From the 13th century, the lands of the present Duchal House belonged to the Lyles whose stronghold was Duchal Castle, one and a quarter miles to the west-north-west. The castle, of which little now remains, stood on a rocky outcrop between the Green Water and Blacketty Water. In 1544, the land passed to John Porterfield of Porterfield whose family were lairds at Duchal House for the next 300 years.
Johann Blaeu's Atlas, 1654, shows 'Ducchal' and 'Old Castle', each surrounded by a palisade. It is extremely likely that a formal designed landscape was created between 1654 and 1755. Alexander Porterfield built a house at Duchal in 1710 which is now the south wing of the existing mansion. The layout shown on General Roy's Military Survey, 1747-55, may be attributable to Alexander Porterfield, or may be earlier. Roy's plan shows formal gardens on the south side of the house with a series of parallel rides or avenues stretching out into the landscape. The doocot may belong to the 1710 period.
In 1768, Boyd Porterfield extended the house to the east with a new principal wing centred on the main east-west avenue. There does not appear to have been a radical reforming of the gardens and designed landscape at this time, but the offices were relocated on the east-west axis between Boyd Porterfield's new wing and the Green Water. The Green Water may have been canalised at this date or earlier.
The later 18th century saw the formation of an informal drive from the south-west, running alongside the Green Water. This is shown on John Ainslie's plan of 1796 but it is not known who was responsible for this development.
The walled garden was probably built when the house was extended towards the end of the 18th century, and is constructed out of stone. It first appears on the 1st edition OS map of 1863, as does the informal drive through the park to the south-east. These developments may precede the mid-19th century Shaw-Stewart era.
The Shaw-Stewarts acquired the estate in 1854 but apparently only used the house as a shooting lodge for Duchal Moor. They extended the policies north-east towards Kilmacolm after 1863, creating an entrance from the town with a long picturesque drive, northwards from the B788. This drive is now abandoned and is used as a footpath.
The estate was bought by Mr and Mrs Wallace in 1910, but sold in 1915 to the first Lord Maclay, grandfather of the existing Lord Maclay in whose ownership it remains.