Bowland House and its policies are set within the upland valley landscape of the Gala Water. Bowland House is a castellated Tudor-Gothic mansion built around 1813-15 to designs by James Gillespie Graham. The parks and woodlands extend up the south-facing slope of the narrow Crosslee Burn tributary valley and are mostly enclosed by the rolling plateaux of the Moorfoot Hills. Scenically, they form a striking contrast with the surrounding heather and unimproved grassland of the uplands.
Type of Site
The form of the design, comprising a main house, parkland and woodlands, is primarily 18th century with early 19th century modification. The woodlands present one of the most scenically important components of the design. Some parkland areas remain and the site is notable for its recently restored walled garden and striking estate architecture, with the principal buildings by James Gillespie Graham (1776-1855).
Location and Setting
Bowland House and its policies are set within the upland valley landscape of the Gala Water, approximately halfway between Stow and Galashiels. The parks and woodlands extend up the south-facing slope of the narrow Crosslee Burn tributary valley and are mostly enclosed by the rolling plateaux of the Moorfoot Hills. Scenically, they form a striking contrast with the surrounding heather and unimproved grassland of the uplands. Encompassing some 119ha (294ac), the perimeter of the designed landscape is defined by an almost continuous strip of woodland mostly established during the second half of the 18th century (as depicted on historical estate plans and maps). The Gala Water and Crosslee Burn flow along the eastern and southern boundaries. The assorted buildings of Crosslee farm stand at the south-east corner, while the minor road from Bow Bridge to Blackhaugh extends along much of the northern boundary.
Bowland House is a castellated Tudor-Gothic mansion built c.1813-15 to designs by James Gillespie Graham. The main elevations are of dark whinstone, cut into brick-sized blocks with sandstone dressings. In 1890, Neo-Tudor additions were made, while the surviving portion of an earlier house was removed. Further extensions, including a 3-storey gable, were completed in 1926. Access to the estate is via the North gate and lodge, built from coursed whinstone in 1820 also to a castellated Tudor design. The remains of Bowland doocot stand immediately to the west of the house. The main structural elements of the Walled Garden, restored and partially rebuilt in the first decade of the 21st century, comprise three sides of a rubble-built enclosure wall and an exterior potting range to the north. Early 19th century estate buildings arranged around a cobbled yard stand just to the north. In Burial Ground Wood, a 3-metre high, mortared stone commemorative monument in the form of a pyramid was erected in 1912 to commemorate the burial place of two generations of Rutherfords, who had owned Bowland up until the 1750s. From the old turnpike road to Edinburgh, cylindrical stone gate-piers topped with biconic stone finials flank the entrance to the old drive. In the north-east corner of the designed landscape, the cluster of structures at Dryburn form a cohesive group of little-altered, early 19th century estate mill buildings comprising house, former threshing mill, half-piended sawmill building and dam bridge.Drives and Approaches
The main drive in use today was established by the early 1820s. Entering via the substantial north gate at Crosslee, it makes a circuitous approach, curving through fields, parkland and a woodland strip before ascending towards the house in the centre of the designed landscape. The old drive, used up until the early 19th century, and which followed a more direct route, is still readily discernible in the present landscape. Lined by impressive veteran beech trees, the grass-covered track enters a short distance north of the north gate through a surviving set of stone gatepiers. It heads south-eastwards before converging with the present drive just before its last, near-90 degree turn towards Bowland House.
Parkland extends downslope to the south and south-east of the house. There are now relatively few specimen hardwoods compared to the landscape of the 19th and early 20th century. During their visit in 1887, the members of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club observed and admired veteran oaks, beech, planes, elms and Silver firs (Hardy 1890: 60). Today, the remaining mature trees stand in small parks enclosed by mixed woodland strips. This ensures that views to and from the house retain an attractive mosaic character of green sloping parkland and trees.
The woodlands of Bowland form the most visually dominant landscape component within the designed landscape. Structurally, they are composed of an almost continuous perimeter strip around the boundary, two large conifer plantations partly fringed by deciduous trees, a number of smaller plantations around the house, and narrow strips of mature trees that follow field and park divisions and the course of the old and new drives. In general, the mixture of species within these woods, such as the beech, oak and Scots pine along the present drive, affords a richness of texture and colour that can be appreciated from vantage points throughout the local landscape of the Gala Water. Apart from the more recent, 20th-century conifer plantations at Mid Plantation and Burial Ground Wood, nearly all of the present woodland plantations follow a design established, or at least planned, by the end of the 18th century (NAS RHP 94183; NAS RHP 12649).
A semi-circular area of lawn, partly fringed by trees and shrubs but with open views towards the southern parklands, slopes down from the front of the house. This area has undergone significant modification over the last two centuries. The late 18th-century estate map depicts square, planted compartments on either side of the lawn; an arrangement that may have developed from a more formal, symmetrical design. Early OS map editions and a photograph c.1920, meanwhile, reveal the continuation of a basically rectangular shape divided by hedges, fencing and a low terrace wall, and punctuated by shrubs and conifers. Today, within the smaller and more simple garden space where views of the wider landscape prevail, a tall conifer specimen, well over a century old, and faint undulations in the neat grass of the lawn, bear physical witness to the former garden designs. Behind the house, where paths lead up into the woodland, rhododendron bushes and further conifer specimens are a sign of some woodland garden design work in the 19th century.
A project of restoration from 2002 to 2008 has created an attractive garden within the northern two-thirds of the original walled area. The site was first established c.1812 when several weeks of 'carting earth from the old garden to the new one' were carefully logged into that year's account book (NLS: MSS.13601-14195). The first edition OS map shows a traditional layout of intersecting paths that divided the sloping ground into quadrants (1853, OS 25'). The southern-most area of the walled garden, originally enclosed by a curving south wall, is no longer in use and is now grassed over. However, since the renovation project, the northern area now features well-stocked flower and vegetable beds, four intersecting lawn walks and a restored early 20th century greenhouse along the north wall. Vines, figs, greengages and nectarines grow within the shelter of this greenhouse while the fruit trees on the restored rubble walls of the garden include a range of historic Scottish apples and espalier forms.
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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:
Reason for Inclusion
The wood and parkland policies of Bowland make an outstanding scenic contribution to the local upland valley landscape. Surviving estate plans and other valuable documentary evidence from the 18th and 19th century provide significant historical value and demonstrate the enduring structural integrity of the landscape in its present form.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
The historical development of the landscape is best traced via a series of estate plans surveyed and drawn up from the later 18th century to the early 19th century. Despite several changes in ownership, this was the period when the essential structure of the present design was established. The estate plans, along with other sources of evidence, show the sequential development of the designed landscape at Bowland.
Prior to this era, there are few records of the nature of the landscape. Some accounts suggest its possible use as a hunting seat by the Bishop of St Andrews and, later, in the 17th century, its ownership by the Riddell family (Hardy 1890: 59). Documentary evidence shows the estate subsequently belonging to the well-known Border landowners, the Rutherfords, until its sale in 1752 to the Pringle family. While John Rutherford went on to seek his fortune abroad in North Carolina and named his slave-run coastal plantation 'Bowland' after his former home, the Pringles set about developing many of the key landscape features that can be identified today (NAS GD82/500).
The earliest of the detailed estate plans, which may have been prepared around the time of James Pringle's death in 1778, provides an excellent source of evidence for the structure of the landscape (NAS RHP94182-3). It shows a central house, gardens and a few estate buildings surrounded by the enclosed parks, woodlands, and perimeter woodland strip that remain so distinctive in today's landscape. A rather sad letter written by Maria Pringle after her fathers death in 1778 describes how they used to walk through the gardens admiring their trees and shrubs and perhaps hints at the interest in horticulture and garden fashion that led to this well-developed design (NAS GD113/5/64). Certainly, the estate map depicts a number of garden areas around the house and fashionable landscape features such as cross-axial vistas through the southern-most Knowes Dean Plantation.
The following century brought further changes of ownership. Mark Watt, an Edinburgh tobacconist, purchased Bowland in 1787 and remained there for just over 20 years before selling the estate c.1809 to General Alexander Walker, a distinguished explorer, writer and military figure. Although Walker's subsequent retirement at Bowland was interrupted by a promotion and five year Governorship on the island of St Helena in the 1820s, he nonetheless instigated a number of important and ambitious changes to the estate. Projects included the demolition of most of the pre-existing house, the construction of a new house, north gate, lodge, and court of offices, the creation of a new entrance drive and the relocation of the walled garden to its present site along with more general maintenance and planting work around the estate. Pencil sketches of prospective alterations on an 1807 estate map, surviving receipts, estimates and correspondence, and a complete set of meticulous farm account books document something of the planning, expense and labour involved in the improvement projects (NLS MSS.13601-14195). In 1827, another water-coloured estate map was drawn up; a further excellent source of cartographic information for the development of the designed landscape during this period (NAS RHP12656).
Subsequent owners at Bowland did not embark on any similarly major landscape design work. Walker's son, who inherited in 1831, resided mainly in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, succeeding generations of the Ramsay family, who first acquired the estate in the later 19th century, focused their efforts and expenditure on the house. By this time, the original woods and specimen plantings of the preceding century had reached an attractive maturity and were praised in tourist guides of the era and by visiting members of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club (Hardy 1890).
During the Second World War, Bowland became a refuge for evacuated nursery children from Edinburgh. By the 1980s, when some elements of the estate had been long in decline, Bowland was up for sale again. Leon Litchfield presently owns the designed landscape, now contained within a much larger agricultural estate. Despite the loss of many parkland trees during the 20th century, much of the 18th to 19th-century structure continues to endure. Most recently, a renovation project in the walled garden has created a functioning, well-stocked and colourful garden.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Domestic / Residential