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 designed landscape at Whittingehame is a noted example of the work of W.S. Gilpin and has high value as a Work of Art.
There are historical associations with Whittinghame Tower and the Whittinghame Yew. There are also associations with the Balfour family since 1817, giving the site outstanding Historical value.
Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural
The arboretum has been well recorded since 1846 and contains many interesting specimen trees; the forestry experiments carried out over the years at Whittingehame add to its significance giving it high value in this category.
Both Whittingehame Tower and Whittingehame House are listed A and the site has outstanding Architectural value.
The policy woodlands screen the estate from view from the surrounding area but provide some Scenic interest in themselves.
The older woodlands and the valley of the Whittinghame Water provide some value for Nature Conservation in the surrounding farmed landscape.
- Not Assessed
The present designed landscape was laid out c.1819 to the designs of W.S. Gilpin in association with a new house designed by Sir Robert Smirke.
Whittingehame belonged to the Earl of March prior to 1372 when it was given to his sister on her marriage to James Douglas of Dallieston. It remained in the Douglas family for nearly two centuries and tradition holds that it was at Whittingehame, under the Great Yew, that the Earl of Morton plotted Darnley's murder with Bothwell. In 1660 Whittingehame passed again by marriage to the Seton family, and similarly into the Hay family in the next generation. It remained in the Hay family until 1817 when it was sold to James Balfour of Balbirnie in Fife.
James Balfour's improvements began on a large scale with the removal of the village from its former position in the Doocot Park to a new model village on the south bank of the Luggate Burn, north-west of the former site. W.S. Gilpin was employed to lay out the grounds, and a large fruit and vegetable garden with extensive glasshouses was put in to the north of the Tower. Sir Robert Smirke was commissioned to design a new house and this was built on a new site to the east of the Whittingehame Water by 1825. James Balfour died in 1847 and was succeeded by his son, James Maitland Balfour, who married Lady Blanche Gascoigne-Cecil, daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury. Lord Salisbury introduced to Whittingehame some Eucalyptus trees brought back from Ballarat in Australia in the 1850s. James Maitland Balfour was a keen improver and managed his estates for their sporting value. He died in 1856 and was succeeded by his son Arthur James Balfour, later Prime Minister from 1902-5.
Arthur James Balfour, created Earl of Balfour in 1922, also carried out extensive improvements to Whittingehame and was assisted in his absence by his sister Miss Alice Balfour (author of 'Twelve Hundred Miles in a Waggon' 1896). In 1871 the terrace and surrounding balustrades were added to the garden front of the house. Miss Balfour was a keen horticulturalist and she also added the double lime avenue to the north of the house. Lord Balfour took a keen interest in forestry and planted hundreds of acres in the course of his experiments on the growth of hardwood trees. Lord Balfour died in 1930 and the estate was inherited by his nephew, Robert Arthur, who became 3rd Earl of Balfour in 1945. Whittinghame House was sold in 1963 with about 38 acres of land, including the stables; all of this property has since changed hands more than once. The old Tower was made back into a home in 1964 and has been much improved in the last four years by Gerald Arthur, who became 4th Earl of Balfour in 1968.
Whittingehame Tower is thought to date from the early 13th century or earlier. It is a square, battlemented keep, three storeys high, which was restored in the 17th century for one of the Douglas family. It is listed A. Whittingehame House is a classical mansion designed by Robert Smirke in 1817 with additions by William Burn in 1827. It is three storeys with a balustraded upper storey; the porch on the garden front was added in 1871. The house is listed A. The Stables were possibly designed by Smirke and lie to the north of the house, consisting of two parallel ranges and are statutorily listed. The stables and most of the lodges are now in separate ownerships. The Lodges were possibly designed by Smirke, the West Lodge is listed C(S). Nearby the walled garden is a Temple built by Lord Balfour in 1905; the elaborate wrought- iron gates to the walled garden are dated 1914. The entrance gatepiers to Whittingehame Tower are dated 1740. Lady Eleanor's Cottage, a 19th century Gothic cottage, is listed C(S). There is also a wellhead in the garden of the Tower, and the Balfour palm tree crest appears on the garden gate dated 1956. The Garden House is a classical one-storey building ornamented with urns along its flat roof; it is listed
The 1st edition OS of 1853 shows the parkland as laid out by Gilpin, bounded by Mountlehoy Lodge in the south and Eastfield in the north. There were many individual parkland trees planted in all the parks but only those in the park south of Whittingehame House now remain, and the parks are now farmed. The drives to the new house impressed most recorders of the scene and one noted 'there are three noble approaches, each of great length, winding through beautiful scenery and guarded by handsome lodges'. In 1902 there were 40 acres of lawns and 11 miles of paths and drives. Trees in the parks included specimen lime, Scots pine and beech.
A lime avenue marks the original entrance route to Whittingehame Tower and it is divided from the former deer park beyond by both a high wall and a deep ha- ha for deer. The splendid double avenue of limes to the north of Whittingehame House was put in by Miss Alice Balfour. Some tennis courts and sports pitches were added near the house in recent years while it was used as a school. The garden terrace retains its potted trees and balustrades.
All the woodlands at Whittingehame have been managed on a commercial basis since they were first planted. The 1st Lord Balfour was a keen forester and conducted experiments on the different growth rates of hardwood trees. An area of the walled garden has been let to the Forestry Commission for silvicultural experiments. The policy woodlands are planted with mixed deciduous species.
The gardens in Miss Alice Balfour's time were celebrated and contained conservatories and vineries on a large scale, including a 'curvilinear roofed peachery'. There were herbaceous flower borders as well as fruit and vegetables in the garden. In 1905 Lord Balfour added the Temple outside the walls, and the large wrought-iron gates were added in 1914. Part of the walled garden is leased to the Forestry Commission and part is used for pheasant-rearing. The Forestry Commission also manages a seed orchard to the south of the walled garden adjacent to the drive.
There is also a walled flower garden adjacent to Whittingehame Tower.
There is an early and very interesting collection of exotic specimen trees around the walled garden to the north of Whittingehame Tower. One of the first trees recorded here was a Blue Gum, planted in 1846 and measured at 53 feet high in 1885. Alan Mitchell measured over 60 large specimen trees here in 1974 including two Eucalyptus gunnii 'Whittingehamensis', one of which has since died. He also measured the Whittinghame Yew, a tree of great age and thought to be c.700 years old, as 56 feet tall and 11 ft 5 inches in circumference. The Yew's most impressive feature, however, is the circumference covered by its vast spreading branches, which was recorded as 180 yards in the 1880s.
There are many magnificent trees in the arboretum here including a monkey puzzle clothed with branches to the ground, a 'superb' Acer pseudoplatanus 'Variegatum' which is 90 feet tall, and a fine cut-leaf beech. To these have been added more recently a Lebanese Cedar, some Metasequoias, Nothofagus and Eucryphia.
The Journal of Horticulture carried an article on Whittingehame in 1903 and recorded a wide variety of flowering shrubs interplanted with the specimen conifers. There are the remains of an elaborate trellis-work on the exterior of the south wall of the walled garden which was once planted with climbing roses. The Burial Ground is also planted round with interesting trees including walnuts, Spanish chestnut, holm oak and Sorbus varieties. Nearby are some very old fine beech trees.
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.