Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Local Authority
East Lothian
NT 75976 71487
375976, 671487

Dunglass was one of Scotland's finest examples of the late 18th century picturesque style of landscape design, and although many of the core features have been lost, the basic structure can still be recognised.

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

Dunglass has high value as a Work of Art since it is recognised as being an outstanding example of the Picturesque landscape in Scotland although some of the components have since been lost.


Level of interest

Dunglass has high Historical value on account of its early landscape features and associations with Sir James Hall.


Level of interest

Dunglass has no specialist plant collection.


Level of interest

Dunglass has some Architectural value as the landscape provides the setting for several buildings and architectural features of interest.


Level of interest
Not Assessed


Level of interest

The present designed landscape has some Scenic value.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The water features at Dunglass have some Nature Conservation value.

Location and Setting

Dunglass is situated approximately 0.3 miles (0.5km) inland from the Berwickshire coast some 6 miles (10km) south-east of the town of Dunbar and 0.5 miles (1km) north-west of the village of Cockburnspath. The A1(T) and the Edinburgh/London railway line form the northern boundary of the site. The Bilsdean and Dunglass Burns flow through the policies carving deep gorges on their route to the coast. The Dunglass Burn forms the boundary between the regions of Lothian and Borders.

The surrounding landscape is largely in agricultural use. Much of the farmland is owned by the estate although some is tenanted. The SSEB Nuclear Power Station at Torness is situated on the coast some 2 miles (3.5km) to the north- west of Dunglass and is visible from within the policies. Views out to the North Sea are obtainable, particularly from high points. The gorges, with their woods, rocks and water were seen as significant sublime features in the picturesque landscape design developed in the 18th & 19th centuries. The woodlands and bridges remain today as important features in the local landscape. There are proposals for the construction of a Cockburnspath Bypass which may affect the designed landscape.

The present Dunglass House stands on the site of its predecessors above the western bank of the Dunglass Burn within some 610 acres (247ha) of designed landscape which extends north to the A1, south to the village of Oldhamstocks, west to the woodlands beyond the Bilsdean Burn and east to the woodlands beyond the Dunglass Burn.

Documentary evidence of the development of the designed landscape is confined to General Roy's map of c.1750, the 1st edition OS map of c.1863, the 2nd edition OS map of c.1900 and the modern OS map. Comparison of this evidence indicates that the policies were extended between the mid-18th & 19th centuries, and again after 1918.

An English encampment was sited on the hill, 1,548' (472m), to the west of the house, and its remains consist of ramparts and deep trenches with a high rectangular mound on the south side. It was used during the occupation of Haddington in 1548-9 and destroyed shortly afterwards by the Scots.

Site History

The Picturesque designed landscape of Dunglass was laid out between 1776 and 1832. It incorporated an earlier landscape associated with the existing house and Church. The design structure has remained relatively consistent although the composition of individual components has altered over the years.

The original Dunglass Castle was built in the 14th century by Sir Thomas Home who had acquired the estate through his marriage to its heiress. In 1403 The Collegiate Church was built by their descendant, Sir Alexander Home. The family forfeited Dunglass in 1516 to the Douglases. In 1532 and 1547 the Castle was burnt down. After the second fire, a new house was built on a grand scale for the period, only to be destroyed whilst being held by the Earl of Haddington in 1640.

In 1680 the estate was purchased by John Hall who became Provost of Edinburgh and was created a Baronet in 1687. The earliest evidence of the designed landscape dates from the Hall family period; Roy's map of c.1750 indicates a series of avenues radiating from a central position to the west of where the present house stands. An account of 1760 by Bishop Pococke who visited Dunglass in that year describes 'the lawn before the house, on each side of which is a wood, and a rivulet runs towards the end of the lawn under a small arch over the ground is raised. To the back of the house is a beautiful Glyn covered with wood of 40 years growth....'.

Sir James Hall, the 4th Bart, (1761-1832) inherited the estate on the death of his father in 1776. He was a renowned scholar and author of a variety of works including his 'Essay on the Origin, History and Principals of Gothic Architecture' which was published in 1813. By the time of Sir James' succession, the house was in poor condition and Alexander Stevens was commissioned to report on its condition and future potential. This study was ignored and Sir James concentrated on the development of the landscape. Comparison of Roy's map with the 1st edition of c.1863 indicates the total extent of his work. Dunglass was remodelled as one of the most remarkable examples of the use of the principals of the Picturesque movement. The house was designed to fit in with these ideas. Alexander Nasmyth, a family friend, was consulted by Sir James. He made sketches of alternative styles which could be adopted for the construction of a new house, one in the Gothic Style, another with more classical form. Sir James believed that the Gothic Style was only successful when viewed from afar and he was prepared to adopt an amalgamation of styles. In 1807 Richard Crichton was commissioned to build a new house on the edge of the Dunglass Burn and the old house was demolished. The Church was retained as a Romantic element in the design.

Sir James died in 1832. Dunglass remained in the family until 1918 when it was purchased by Frank J. Usher. Around this time, the estate was extended and considerable improvements were carried out on the estate land and buildings. During World War II the house was occupied by Donaldson's School. A fire in 1947 caused considerable damage and the roof was thereafter removed. In 1958 the house was blown up and a modern two-storey house was built in its place. The present owner inherited Dunglass in 1961 and has continued his predecessor's work on improving the estate.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Dunglass House was built between 1807-13 to the design of Richard Crichton. It was altered several times, lastly in 1918 by Sidney Mitchell & Wilson. It was demolished in 1958 following a fire in 1947 and has been replaced by a modern house on the original site.

Dunglass Collegiate Church, listed as an Ancient Monument, dates from the 15th century. It is of ashlar construction and cruciform on plan. In the 18th century it was used as a stable and agricultural store. The Gatepiers, at the West and East Lodges are 19th century and listed category C(S). The Stables, also listed category C(S), date from the 19th century and have been converted into dwellings. The Gazebo which stands on the site of the encampment dates from the 18th century. It is hexagonal on plan, has highly ornamental stonework, and is statutorily listed. The Sundial which stands near the Church dates from the 17th century and is also listed. There are three bridges; the Old Bridge, which dates from the 17th century, the new bridge, which dates from the 19th century, and the A1 Road Bridge, which was built to the design of Blythe & Blythe in 1932. The Dunglass Viaduct, listed category B, was built in the mid-19th century to carry the railway over the Dunglass Burn.


The parkland at Dunglass was originally laid out to the north of the house between the Bilsdean and Dunglass Burns. Driveways were laid out to extend from the West and East Lodges through woodland and emerge into the parkland on the final approach to the house. The main approach is thought to have been the west drive from where a fine view of the house could be gained across the pond which remains today. Since the survey of the 2nd edition OS map, the park has been extended as a result of the felling of a stand of woodland between the house and the Mains Farm whilst a small area of park between the east drive and the Dunglass Burn has been planted up with Scots pine. The original parkland trees were predominantly beech and have been replanted since World War II.


The majority of the policy woodlands were laid out as part of the picturesque remodelling of Dunglass although reference to Roy's map and J.C. Loudon's Encyclopedia of Gardening indicates that woodlands were established on the site even before 1750. The 18th & 19th century plantings consisted mainly of beech and sycamore. Since World War II, much of the timber has been felled. Deciduous woodland remains along the margins of Dunglass & Bilsdean Burns, whilst a considerable acreage of woodland between the two burns has been replanted as commercial forestry. An ornamental edge of Rhododendron and deciduous trees has been retained to the woodland to the south of the house.

Walks through the woodland remain on their original alignment, although they are now maintained for forestry access.

The Gardens

The present house, the Church, stables and sundial stand within maintained lawns which are ornamented by specimen conifers. A tennis court, situated to the east of the sundial was constructed prior to 1925. The formal garden which was situated adjacent to the previous house was lost when the house was demolished. Photographs remain of the original layout.

A mature yew hedge, which once enclosed a semi-circular garden to the north of the house, remains although the interior of the enclosure is now grassed. A bowling green, reputedly laid out near the Gazebo on the encampment site has been planted over with commercial forestry.

Walled Gardens

The walled garden lies within parkland to the north-west of the house, adjacent to the original Factor's residence and gardens. Rectangular on plan, the garden is indicated on the 1st edition OS map as having a traditional layout of four compartments formed from intersecting paths. It was managed as a nursery for a period following World War II but this practice has now ceased. The fine original glasshouses remain and are stocked with pot plants. Part of the garden is still maintained for fruit and vegetable growing.




Printed Sources

CL, Sept 12th 1925

J.C. Loudon, 1824

Lost Houses of Lothian

C. McWilliam, 1978

Historical Monuments (Scotland) Commission, Inventory of Monuments in East Lothian

Small, 1883


NMRS, Photographs

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Dunglass Collegiate Church

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Related Designations

  1. Dunglass Collegiate Church, 70m E of 2 Stable CottagesSM13313

    Designation Type
    Scheduled Monument

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

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Printed: 08/08/2022 05:23