Tilia tomentosa), and a weeping lime (Tilia petiolaris). A small weeping form of elm raised on the site was named after Camperdown in about 1850 and called Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii'. This eastern area is used as a public open space with closely mown grass. It also contains various facilities for public recreation such as a playground, tennis courts and small car parks.
In the southern section, there were originally three fields. These have been split into five areas. Ponies from the Riding Stable graze two and one is used for informal games. A large caravan park is situated in a fourth. The caravan pitches are well laid out but the fussy shrubs beds are not in keeping with the parkland quality of its surroundings and the large toilet block is fairly intrusive from outwith the park. Just to the west lies the Dundee Parks Department's Nursery which is enclosed by tall conifer hedges.
An Adventure Playground Complex has been built just north of the Caravan Park. It features the Battle of Camperdown. Two football pitches have also been added. A new building containing a refreshment kiosk, toilets, and storage for the Boating Lake has been built near the playground. A new boating lake and water play area will soon be built. Additional screen planting between the Caravan Park and the playground complex has also been planted.
The western side was made into an 18 hole Golf Course in 1949. Many of the mature broadleaved trees were removed and the woodland edges straightened to make room for the fairways. These were marked by new plantations of conifers, mostly Japanese larch, Norway and Sitka spruce and various pines. These plantings detract significantly from the original parkland quality.
On his return from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the 1st Earl planted over 1,000 acres of woodland on his estate which extended beyond the present policies of Camperdown. These trees formed the basis of the woodlands which now surround the park and there are a few isolated clumps remaining of the hardwood trees planted at that time. However, most of the trees were felled between 1931-32. They were mainly replanted with Scots pine and Japanese larch and there are some good stands of almost pure beech in the north-east corner. Since the transfer of the estate to the City, the woodlands along the northern and eastern boundaries have been replanted with a mixture of ornamental hardwoods including copper beeches, willows, oaks and more recently American oaks, rowans and hornbeams in a nurse crop of spruce and Scots pine. The shelterbelts are being carefully managed to ensure their renewal under a 20 year programme.
The garden includes the area around the house and the Shrubbery to the south, planted along the path leading towards the Walled Garden.
The house is protected from the winds by trees planted on the west and south east sides. During the later part of the 19th century, many exotic trees were planted amongst the original broadleaved trees. Some of these still exist, including a fine monkey puzzle, a Deodar cedar, a large purple beech and several white firs. The 1st edition OS plan shows that between the woodlands and dense shrubbery thickets there were once lawns containing occasional specimen trees. Most of the trees have now gone and part of the lawn has been turned into a putting green.
Around the house, part of which is used as a Clubhouse for the golf course, narrow shrub beds and small bedding out borders have been planted. On the west side between the house and the stable-block, an overgrown shrubbery only partially hides an ugly toilet block, the works compound and the riding stables. The shrubbery contains the remnants of an arboretum planted between 1850 and 1900. The condition and contents were described in a report written in about 1890 on the future management of the trees. It lists over 21 species, mainly conifers, some of which still survive including a large Wellingtonia which was recorded then as only 7' high. Rhododendrons and Azaleas were planted as understorey but today much of the planting is overgrown.
The present walled garden was designed by John Hay in about 1807. He constructed extensive greenhouses and a complex watering system. The greenhouses have recently been replaced with modern aluminum ones which are used by the Parks Department. The original design of the garden is shown on the 1st edition OS plan and on several 19th century illustrations and photographs. It contained several compartments enclosed by high brick walls and a raised walk ending in two brick pillars ran along the south side. The pillars were constructed with loose bricks and between each brick there was a gap. All the internal layout was removed when the Walled Garden was turned into a Wildlife Park displaying a collection of indigenous species of animals that lived in the past and present in Scotland. The zoo is very popular with the visitors, although to some eyes the design is rather fussy and contrived.
Another shrubbery to the south of the garden has been cleared and the space used for enclosures for larger mammals. Around and within the enclosures sycamores, larches, horse chestnuts, elms, limes and walnuts have been planted as specimen trees. The car park for the zoo is sited in the parkland just to the east of the garden. The cars are hidden by drifts of tall garden shrubs which are fairly incongruous in the parkland setting.