In 1713, John Thomson of Mildarie and Montry bought Newton House (situated at Charleton Farm) and the Charleton estate from Colonel John Hope. His son, John Thomson built the new house, Charleton House, c 1759 following his marriage to Margaret Paterson of Preston Hall. The house was designed to sit at the centre of the designed landscape, with formal gardens set within a semi-circular walled terrace, extending to the north, the east and west sides of the house. A formal avenue led northwards and southwards from the house along the central design axis. The North Avenue led to a rond point, then further north again to a narrow cut through a clump planted on the skyline, forming a 'keyhole' (Roy 1747-55). To the south, the vista was set out to focus on the Bass Rock.
Thomson's grandson, Colonel John Anstruther Thomson, succeeded in 1797. He married Clementina Adam of Blair Adam in 1807. Over the next three decades he commissioned a number of designs to alter or completely rebuild the house. One, in 1818 by William Burn (1789-1870), proposed remodelling the house but was unexecuted (Colvin 1995, p.188). In 1815-7, two classical wings were added to the house and a Burn design for an east wing was implemented (1832-3). It is probably during this period that the gardens and landscape were remodelled to complement the house. By 1828 there was an informal parkland, to which were added woodland belts, clumps and a scatter of parkland trees, which survive. Further work included breaking the South Avenue and the creation of east and west drives curving through the parkland leading in from Balchrystie (to the west) and from Charleton Farm to the east (Sharp, Greenwood and Fowler 1828).
Colonel John Anstruther Thomson (b. 1818), who inherited in 1833, recommissioned Burn to alter the house by adding a new east wing with a canted bay southwards onto the garden. Although there is no evidence for Burn's involvement in the garden design, a new arcaded 'garden vestibule' inserted in the south front sometime between 1822-55, suggests an emphasis on the garden at this side of the house.
By 1893, cross-walks had been formed in the East Garden. The West Garden was furnished with a long walk set against the west façade with a pattern of informal walks (1893, OS 25").
Colonel Charles Anstruther Thomson (1855-1925) inherited the estate in 1904. During his residence the front of the house was changed to the north side, thus the entrance drives were realigned to meet there (1893, OS 25"; 1912, OS 25"). This major building phase relates to Robert Lorimer's designs, Thomson's friend and neighbour at Kellie Castle (q.v. Inventory, Volume 4, p.394-9). A new entrance and long gallery on the north side of the house were created, along with garden terraces on the south. Colonel Charles visited Japan, returning in 1892 when he built a Japanese garden, centering on a pool between the west garden and west drive (1912, OS 25").
He laid out a series of radiating avenues, forming a patte d'oie, in the South Park between 1905-10. These appear to have been laid out on the lines of an earlier scheme, the vestiges of which are shown on the 1st edition 6"O.S. (1853, OS 6")
Following Colonel Charles' death in 1925, Grizel Anstruther Thomson, later Baroness Knut Bonde, inherited. After residing at Charleton for ten years, the family moved to live in Sweden. Thereafter, the house was lived in for only part of the year, until Baron John Bonde settled permanently at Charleton in 1955. A significant change to the designed landscape has been the creation of a golf course in the South Park, in 1994.