Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

Winton CastleGDL00387

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
East Lothian
NT 43540 69540
343540, 669540

A 19th century designed landscape developed from an earlier 18th century landscape, comprising terraced gardens, fine specimen trees, parkland, woodland and Winton Castle. The landscape has a long association with the Seton family.


Inventory record revised in 2019 to amend name of site. Previously designated as 'Winton House'.


Type of site:  An estate landscape including a castle, parkland, woodland, gardens and a walled garden.


Main phases of landscape development: late 18th century; 1846-1863; mid-20th century.


Artistic Interest

Level of interest

The policies of Winton have some value as a Work of Art due to contemporary accounts of the 19th century. Some of this value has been lost through necessary war-time activity and post-war cutbacks but there is potential for restoration.


Level of interest

Winton has high Historical value due to the number of written accounts of the house and policies and its associations with the Setons and descendants of Mrs Hamilton Nisbet since 1779.


Level of interest

Winton has some Horticultural/Arboricultural value due to the presence of the fine specimen trees in the grounds.


Level of interest

Winton has outstanding Architectural value as it provides the setting for category A listed buildings.


Level of interest

Not assessed.


Level of interest

Winton has some local Scenic value due to the contribution of the boundary woodlands.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

Winton has a little Nature Conservation value due to the presence of the waterbodies which flow through the policies.

Location and Setting

Winton Castle is situated on the north bank of the Tyne Water, on the north side of the village of Pencaitland and some 13 miles (21km) south-east of Edinburgh. The B6355 forms the northern boundary of the site whilst the A6093 passes through the village of Pencaitland and, with the Tyne Water, forms the southern boundary of the policies.

The surrounding landscape is relatively flat agricultural land with some shelterbelts of mixed woodland. Views to the Lammermuir and Pentland Hills in the south can be gained on a clear day from the Castle. The boundary woodlands of the designed landscape are of some significance in the local scenery although they themselves prevent further views into the policy areas.

Winton Castle stands above the Tyne Water amid some 463 acres (188ha) of designed landscape which extends north to the B6355, south to the woodland beyond the Tyne Water, west to Winton West Mains and east to the A6093 at the village of Pencaitland. Documentary map evidence of the designed landscape is provided by General Roy's map of c.1750, the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of 1863 and the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map of around 1900 which indicate that the policy area was extended after 1750 and was established in its present form by 1863.


Site History

The present designed landscape was laid out in the first half of the 19th century on the site of a previous 17th century landscape laid out by the 3rd Earl of Winton. It was seriously affected by necessary war-time operations but has since been partially restored.

Earliest records of Winton go back to the De Quincey family who resided at Winton during the reign of Alexander I (1108-1124). A daughter of the family later married one of the de Saytens, later Seton, who were granted lands in East Lothian by David I (1124-53). The estates of Seton and Winton were joined during the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214).

George, 4th Lord Seton, began the 1st phase of building at Winton around 1480. Maitland's 'History of the House of Seton' describes the ornamental garden of Winton at that time as having flower plots which were surrounded by a hundred painted wooden towers or temples, surrounded by gilt balls. The 4th Lord Seton died in 1508 and the Castle was burnt down by the English forces around 40 years later leaving only the barrel vaulted ground floor and the walls up to the third floor and above.

The Seton family, loyal to the Stuart kings, were granted an Earldom in 1600. Soon after, restoration work began on the Castle but this ceased on the death of the first Earl in 1603. His son Robert, the 2nd Earl, inherited extensive debts which his father had incurred restoring the property for him. He, in fact, resigned his title in favour of his younger brother, George, the 3rd Earl, who in around 1620 commissioned William Wallace to fully restore the Castle. Winton became the Dower House and Seton Palace remained the main residence for the family.

It is recorded, that the Earl 'founded and built the castle from its foundation wall with all the large park, orchard and gardens there'. That he built the castle from foundation level has been disputed and the only evidence of the designed landscape is provided by General Roy's map of around 1750 when enclosed areas are shown to the north and south of the Castle. Also indicated is the village of Winton which was originally sited to the north of the Castle but was moved around 1853.

The 5th Earl, George, was a Jacobite who forfeited the estates after the 1715 uprising and he fled to Rome to escape execution where he died, unmarried, in 1749. The forfeited estates were acquired by the York Building Company and a period of neglect fell on the landscape which lasted until 1779 when the Company went bankrupt and the Winton estate was acquired by Mrs Hamilton Nisbet, who also owned the lands of Belhaven, Dirleton and Pencaitland. Her younger son, Colonel John Hamilton, inherited the estate on her death in 1797 and began what is generally regarded as the second phase of building in the Castle.

William Forrest's map of East Lothian, surveyed in 1799, marks Pencaitland House as the residence of Colonel Hamilton, while Winton does not even have a name. What remains of the avenue to Pencaitland House has since been included as part of the parkland at Winton. The mansion part of Pencaitland House was burnt down in 1876 leaving the two pavilions, now separate dwelling houses. Colonel Hamilton also planted extensively in the grounds prior to his death in 1804. The estate then passed through the female line of the family until 1846 when it was inherited by Lady Ruthven. She made extensive improvements to the grounds shown on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of 1863 which included the re-siting of the village of Winton to its present situation to the north-west of the Castle. Sir Walter Scott is said to have modelled Ravenswood Castle in his 'Bride of Lammermoor' on Winton Castle.

In 1885, Constance Nisbet Hamilton succeeded and, three years later, she married Henry Ogilvy, 2nd son of the 9th Baronet of Inverquharity by his second marriage. On her death in 1920, the estate passed to a nephew of her husband, Gilbert Francis Molyneux Ogilvy. An architect by profession, he removed part of the Regency extension on the east side of the Castle. During the Second World War, the west park was ploughed. Most of the woodlands were cut down and replanted in the 1950s and 1960s. Gates in the garden and at both lodges were likely brought to Winton from Bloxholm in Lincolnshire, which Mrs Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy inherited from her ancestor, General Lord Robert Manners, son of the 2nd Duke of Rutland. In 1953 the estate passed to his son, David, who three years later inherited the title of 13th Baronet of Inverquharity from an uncle. The estate continues to be farmed and the woodlands were replanted in the mid-20th century. The castle was one of the first properties to benefit from grant-aid on the formation of the Historic Buildings Council.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Winton Castle, listed at category A and formerly known as Winton House, is a 17th century Renaissance mansion, with decorative stone chimneys and early 19th century castellated additions. It was built between 1620 and 1634 to the designs of William Wallace. Further additions were made to the building between 1797 and 1805 by John Paterson. The north lodge, listed at category A (LB18950), is a 19th century Gothic gatelodge with wrought iron gates. The gates at the south lodge are also listed at category A (LB18917) and thought to be 17th century. The south lodge is listed at category B (LB18916). Winton Laundry, listed at category B (LB18949), is a 20th century building designed by Gilbert Francis Molyneux Ogilvy, the present owner's grandfather.  The 1620 building was never completed; part of it was demolished for the later additions and it appears to have been first occupied by Lord and Lady Ruthven after 1846. Lord Ruthven died in 1853.



The parkland at Winton extends to the east and west of the castle between the B6355 and the Tyne Water. One driveway sweeps through the parkland from the north lodge whilst another enters from the A6093 by the south lodge and along 'Washinghouse Brae' on the south side of the east park on its approach to the castle.

The Ordnance Survey Gazetteer of 1885 and other contemporary reports record 'a large and finely wooded park' at Winton. The west park was ploughed during the Second World War around the old trees, and some of these trees have not been replaced when they died of old age. Some had become too large and were too close to the castle. The east park has been ploughed since the 1950s, when its few old standard hawthorn trees were removed. The 'Washinghouse Brae' to the south of it has still a very few of the original trees, but most have been felled and the land replanted, including an avenue of Canadian maple.

Part of the parkland by the south lodge has been developed for private houses.



Most of the woods on the estate were planted by Colonel John Hamilton of Pencaitland (1751-1804), who also developed the farms and coalmines and reconstructed Winton Castle. Some further planting has been done by each successive owner since then. Most of the old woods have been felled and replanted since about 1950 in a continuing programme now managed under an officially approved scheme by Scottish Woodland Owners (Commercial) Ltd. The woodlands extend around the perimeter of the site and form an almost total enclosure to the parkland.


The Gardens

The gardens include the terraced gardens, which lie to the south of the castle, and the lawns to the east and west of the castle, between it and the kitchen garden.

Fine copper beeches and other specimen trees stand on the lawn next to the castle including some yews which remain around the area on the east side of the castle indicated as a 'Bowling Green' on the 1st  edition Ordnance Survey map. The lawn to the west of the castle was reclaimed from the park between 1863 and c.1900 and is now enclosed by an ornamental shrub border.

The terraced gardens to the south of the castle were improved and laid out by Lady Ruthven between 1846 and 1885. Shrubs are grown in borders along the bases of each terrace. A gate at the end of the footpath along the terrace walk was designed by Gilbert Ogilvy and includes a peacock, part of the Bloxholm crest, in its wrought- iron frame.

The lowest of the three terraces is enclosed by a beech hedge which separates the garden from the haughlands along the north side of the Tyne Water. The semi-circular hedge was planted as part of the redesign of the garden by Gilbert Ogilvy and his wife after they inherited the property in 1920. The lowest terrace is now largely lawn with an interesting collection of ornamental shrubs and trees, some of which are clipped.


Walled Gardens

The walled garden is situated to the north of the castle. The main part of the garden was established in its present form by 1863 but it is unclear if it was built as part of the improvements carried out by Colonel Hamilton between 1800 and 1804 or Lady Ruthven between 1846 and the date of the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey. It is walled on three sides, the south side being enclosed by a holly hedge, but it is thought a fourth wall did exist at one time as foundations have been traced below the hedge line. The garden was laid out as a kitchen garden until the Second World War when the area, including a rock garden at the west end, was ploughed. In around 1958 it was run as a market garden for a short while. An old greenhouse blew down in the winter of 1960-1961. The garden is presently leased for the commercial production of herbs (1987). Between 1863 and around 1900 an additional area of kitchen garden was enclosed on the north side. This area is presently used as allotments for the estate cottages (1987).




Canmore: CANMORE ID 120777

Maps and archives

Forrest, W. (1799) Map of Haddingtonshire (East Lothian), Edinburgh.

National Monuments Record of Scotland, Photographs.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1853, published 1855) Haddingtonshire, Sheet 14 (includes: Humbie, Ormiston, Pencaitland, Saltoun). 6 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1892, published 1894) Haddingtonshire, Sheet XIV.3 (Pencaitland). 25 inches to the mile. 2nd and later editions. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1892, published 1894) Haddingtonshire, Sheet IX.15 (Gladsmuir, Ormiston, Pencaitland). 25 inches to the mile. 2nd and later editions. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1906, published 1907) Haddingtonshire, Sheet XIV.3 (Pencaitland). 25 inches to the mile. 2nd and later editions. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Printed sources

Country Life. 'Winton Castle: The Seat of Mrs Nisbet Hamilton Ogilvy', Country Life, 24 August 1912, pp.260-267.

Billings, R. W. (1845-52) The Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas.

Forman, S. Country Life, 22 August 1947

Forman, S. S[?] F[?], September 1959

Hannan, T. (1928) Famous Scottish Houses: The Lowlands. London: A & C Black, pp.193-196.

McWilliam, C. (1978) The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian except Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books, pp.472-474.

Ogilvy, F G A. (2000) Winton House, East Lothian: a guide. Pencaitland.

Small, J. (1883) The castles and mansions of the Lothians; illustrated in one hundred and four views with historical and descriptive accounts. Vol. II. Edinburgh: William Paterson.

Online sources

Groome F. H. (1882-4) Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, available [accessed 08/03/2019].

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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Winton Castle
Winton Castle

Printed: 24/10/2021 12:27