Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
South Ayrshire
Planning Authority
South Ayrshire
NS 22464 9511
222464, 609511


Late 18th ' late 19th century; later additions. Outstanding grouping of estate ancillaries for rearing and housing water fowl.

SWAN POND: Thomas White and Thomas White (junior), 1790 and 1816, refurbished 1903. Irregularly-shaped artificial pond of 13 acres (0.05 km sq). Bridge over inflow burn at southernmost tip. Outflow sluice at NW corner. Artificial island with geese house, approached by causeway stones, near SW bank. Retaining wall with parapet and broad steps at SE bank.

RETAINING WALL AND BOAT STEPS: 1903. Low curved wall, with square piers flanking boat steps into pond, surmounted by urns standing on square pedestals. Cement rendered concrete construction.

SWAN POND BRIDGE: Robert Lugar (attributed), circa 1816. Single flat arched footbridge, with vermiculated voussoirs, to S of pond. Low rubble parapet with lime harl and slab coping. Ashlar dressings. Flagstone pavement.

SWAN COTTAGE: Robert Lugar, 1816. Single and 2-storey ornamental estate cottage, flattened octagonal courtyard-plan in Cottage Ornée style. 2-storey octagonal core with pyramidal slate roof. Open-sided pro-style porch with pitched roof, with Tudor arch opening on NE and pointed arches to sides. Verandas, on square timber columns, flanking porch, terminated by pavilions with arched open fronts. Single storey wings splayed back to enclose courtyard to SW. Rubble construction, in Cotswold manner, with ashlar dressings. Porch of tooled ashlar. First floor windows: timber framed casement type, having double pointed arch motif astragals, set in square apertures, with roll moulded surrounds. Timber framed ground floor windows to N, in apertures of biforate pointed arches with columnar stone mullions. Double casement timber-framed windows with diagonal glazing bars to side and rear of cottage. Ashlar chimney stack of 2 diagonally set square shafts. INTERIOR (seen 2010): ground floor of cottage, now a shop, with late 20th century plasterboard walls, plain cornices and ceramic tile floor. NW wing contains stores and scullery for shop, original roof beams still evident. SE wing arranged as open plan dwelling supplemented by octagonal room, with coombed ceiling in upper storey, accessed by steep narrow staircase.

AVIARY: Robert Lugar, 1820. Single storey, 12-bay, rectangular-plan, hybrid Gothick-classical style aviary building, forming range to SW of Swan Cottage courtyard. SW elevation articulated by Doric pilasters, fenestrated by glazed timber ogee arcade. Rubble construction with ashlar front to SW. Pitched slate roofs to pavilions. Plain rear (NE) to courtyard with simple timber door. INTERIOR (seen 2010): corridor on SW and cages of timber and mesh on NE. Public lavatories installed in end pavilions.

GEESE HOUSE: 3rd Marquess of Ailsa (attributed), 1882. Low single storey, octagonal plan, with octagonal central court containing a tree. 3 pointed arch apertures to 7 sides, with 2 square apertures to 1 side. Brick contruction with ashlar facing. Sloping slate roof.

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 Swan Pond, together with its associated buildings and structures, is of national importance as part of an outstanding ornamental landscape. The epitome of fashion when built, the buildings reflect Regency taste in Gothick, Classical and Chinoiserie, and the survival of the complete group is extremely uncommon, although the Pagoda is largely reconstructed.

The Swan Pond was originally designed for the 10th Earl of Cassillis by the landscape designer Thomas White of Retford as a habitat for wild and domestic fowl. It was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged to take in the whole of the old Cow Park, for the 12th Earl, who later became the 1st Marquess of Ailsa, probably with the advice of White's son, during 1814-16. Swan Cottage, a dwelling with poultry houses in its wings, was built at the time of the enlargement of the pond, to designs by Robert Lugar. It appears as 'Pheasantry at Cullain' in Lugar's book, Plans and Views of Ornamental Domestic Dwellings, and thus must have been designed before the publication of the book, in 1811. The published plan demonstrates Lugar's strict geometrical control of elements arranged around an octagonal court. The executed building has an additional floor, providing the cottage with an upstairs bedroom. The open-fronted pavilions in the veranda of the cottage were probably intended as places for plucking fowl. The Aviary, which completes the courtyard with a W range, is larger than the published version and was not completed until about 1820. Survey drawings made by Ian G Lindsay, circa 1950, reveal that the arcade on the west elevation was a framework for wire mesh, prior to being glazed. A photograph, dated 1959, at the RCAHMS, shows the cottage with a different chimney stack, it having been altered during stonework repairs of 1990-91. The Culzean estate benefits from several buildings attributable to Lugar, including the Pagoda, Hoolity Ha' and the Powder House, however, his other octagonal cottages, erected as gate lodges at Pennyglen, Glenside and Morriston, were demolished in the 1950s to facilitate road widening. Lugar may also have been responsible for designing the footbridge that crosses the burn at the southernmost tip of the pond. An associated icehouse is located to the south east of the pond (see separate listing). The 3rd Marquess of Ailsa had the house for geese and swans built on an island at the west end of the pond, possibly to his own design, in the 1880s, continuing the octagonal theme of Swan Cottage and the Pagoda, - a version on a square plan was also drafted - and he was responsible for refurbishing the pond with the retaining wall and Boat Steps in 1900-3.

Together with the outstanding 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 (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.

Thomas White (1736-1811) was a pupil of the landscape architect Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, the influential advocate of the naturalistic designed parkland. White started up in practice on his own account in County Durham, advising country gentlemen on estate improvement. He made frequent visits to Scotland from about 1770 and was involved with the landscape design of numerous estates there, including the grounds of Airthrey, now the University of Stirling campus, Buchanan Castle, Champfleurie and Scone Palace, as well as Culzean. His son Thomas (1764-1836) continued the practice after his father's death, including further work at Culzean.

Robert Lugar (1773-1855) was a successful architect to the gentry during the Picturesque era, specialising in Gothick and Cottages Orne idioms. He designed a number of castles and mansions and many estate buildings, frequently making humble buildings such as cottages and kennels into ornamental landscape features. His works include Balloch (now Ardoch) Castle (1809) and Tullichewan Castle (1808), both in Dunbartonshire and in the castellated style. His published works helped to spread the Cottage Ornée style across the British Isles. Several buildings at Culzean were either especially designed by him or drew on his published designs: Swan Cottage, Hoolity Ha' Lodge and bridge, and probably Swan Pond Bridge and the Pagoda, as well as the 3 lodges, which were demolished in the 1950s. Lugar also designed lodges and other buildings for the 1st Marquess of Ailsa at St Margaret's, Twickenham and Isleworth in the same period.

Swan Cottage and Aviary was previously listed as 'Aviaries and Swan Cottage'. Listing revised as part of the Culzean Castle Estate Review 2010-11.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey (1854-9). Robert Lugar, Plans and Views of Buildings Executed in England and Scotland in the Castellated and Other Styles (1811) p29, plXXI. Historic Scotland Inventory of Gardens & Designed Landscapes (included 1987). H Colvin A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 (1978). Michael S Moss, The Magnificent Castle of Culzean & the Kennedy Family (2002). pp116-118. Ian G Lindsay Collection, Aviary drawings: IGL W343/4/11, at RCAHMS. RCAHMS photograph collection: Swan Cottage (AY 1397/29); Swan Pond Group with Pagoda 1885 (AY 4286). Marquess of Ailsa Culzean Castle Drawings, copies at the RCAHMS: Geese House (AYD 43/136); Boat Steps 1901 (AYD 43/140); Cottage & Aviary (AYD 43/108 ); Channel for Pond 1800 (AYD 43/84). Additional information from Michael Moss, University of Glasgow and Kinlay Laidlaw, National Trust for Scotland Area Surveyor (2010).

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