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
The layout of the south parks and past records of the gardens give Elvingston a little value as a Work of Art.
There are no historical records or plans at Elvingston but its associations with Sir David Lowe give it a little Historical value.
Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural
Sir David Lowe's development of daffodil varieties gives it some Horticultural value.
There are several interesting architectural features at Elvingston, giving it high Architectural value.
The park and woodlands of Elvingston make a significant contribution to the surrounding scenery.
The estate is intensively managed for farming and the designed landscape does not contain any habitats of outstanding importance for Nature Conservation.
- Not Assessed
There are no design plans or records at the house and there are no known landscape designers involved.
There are no documents or plans available at the house today and little is known of the early history of Elvingston. The mansion was owned until 1944 by the Ainslie family and was well maintained during their ownership. The shrubbery was probably established by the Ainslies and they were responsible for much tree planting in the parks and shelter woodlands. In 1944 the farm and mansion were bought by Sir David Lowe whose family farmed in the neighbourhood. Much of the land at Elvingston was devoted to market gardening and especially to fruit production. Alan Little, visiting in the 1980s, recorded the 'boughs hung with white blossom' covering 22 acres around the farm. Sir David's hobby, which has lent a distinctive character to the polices at Elvingston, was to breed rare daffodils. He acquired some of his Narcissi stock from the Brodie of Brodie and he concentrated on pale yellow varieties. Sir David Lowe died in 1980 and the estate now belongs to Mayfield Estates Co. The house has been leased for residential use for the last three years. As from June 1987, the house is for sale.
Elvingston House is a three-storeyed, early Victorian mansion house with Scots Jacobean features and a pepperpot turret at the east end; it is statutorily listed and was designed by John Tait in 1837. The office court dates from the same period and lies immediately to the east of the house. The front is one-storeyed with attic loft windows. Two pepperpot turrets which frame an arch within the courtyard are visible above the facade roof.
The Doocot is situated in the north of the courtyard; it is three- tiered, cylindrical and castellated with two porthole windows and 860 nesting- boxes. It is noted in the listings but ungraded. The steading at Trabraun is dated 1830 although it is based on an earlier farm which appears on Roy's 1750 map. This has a tower over the entrance arch which contains another doocot. There are several other estate buildings including the South and East Lodges and the Gardener's Cottage.
The south park is still grazed by cattle and contains many fine parkland trees dating from c.1830 with new plantings at various times, including some younger trees planted by Sir David Lowe. Species include oak, beech, chestnut, elm, silver birch and some later conifers. The roundel remains in the park to the south of the house. Some young cherry trees have been planted along the East Drive. To the north of the offices and shrubbery, the north park has been put to field crops although some of the park trees remain, notably a Monkey puzzle, retained along a field boundary.
The shooting potential of the estate is being developed and the woodlands are consequently well managed and new planting is being undertaken. Species include oak, beech, sycamore, spruce and larch. Woodland strips have been retained as shelterbelts around the policies.
The shrubbery lies to the west of the house. It was probably originally planted up by the Ainslies although little of horticultural interest remains today. The lawn is screened and sheltered by high hedges of yew and laurel and ornamental shrubs were planted within the garden including rhododendrons and lilac. There is a large Cedar of Lebanon in the shrubbery.
There is a high walled kitchen garden to the west of the house, south of the shrubbery. It has an extensive range of glasshouses along the south-facing wall which are today used for pot plants and propagations. In Sir David Lowe's time, the walled garden was intensively used for breeding rare daffodils, although it still retained some box hedges and a herbaceous border along its north/south axis. Alan Little commented on the wide range of fruit grown along the walls, and many fruit trees remain today. Part of the garden is now given over to pheasant rearing.
The orchard still exists to the west of the walled garden, although it is not so intensively managed now as in the past. The Hyacinth Walk which divided it has been lost since Sir David's time.