Aberuchill Castle 28

Comrie, Scotland

Brief Description

The designed landscape at Aberuchill was laid out in the 19th century and has remained similar in layout since then. There is well-preserved parkland, a lime avenue with trees from an earlier layout, a shrubbery and a terraced walled garden. The structure of an early-20th-century rock garden survives on the banks of the Aberuchill Burn in the policies.

History

Sir David Dundas is thought to have planted boundary hedges and many parkland trees from 1858. In 1864 Sir George Dewhurst bought the property and greatly developed the gardens. The Dewhurst family created the rockery from 1918 to 1921. The house was sold out of the Dewhurst family in the 1980s.

Detailed Description

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Type of Site

A distinctive parkland landscape with specimen trees, clumps and policy woodlands with later additions of walks around the walled garden and shrubbery past burn, waterfall, rock slabs and rustic style bridge to a 20th century rock garden.

Location and Setting

Aberuchill Castle is set above a secluded valley in the Aberuchill Hills above Strathearn and 1.5 miles (2.5km) west of Comrie. The site is bounded by the foothills of Mor Bheinn 2,100' (640m) and Ben Halton 2,034' (620m) to the west and south, by policy woodlands to the east, and by a minor road linking with the A85 to Comrie to the north. The Castle lies within the River Earn National Scenic Area and has extensive views eastwards over Strathearn. The surrounding hills provide a beautiful setting for the Castle. The policy woodlands are visible from the roads to the north but the Castle itself is very much secluded from view.

The Castle is set on a high terrace facing northwards across the park; it lies above the Aberuchill Burn which flows through the policies to join the River Earn to the north. General Roy's map of 1750 shows a small area of planted land enclosing the Castle, but no designed landscape at that date. By the 1st edition OS of 1866, the parkland was laid out in the form that remains today, with a distinctively large number of small clumps of trees in the parks. These are shown in early photographs of the estate but some of the roundels have since been lost. There are no design or estate plans at Aberuchill Castle today to give evidence of the designers involved. There are 779 acres (315ha) in the designed landscape.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Aberuchill Castle, listed A, has an original late 16th century tower, with angle-turrets on the south-west, south-east and north-east corners, with additions of an east wing in 1806 and a west wing in 1874. The south front porch was added in 1869. The walled garden to the south-west of the Castle is listed C and has a sundial mounted above a gate arch. There are also some interesting estate cottages and stables to the south-east of the Castle.

Parkland

The parks extend all round the Castle where the land is sufficiently flat and low-lying. The hillsides rise steeply up from the parkland and are clothed on their lower slopes with attractively planted policy woodlands. There are still many individual parkland trees and a few of the many clumps survive; varieties include oak, lime, sycamore, larch and elm. There is a broad lime avenue extending eastwards from the Castle which contains some trees which appear to date back to c.1750 although the avenue itself does not feature on Roy's map. The north-east drive curves past the east end of the avenue and on up to the Castle; it affords glimpses of the Castle along the approach. The drives are planted alongside with daffodils and the roadside edges of the park are lined with beech hedges.

Woodland

The policy woodlands are composed of a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees planted with sensitivity to the landform and to their effect on the landscape. Ross Wood to the east of the Castle is now mainly coniferous and all the woods are managed commercially and used for pheasant rearing. There are some areas of older oak woods and other varieties include beech, sycamore, Scots pine and larch.

The Gardens

George Dewhurst had many paths made within the policies, particularly around the walled garden and shrubbery area. A walk is shown on the 1866 map leading up the valley of the Aberuchill Burn. An attractive waterfall in the burn flows over the green metamorphosed rock slabs of the river-bed, and the burn is crossed by a rustic- style bridge which is now in disrepair. There are many young birch in the glen but some of the older trees have suffered from wind- blow. Near the rustic bridge is the Rock Garden which, despite not having been managed for several years, still retains some interesting plants and its structure is intact.

A path leads from the Rock Garden to the Shrubbery around the walled garden, where the bank is covered with open lawn planted up with ornamental shrubs and trees, including the handkerchief tree Davidia involucrata, the cut-leaf Japanese maple Acer palmatumdissectum, magnolias and a young tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera. There are some older yew trees near the walled garden.

Walled Garden

There are some interesting wrought-iron gates leading to the garden; the east gate was brought from Italy in 1910. An old sundial is mounted above the gate arch. Within the garden there are still box-edged beds, well trimmed grassed borders and gravel paths. At one time it was planted entirely as an ornamental garden and it contained some rare plants including some Himalayan blue poppies Meconposis propagated by the Dewhursts from seed brought back from Himalayan expeditions in the 1920s. The herbaceous borders were laid out in scroll bedding, and some areas were designed in a paisley pattern. There are some old yew remaining in the centre of the garden and rose beds extend along the north/south path. The garden is now mainly planted up with fruit and vegetables. A new glasshouse within the garden has replaced the old range which included an alpine house.

Features
  • Gate
  • Description: Interesting wrought-iron gates to the walled garden.
  • Avenue
  • Description: Lime avenue.
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The 19th-century house incorporates a 16th-century tower.
  • Rockery
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Sundial, Shrubbery
History

Detailed History

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/hes/web/f?p=PORTAL:DESIGNATIONS:0

Reason for Inclusion

A 19th century designed landscape with historical connections to the Scottish plant hunters. The parkland and woodland makes a major contribution to the surrounding scenery and provides the setting for a category A listed building.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mainly mid-19th-century (c1812) with remnants from the mid-18th-century and additions and improvements in the early 20th century (1918-21)

Site History

The designed landscape at Aberuchill was laid out in the 19th century and has remained similar in layout since then. The rock garden was put in by the Dewhurst family between 1918-21.

The lands of Aberuchill were granted in 1596 to a son of Sir Colin Campbell of Lawers who built the oldest part of the Castle by 1602. The estate was next acquired by Sir James Drummond in 1642 whose descendants carried out some improvements to the house. Aberuchill stayed in the Drummond family's ownership until 1858 when it was sold to Sir David Dundas of Dunira who is thought to have been responsible for planting the boundary hedges and many of the parkland trees. In 1864, he sold Aberuchill to Sir George Dewhurst who added the west wing and greatly embellished the gardens. His descendants remained at Aberuchill until the 1980s when the estate was sold to the present owner.

Period

  • Victorian (1837-1901)
Contact
References

References