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 design of the park and gardens is of high value as a Work of Art.
Maxwelton has some Historical value on account of the formal landscape which is known to have existed in the 18th century.
Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural
The new planting has introduced some unusual plants which provide some Horticultural value.
The designed landscape provides the setting for a category B listed building and thus has high Architectural value.
The open parkland and woodland canopy provide outstanding value to an upland area and the house is particularly significant.
Some of the woodland copses were shown on the 1750 plan and contain interesting woodland flora which, along with the waterbodies on the site, provide high Nature Conservation value.
- Not Assessed
The designed landscape was laid out during the 19th century based on an earlier landscape, probably 17th century, shown on the map produced by General Roy in 1750. There are no known landscape designers.
In the late 15th century, Glencairn Castle was built by the Cunninghams, Earls of Glencairn. A small portion of the estate and the castle was sold in 1611 to Stephen Laurie, a prosperous merchant from Dumfries, and the name was changed to Maxwelton House. Stephen's eldest son John probably altered the house and grounds in 1641 as noted on the armorial stone. His great-granddaughter, Annie Laurie, was the subject of the song made famous by Lady John Scott (Alicia Spottiswoode of Spottiswoode) sister-in-law of the 5th Duke of Buccleuch.
Admiral Sir Robert Laurie (1764-1848) inherited the estate in 1805. He built the wheel stair to the house in 1823 in the course of an extensive phase of improvements which established the designed landscape indicated on the 1st edition OS map. The property was left to his nephew, John Fector, who took the name of Laurie in 1848. His wife, Isabella, made numerous additions both to the house and gardens after his death and built the Chapel as a memorial to her husband. John Laurie's nephew, the Rev. Emilius Bayley, inherited the estate. He too assumed the name of Laurie. Maxwelton remained in his family until 1966, when Major General Sir John Bayley sold it to a firm of property dealers. In that year, the owners obtained permission to partially demolish the house and alter the interior. In 1968, before the proposed work had started, Maxwelton was rescued by Mr & Mrs Hugh Stenhouse. The Stenhouse family embarked on a major restoration programme for the designed landscape which they maintain today.
Maxwelton House, listed category B, was originally built as a 14th century tower house. It was altered and added to in the 18th & 19th centuries and restored between 1968-1972 by Michael Laird and Partners. The South and North Gatepiers are both listed category C(S) and were built c.1800. The North and South Lodges were both built in the 19th century. The Game Larder is an 18th century octagonal building recently converted to toilets for garden visitors. The Chapel, listed category B, was built in 1868. The original architect is unknown but local builders, Wauch & Son, were responsible for restoration work commissioned in 1968. There are several other ancillary buildings around the stable courtyard, some of which have been converted into cottages and others into facilities for the garden visitors, including a museum showing many of the old domestic and farm implements. There are three rustic Summerhouses constructed in the late 19th century, two of which are listed B.
The parkland extends south and east from the house and is enclosed by a stone wall. A small group of lime, planted in c.1850, sits on the top of a hillock in the eastern park. There are also specimen trees of lime, sycamore and beech. The parkland to the south stretches down to the Cairn Water and does not appear to have ever been planted with specimen trees. On the hill beyond the Cairn Water are some fine sycamore and ash trees standing in the pasture to the east of Old Crawfordton Farmhouse and these are important to Maxwelton as 'borrowed' landscape. These trees were planted in the 18th century or earlier and are shown on General Roy's plan of c.1750.
The main block of woodland is called Shaw Wood and was replanted c.1850-1880 as a mixed broadleaved woodland mainly with beech, oak, larch, ash and some sycamore. A few fine specimens of the earlier planting were left. In the 19th century a summerhouse was built on the edge of the Cairn Water and drives were made to it throughout the woodland. An example of this planting is a large beech near the river.
The entrance drive is lined with magnificent conifers planted in c.1880; included amongst them are fine Douglas firs and Silver firs. Many of the woodland strips to the north of the house have been replanted recently (c.1960- 1970) with a mixture of conifers such as Sitka spruce, Norway spruce, Douglas fir, larch and maples.
The terraced lawn to the south of the house was the site of an extensive knot garden, planted during Isabella Laurie's time c.1830 and well illustrated in the old photographs. It became overgrown and was finally removed c.1970. The garden has been replanted by Mrs Stenhouse who began the task in 1968.
The sheltered courtyard surrounded by the harled walls of the house has been beautifully planted up with delicate and tender shrubs and interesting climbers which grow up to the first floor. A formal garden, enclosed by a yew hedge, was made on the west side of the house in 1969. Below the retaining wall on the south side of the house, a long border has been filled with a mixture of shrubs and herbaceous plants containing many unusual and sun-loving plants, using the protection of the south- facing wall. Additional borders have been carved out of the western side of the lawn.
There is a tall wall running along the entrance drive which was built c.1700; along the wall, several extensive borders have recently been planted with Rhododendron and other ericaceous plants leading up to a magnificent cut-leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica heterophylla). On the western side of the house, a path leads to the kitchen garden flanked by lawns in which drifts of daffodils are naturalised under lime trees planted c.1880. At the bottom of the garden overlooking the park is a delightful Victorian rustic summerhouse, made with an interesting oak branch construction and a shingle roof which has replaced the original heather thatch.
To the south of the kitchen garden there is a small 19th century water garden with a 12' cascade which has recently been planted up with unusual trees and shrubs including Snakebark maples.
The kitchen garden is maintained for vegetables and cut flowers. One of the early fruit glasshouses remains against the tall wall and is filled with tender Rhododendrons, nectarines and plants grown for the house. Other free- standing glasshouses, hidden behind the wall, are used for propagating, growing early vegetables, and raising geraniums. All the greenhouses are well maintained.
SF Oct 1965
New Statistical Account 1845
Glasgow Herald, Aug 2nd 1960
G. Irvine, 'Annie Laurie', Dinwiddie & Co.
HBMD, County Inventory of Monuments
S. Forman, SCHC, 1967
I.O.T.Gladstone,1972,The Lauries of Maxwelton, The Research Publishing Co.
G.A. Little, 1981
About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes
Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.
The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.
The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.
Enquiries about development proposals, such as those requiring planning permission, on or around inventory sites should be made to the planning authority. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications of this type.
Find out more about the inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at email@example.com.
Printed: 20/01/2019 14:52