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Callendar Park


Callendar Park lies on the east side of Falkirk town centre. The landscape is largely inward looking although now surrounded by built development. One of the larger areas of open parkland to the north-west of the house and stables is now occupied by the 1960s high rise flats. Many trees surviving in this area were probably woodland trees selectively left to grow as parkland specimens. Other features include a walled garden, water features and an arboretum.

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:

Type of Site

A large 18th and 19th century informal parkland landscape, now largely a public park for the town of Falkirk.

Location and Setting

Callendar Park lies on the east side of Falkirk town centre, between the A803 and the Union Canal. Parts of the park are visible from the east end of Falkirk High Street, but its northern edge, including the Antonine Wall, provides the main impact along Callendar Road (A803). The physical setting of house and designed landscape is given a distinctive character by the presence of glacial eskers and raised beaches to the north of the house.

The landscape is largely inward looking although now surrounded by built development. To the north and west, the park provides the setting for high and low rise residential development, the former taking advantage of expansive views over the park. Views into the park from the south are obscured by Callendar Wood which forms an important backdrop to the Hallgreen area. The park is also visible from the Edinburgh'Glasgow railway line.

The significant axial view into the site from the A803 breaks through the Antonine Wall and provides views out of the site to the countryside and the Ochils. The latter view has been compromised by ill-considered birch planting, while the view south has been obscured by tree overgrowth. There are important views into the landscape from Kemper Avenue on the north-west side of the landscape.

Blaeu's atlas, 1654, indicates a Callendar Castle and shows woodland to the south. There is no indication of a park pale which is somewhat surprising, but the woodland appears to be extensive and between two rivers or burns which may have acted as boundaries. The landscape is more clearly defined on General Roy's Military Survey, 1747'55, and on a closely corresponding 1781 survey plan by John Horne. Both surveys indicate that the estate boundaries remain roughly similar today apart from encroachment by the town of Falkirk outwith the park wall to the north, to the north-west within the park and to the north-east by the railway line.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Callendar House dates from the late 14th to the late 19th century. The architectural character is French chateau-style following a thorough remodeling between 1869'77. The Offices and Stables lie north-west of the house and date from the mid 18th century or later. They comprise a courtyard of two-storey 'offices' with an early 19th-century cart shed at the south- west and a contemporary block with segmental arches and a crenellated doocot tower at the north-west. A single-storey stable was added at a later date. Other buildings include the single-storey Factor's House to the north. This is two storeys to the rear, the whole being embellished with pointed oriental-type crenellation. The Forbes Mausoleum, designed by Archibald Elliot, is a simple rectangular drum cella with peristyle of 12 Doric Greek columns. The mausoleum is centred on a circular enclosure with stone wall and ditch. Glenbrae (Shielhill or West Lodge) is c.1835, single-storey, with stugged ashlar front. It has panelled gate-piers. This is the only remaining lodge on the Callendar estate. The Ice-house is built into a bank north-east of Callendar House. It has a pedimented ashlar doorway. The East Burn Dry or Cascade Bridge is early 19th century, probably by David Hamilton, and supersedes an earlier 18th century bridge. The stone balustraded parapet has been removed and replaced with a tubular metal rail. A small segmental arched Bridge to the south of the house over the now dried-up canal is probably 18th century. The Sundial, dated 1677 and no longer on the site, was in the Summerhouse, of which only the stonework base and foundations remain. The summerhouse stood on the south axis of the house. The Walled Garden, north-east of Callendar House, was built in the 1790s. The garden has stone walls and entrance pillars with large ball finials. This entrance has been widened for modern use. A disused north entrance is built of dressed stone blocks with large cap-stones. There were probably finials, but these have not survived. The cast-iron gates are later. Funerary monuments in Callendar House Graveyard now lie in pieces, having been vandalised. The Refreshment Kiosk, Toilets and surrounding paving by the west drive were built around the 1970s. The fenced Play Area is more recent. Seaton Place Tower Blocks, built in the north- west corner of the parkland, are an example of the modernist trend of building in mature landscapes, inspired by Le Corbusier, which began in Britain with the Alton Estate in Roehampton in the early 1960s. The estate is partly enclosed by a Stone Wall which has been breached in several places by recent development.

Drives and Approaches

There is a complex hierarchy of drives which has changed over the years. Most of the old approaches have been compromised. However, the internal network of paths and drives remains well defined. The north approach, breaching the Antonine Wall, is a long-standing feature evident on Roy's Military Survey, 1747'55. Banks on either side of this old drive are planted with sycamore, now probably around 200'250 years old. A c.1790 plan shows that there was a west branch from the drive which ran alongside the Antonine Wall and terminated in a roundel and lodge which are no longer extant. A footpath follows this line today. The present north-west drive, west of this and closer to Falkirk, is now the main vehicular access to the park and serves the five high rise tower blocks, teashop, car park and Callendar Park House. Remnants of park planting survive between the main car park and its junction with Cascade Bridge and along the remainder of the north-west drive. There are some beeches and lime, including a narrow avenue of limes, between the teashop and the car park. On the north side, there are limes about 125'150 years old. With the building of new drives after 1790, the north drive was retained as a highly significant vista from the house.

The east drive close to the house is also old. It appears planted as an avenue by 1781, by which time it led east and south-east to the park boundary and to what is later noted as Lochbank Gate. By 1790, two sinuous drives had been taken off the east drive close to the Lochbank Gate entrance. One wound its way to a new north-east park entrance; the other, possibly more of a pleasure drive, followed a curving line along the south perimeter of the woodland around Henry's Hill to cross over Cascade Bridge and approached the house from the west. By 1816, a branch led off the south drive to the mausoleum, while other branches beyond led north through the woodland to the house.

Following the building of the Stirlingshire Midland Junction Railway in the mid 19th century, the north-east entrance was moved westwards. A new lodge was built adjacent to Callendar Road and a new section of drive formed close to the east side of the walled garden and then reconnected with the lower section of the original drive. Recently, the north-east approach has been cut off by the development of Callendar Park Business Park and the lodge demolished, but part of the drive still remains within the park and is planted with lime. There are large gaps due to wind blow and the crowns have been reduced to prevent further losses. These trees are about 140'170 years old.

With the formation of a new west entrance at Shielhill Lodge by 1818, and the introduction of a new short section of drive which linked to the south drive, a more direct east'west drive through the policies was achieved. Today, the west lodge (formerly Shielhill Lodge, now Glenbrae Lodge) has been severed from the remainder of the policies by 20th-century housing in the north-west corner of the park. The drive over Cascade Bridge now leads to Kemper Avenue and through the housing estate before terminating in a new access north of the west lodge.


One of the larger areas of open parkland to the north-west of the house and stables is now occupied by the 1960s high rise flats. Many trees surviving in this area were probably woodland trees selectively left to grow as parkland specimens. The parkland character extends to the lawn on the north front of the house, which is framed by the planted eskers. Some large tree stumps remain to the north-east. A municipal golf course has overtaken parkland to the south-west.


Callendar Wood occupies the southern half of the policies. The wood is managed for forestry but mixed with areas of broadleaves of long plantation origin. As early as 1707, Sir Robert Sibbald refers to Callendar: 'a large wood adjacent to it, walks cut through it and fish ponds near the house'. The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, refers to the '250 acres of coppice, mostly oak upon ground rising gently to the south...'. There are substantial remains of the oak coppice still in the wood. The wood is a Listed Scottish Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Site, and is in the Falkirk Rural Area Local Plan. The east'west south pleasure drive cuts directly across the wood and remains in good order.

Water Features

The canal which forms an important feature of the designed landscape was originally a burn that was widened and the lake, now known as Callendar Loch, was made later on the eastern side. The lake is first evident in its present form on the 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6in), 1862. The rather ugly boating pond was added in 1971 and is separated from the loch by a berm. The south-east part of the loch is managed for nature conservation. A pipe carries the overflow from the loch along the 'canal'. The burn was also enlarged at the western end to form a pond which is no longer extant.

The Gardens

There are few early references to a garden around the house. The north lawn appears always to have been a grass lawn which has changed shape over the years from circular to oval, but has always covered roughly the same area. A shallow terrace runs along the north front of the house with central steps leading to the north lawn. The steps were added when the house was extended in the 19th century.

The south lawn is smaller but runs the length of the house and is bounded by the dry canal to the south. It was divided by paths and once had a central fountain. The pathways are now grassed over.

Walled Garden

The walled garden is now occupied by the Callendar Business Park and divorced from Callendar Park. The 1948 RAF oblique aerial photographs show that the garden was divided into eight quarters by paths, the layout indicated on the c.1790 plan. A gardeners' bothy remains on the north wall and a well in the south-east corner.


The shrubberies and arboretum south of the 'canal' form an extension to the garden south of the house. The area lies on rising ground and was created out of part of the extensive Callendar Wood. There have been plantings of exotic trees at different times with an understorey of Rhododendron and other shrubs. The framework is mainly oak and Scots pine. Old yew and holly make a strong feature along the northern edge and similarly several Western red cedar along the eastern edge.

There was much new planting here in the 1970s, including native and exotic species, in the form of the George Forrest Collection. Some of 40 plants listed include Rhododendron (Rhododendron trichostomum, Rhododendron decorum), maple (Acer forrestii), Pieris (Pieris forrestii 'Wakehurst'), Fragrant olive (Osmanthus yunnanensis), Butterfly bush (Buddleia fallowiana), and Daphne (Daphne odora).

The focal point of the arboretum was the summerhouse of which only the foundations remain. A network of grass paths still leads from this into the shrubbery/arboretum.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

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

A large 18th and 19th century informal parkland landscape, with a long and complex history dating from the construction of the Antonine Wall in 142 AD. Callendar Park is a well- preserved designed landscape in an area of great urban pressure, and is now largely a public park for the town of Falkirk.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Callendar Park has a long and complex history dating from the construction of the Antonine Wall in 142 AD. There has been an estate on the site since the 12th century, with continuous development from that time, notably in the 16th, 17th, late 18th and mid 19th centuries. The mid 20th century marks a change to public park use and the most recent development phase.

Site History

The long history of development within the designed landscape at Callendar Park begins with the building of the Antonine Wall in 142 AD. Thereafter, the site of the original 12th/13th century Thanes Hall is believed to have stood in Palace Park Hill to the south-east of the walled garden and possibly marks the beginning of policy enclosure.

In 1345, the estate was given by David II to William de Livingstone, who married Christian, daughter of Patrick Callendar. In the 15th century, Sir Alexander Livingstone was 'Keeper of the King's Person' for nine-year-old James II and, during the 1440s, was regarded as the most powerful man in Scotland. The Livingstone family was to have a 200-year association with the Royal family. Mary Queen of Scots is known to have visited Callendar House, then a moated tower house, on several occasions. The present, dried-up canal may be part of the moat system. James Livingstone (d. 1674) was created 1st Earl of Callendar in 1641 and was a general in the Scots army. In 1682, his successor, Michael Livingstone, wrote the poem 'Patronus Redux'. This refers to the garden with 'flowerie walks and laughing meads' and 'fruit trees', suggesting recent improvements to the landscape including the breaching of the Roman wall to create a vista to the north.

James Livingstone, 4th Earl of Callendar, was forced to forfeit the estate following the 1715 uprising and fled to Italy. The property and land were sold to the York Building Co. in 1720, then leased in 1724 by the 4th Earl's heiress, Lady Anne Callendar, who married the Earl of Kilmarnock. The landscape illustrated on General Roy's Military Survey, 1747'55, may date to Lady Anne's period or to late 17th-century improvements. Roy's Survey shows the north' south axial vista through the estate. In later years, the southern vista was to be closed by a woodland block.

Following the folding of the York Building Company, the estate was auctioned in 1783 and bought by William Forbes, a London merchant related to the Aberdeenshire Forbes family. There was great activity in garden and park at this time. One hundred workmen were employed to work on the grounds under the directions of the London-based William and Samuel Driver, nurserymen, Kent Road, Southwark. Records show large orders placed with the Coades Manufactory (artificial stone) for items such as pineapples, vases and seats. A new walled garden, indicated on a plan of c.1790 and possibly by Drivers Brothers, was built to the north-east of the house. This is now the site of the Callendar Business Park and superseded an earlier walled garden, no longer extant, to the north-west beside the stables. The 1790 plan also indicates that the moat or canal to the south of the house was extended to the east, terminating in a new lake or 'a piece of water'. The parkland was laid out in the 'natural' style of the period and other improvements were undertaken, including a network of drives and the formation of a cascade and bridge over the canal.

The Old Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791, records: 'numerous fine trees in Callendar Park, together with the wood belonging to the same place, add much to the pleasantness of the town of Falkirk.' It also notes agricultural improvements carried out by William Forbes.

In 1822, the Union Canal was built just to the south of the designed landscape, beyond the park wall. This was a change to a proposed deviation by the canal company which would have cut through the south policy woodland. The potential damage caused thereby is illustrated in a contemporary drawing by the artist Alexander Nasmyth.

By the time of the 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6in), 1862, the Stirlingshire Midland Junction Railway had cut across the eastern side of the park, stranding the old East Lodge outside the policies. A new north-east link drive was then added, leading from Callendar Road on the east side of the walled garden. With the development of the railway, greater emphasis was laid on the west and north-west approach and as a result the canal was extended and broadened into a pool beyond Cascade Bridge and the bridge replaced. William Forbes died in 1815 and his mausoleum between the east and south drive was completed in 1816. He was succeeded by his eldest son, William, who married Lady Louisa Wemyss.

The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, describes Callendar Park as comprising '250 acres of coppice-wood, mostly oak, upon ground rising gently to the south ' the lawn is ornamented with trees of great size, and supposed to have been planted by the Earl of Callendar on his return from exile ... hedges of oak, elm, beech trees have been planted by Mr Forbes'.

William died in 1855 and was succeeded by his son, also William, who began 15 years of improvements to the house and grounds. This work included the creation of new gardens south of the house, beyond the 'canal', as shown on the 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6in), 1862, and an axial walk re-opening the south vista indicated on General Roy's Survey, 1747'55.

By the time of the 2nd edition OS 1:10560 (6in), 1899, the pace of landscape change had slowed down and the town of Falkirk was expanding with development onto the parks to the north-west, beyond the park wall. This century, significant changes have taken place to the designed landscape within the north-west section of the park. Woodland has been lost and the area has been built upon. The high rise blocks to the north-west of Callendar House have had greatest impact upon the approach from the north-west and on the general setting of the park.


18th Century (1701 to 1800)

Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland

Key Information





Principal Building

Parks, Gardens And Urban Spaces


18th Century (1701 to 1800)





Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland