Listed Building

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Status: Designated


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Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
South Ayrshire
Planning Authority
South Ayrshire
NS 22895 9234
222895, 609234


John Thin, 1796 (designed). Ornamental Neo-classical gateway consisting of a pair of triumphal arches flanking carriageway, serving as piers for carriage gates, with pedestrian gates in each archway. Paired pilasters flanking arches and moulded cornices. Entablatures surmounted by plinths supporting pair of recumbent leopards. Polished ashlar construction, sculptures in Coade stone. Iron gates with scalloped upper rails and protruding spearheads. Hooped bracing to uppers and cross bracing below.

Statement of Special Interest

Part of An A-group at Culzean Castle Estate comprising: Culzean Castle; Castle Walls etc; Fountain Court etc; Ruined Arch and Viaduct; Stable Block etc; Camellia House; Cat Gates; Home Farm; Powder House; Ardlochan Lodge; Dolphin House; Hoolity Ha'; Swan Pond Complex; Swan Pond Ice House; Walled Garden; Bathing Complex; Water Works; Shore Boat House; Battery and Mast House; Main Drive Walls and Piers; Gas Works.

The Cat Gates, formerly known as the Swinston gateway, was intended as an extravagant showpiece. Today it is an important as a component of one of the most outstanding and ambitious landscaping schemes undertaken in Scotland. It was erected for the 12th Earl of Cassillis, although the idea of a grand entrance at Swinston, on the route from Maybole, originated with the 10th Earl who had commissioned Thomas White, the landscape gardener, to plan the layout of the grounds in the 1780s. White's designs included the scenic landscape that would have been encountered upon passing through the gates. Most of this landscape has now been obscured by later planting and service roads. The style of the gate must have been a matter of much consideration as there are 4 designs by John Thin, including a castellated one, in the Cassillis archive. Although designed in 1796, the gateway is unlikely to have been erected before 1809/10, as it was at this time that the 12th Earl achieved a clause in an Act of Parliament for improved Ayrshire roads permitting him to re-route the road from Glenside to Turnberry Park, to pass this point. The impact of the gate itself was severely diminished when the route to Turnberry was diverted by the County in 1817. The gates must therefore have been erected between 1810 and 1816. The scheme, as built, had a pair of lodges but these were demolished in the 1950s.

Together with the remarkable ornamental landscape of its estate, Culzean Castle is acknowledged as the epitome of the Picturesque movement in Scotland, in its own right and is a work of international importance. Culzean, at one time the largest estate in Ayrshire, has been associated with the Kennedy family since the Middle Ages. It was gifted by Gilbert the 4th Earl of Cassillis to his brother Thomas Kennedy, in 1569. In the 1660s, the barmekin around the tower house was breached to create the terraced gardens, orchards, and walled garden for which Culzean was notable, while the caves beneath the castle ' now a scheduled monument ' were fortified to serve as secure stores. Culzean Castle became the principal family seat when Sir Thomas Kennedy (1726-75) became the 9th Earl of Cassillis, in 1759. A continuing programme of improvements was undertaken by Sir Thomas and his successors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The 10th Earl began rebuilding the Castle to designs by Robert Adam. This work was continued by Archibald (1770-1846), the 12th Earl, later the 1st Marquess of Ailsa. From about 1810 onwards he commissioned numerous structures, both practical and ornamental, and several important architects and landscape designers were engaged to embellish the gardens and grounds with ponds, gates, lodges and pavilions, resulting in several key works of the Picturesque era. The 3rd Marquess undertook the modernisation and enlargement of the Castle in the 1870s. In 1945, the 5th Marquess of Ailsa divided the property, making over the Castle, and the policies immediately surrounding it, to the National Trust for Scotland.

The architect John Thin (c1765-1827), who lived in Edinburgh, is associated with William Sibbald and W H Playfair, for whom he was a draughtsman. He is known to have been involved with an unbuilt scheme of Sibbald's for a church at Falkirk and he produced several designs for gateways, with lodges, for Culzean and Saltoun Hall.

Previously listed as Gate Piers at Swinston Lodge. List description revised as part of the Culzean Castle Estate Review 2010-11.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey (1854-9) H Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 (1978). Rob Close, Ayrshire & Arran illustrated Architectural Guide (1992) pp169-172. Michael S Moss, The Magnificent Castle of Culzean & the Kennedy Family (2002). Marquess of Ailsa, Culzean Castle Drawings, (AYD 43) copies in the RCAHMS. Historic Scotland Inventory of Gardens & Designed Landscapes. National Trust for Scotland Archive. Additional information from Michael Moss, University of Glasgow and Kinlay Laidlaw, National Trust for Scotland Area Surveyor (2010).

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 27/03/2019 01:39