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Carolside And Leadervale


The linked parkland policies of Carolside and Leadervale make an outstanding scenic contribution to the Leader valley landscape. The river itself is an important resource for nature conservation, while the unusual oval walled garden at Carolside contains an impressive and long-established collection of historic roses.

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 well-preserved late 18th to early 19th-century picturesque landscape comprising two main houses with associated bridge, walled gardens, lodges and drives. The houses are set within a continuous stretch of attractive parkland framed by thick belts of mixed woodlands.

Location and Setting

Located in the valley of the Leader water to the north-west of Earlston, the designed landscape comprises the policies of both Carolside house and Leadervale house. Linked by an ornate bridge, the core parkland policies extend along the flats of the meandering river and are contained by the steep, wooded flank of Huntshaw Hill to the east and the fields and long woodland strips that rise up towards Kedslie to the west. There are long and open views up and down the valley, which continues to form an important corridor of communication through this part of the Scottish Borders. The designed landscape of Carolside and Leadervale encompasses some 148ha (366ac) and attained its present form and extent by the mid 19th century. It includes the lower valley sides as far as the outer edge of Kedslie Glen wood to the north, the outer edge of Carolsidehill Wood to the east, and the minor road leading from Kedslie to Clackmae Dean to the west.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Carolside House is a late 18th-century, 3-storey Georgian mansion flanked by two single-storey, bow-fronted wings. Set within a sharp curve of the Leader water, the central portion was possibly built to a design inspired by Isaac Ware's Chesterfield House in London (Cruft et. al. 2006: 152). Earlier 19th century additions include the wings (probably c.1806), sizeable entrance porch and basement balustrade (probably c.1835), while the 3-storey harled block extending from the rear elevation was mainly built in 1936. To the north west, the rubble-built walled garden has a highly unusual oval form with a straight north wall to accommodate a glasshouse on the inside, and potting range on the outside. This potting range, which was given a symmetrical façade and centre pediment in the early 20th century, faces the stables, dated c.late 18th century and built from rubble with sandstone dressings. The original west drive at Carolside leads over a picturesque, single-arched bridge over the Leader Water, constructed in the late 18th century to a design plausibly attributed to Alexander Stevens senior. Just below, on the northern bank, is the remaining facade of a Gothick-style structure, most likely a grotto. The late 18th-century West Lodge, also built to Gothick style with bowed south front and pointed doors, stands at the former entrance to Carolside on the minor Kedslie to Clackmae Mains road (Cruft et. al. 2006: 153).

Leadervale House, on the other side of the river from Carolside, is a harled-rubble Regency villa comprising a piend-roofed square structure on a raised basement with bowed east and west elevations. On the southern façade, a wide fan-shaped flight of steps leads to a bowed Ionic portico. The house displays some architectural similarities to additions on the Carolside mansion (balustrades and the oval hall), which suggest the same architect (Cruft et. al. 2006: 490). A roughly square walled garden with rounded corners lies to the south-east while a possibly early to mid-19th-century lodge with projecting finialled gable stands just to the north of the main entrance to the Leadervale policies (Cruft et. al. 2006: 490).

Drives and Approaches

The original principal drive to Carolside House was established c.1795 when James Hume wrote to a fellow landowner, 'Since I have been accommodated with a piece of ground by my neighbour'I am forming a road to my bridge' (NAS GD113/5/443/144). It entered from the west and snaked down the hill towards the picturesque, late 18th century stone bridge. The design sequence of enclosing woodland, followed by sudden arrival onto the bridge probably served to emphasise the impressive visual impact of the mansion in its attractive parkland setting, and at the time of writing, there are plans to replant policy woodland either side of the surviving track. At the top of the hill, the entrance to this drive is flanked by the late 18th century west lodge. Two sentinel Wellintonia in the lodge garden were planted on the occasion of one of Queen Victoria's jubilees in the late 19th century (Crighton 2010). Foundations of large gate pillars remain detectable just below ground, while smaller gatepiers from a former side gate now stand within the Carolside garden (Crighton 2010).

Today, the main drive to Carolside, probably established c.1835, enters from the A68 to the east. While no trace remains of the small 19th-century entrance lodge, which was removed in the second half of the 20th century, the trajectory itself remains unaltered as the drive sweeps down the slope, offering magnificent views of the house, river and parks before a fork in the approach branches towards the north to the Leader cottages, and south to Carolside House. The shorter main drive to Leadervale, meanwhile, descends towards the house past the lodge on the minor road that leads east from Clackmae.


The parkland around Carolside is in excellent condition and specimen trees include oak, beech, birch, sweet chestnut and Douglas Fir. Some of the oldest parkland trees are the chestnuts and oaks, with many appearing to be over 200 years old. The present owners are carrying out a regular renewal programme, and recent plantings include cedar of Lebanon, Wellingtonia, the handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), and different types of lime. There are also a few young weeping willows by the River Leader. The parkland around Leadervale House is also in good condition and includes beech, oak, lime, horse chestnut and cedar. Although under separate ownerships, the two core policy areas effectively merge together and visually, form a continuous parkland landscape along the valley of the Leader.


Extensive woodlands planted from the start of the 19th century onwards serve to shelter and frame the valley parkland landscape while the variety of trees present adds texture and colour. To the east, Carolesidehill Wood is mainly beech, oak, larch, silver birch and spruce with some Scots Pine and Douglas Fir. Near the river, the woodland to the west of the park includes beech, birch, lime, larch and whitebeam. Higher up the hill there are more conifers including spruce and fir. A dense conifer plantation by the old Carolside drive to the southwest of the house was in the process of being felled at the time of writing. In the field to the northwest of Carolside House, there are three specimen oaks and a large roundel of mainly spruce.

The Gardens

At Carolside, the lawn immediately to the west of the house contains some shrub beds and an old yew tree. To the north lies an orchard. Created sometime in the second half of the 20th century, the orchard was planted on the site of a former sinuous lawn walk through flower beds, photographed in 1957. More recently, the present owners have created a sequence of secluded garden areas and walks to the east of the walled garden. Enclosed by the curving stone wall of the walled garden, and high beech and yew hedging, these areas include a hosta walk, a herb garden and further rose garden with a large central oval bed that mirrors the unusual form of the neighbouring walled garden. At Leadervale, narrow lawn terraces linked by steps and partly secluded by beech hedging descend to the west of the house and feature a range of flowers and shrubs. To the south, the lawn was extended c.2000 and planted with a selection of colourful ornamental trees around its borders.

Walled Garden

The distinctive oval walled garden at Carolside first appears on an 1826 estate survey (NAS RHP1206). It now contains one of Scotland's finest English garden style plantings. The impressive collection of different rose cultivars, commented upon as early as 1917, remains in place and has been further developed and added to by the present owners (The Border Magazine 1917: 66). The traditional internal layout of four equal quadrants, which was depicted on the 1826 survey and subsequent Ordnance Survey editions, is maintained and there are many notable planting combinations. Low box hedging lines the perimeter path and the attractive rose beds in front of the glasshouse. Some fruits and vegetables are cultivated, while there are several sturdy veteran apple espaliers on the curving internal wall. At Leadervale, the present owners have undertaken some restoration work on the walled garden, which was also first depicted on the 1826 map. Partly laid to grass and well-maintained, the internal area also contains some beds for kitchen vegetable produce.

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

The linked parkland policies of Carolside and Leadervale make an outstanding scenic contribution to the Leader valley landscape. The river itself is an important resource for nature conservation, while the unusual oval walled garden at Carolside contains an impressive and long-established collection of historic roses.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

c.1790s to 1840

Site History

The name Carolside is of some interest to place-name historians with the first element deriving from the previously unknown Old/Middle English word 'carel' (Hough 2000). Documentary references to the late medieval estate occur from the 15th century, and 'Carollsyde' is seen on Blaeu's map of 1654 as an enclosed and wooded park associated with what could be a traditional Border tower. Names linked to the land include the Homes in the 16th and 17th century, Alexander Monro (primus), the Edinburgh anatomist, and then the Lauders in the 18th century. While the form of the earlier house remains unknown, Roy's Military Survey of 1747-55 at least gives some indication of the associated grounds, depicting a house at the centre of a tight, formal plan, flanked by two rectangular parterres or walled enclosures. Some woodland is shown on the steeper valley sides of the Leader Water (Roy 1747-55).

The origins of the present designed landscape, however, can be traced to the final decades of the 18th century and the arrival of two prominent men from across the Atlantic. The estate of Carolside was acquired by James Hume (1747-1839), who served as Attorney General of Georgia, and later Lord Chief Justice of East Florida, while Leadervale is thought to have been built for his uncle, Sir James Wright (1712-1785), the last Royal Governor of Georgia. Both men achieved worldly success and political importance in Colonial America, but both were obliged to return to Britain as the revolutionary era intensified. The precise chronology and circumstances of their arrival are as yet unclear* but it seems likely that Hume was able to gift a plot on the Carolside estate to his older colonial associate and relative sometime in the 1770s or 1780s (Dawson 1998).

With a government pension of £500 per year, Hume certainly had the financial wherewithal to commission a series of building and landscape projects at Carolside (Tait 1891: 126-7). The central portion of the present house may have been built for him, while further wings were added in c.1806 (Cruft et al. 2006: 152). Other key additions include the drive and picturesque bridge, development of the park, woodland plantations, and the distinctive oval walled garden. All of these elements are depicted on an estate plan drawn up by William Crawford junior in 1826, an important piece of cartographic evidence in which the present structure of the designed landscape is readily identifiable (NAS RHP1206).

At Leadervale, the subsequent occupancy of Governor Wright's descendents is something of a mystery. Entries in 19th century peerage volumes refer to the Wrights of Carolside (Burke 1832: 45; The present peerage 1864: 50). However, surviving correspondence indicates that during the 1820s and 30s, James Hume, resident at Carolside House, was leasing Leadervale to civil engineer and naval officer, Sir Samuel Brown, to accommodate his mother (NAS GD416/6), and in 1824, was already thinking of selling the estate in its entirety (NAS GD416/6/1). In the event, Hume sold Carolside to the Innes family of Stow sometime in the 1830s, and the estate was subsequently inherited by a cousin, Alexander Mitchell, in 1841.

After James Hume's initial transformation and informalisation of the policies, work continued during the 19th century to extend the woodland cover around the main parkland of the two houses. Crawford and Brooke's map of 1843 shows that by this date plantations had been established along the upper slope of Huntshaw Hill to the east and along the Kedslie Glen burn to the north, while by the time of the 1st Ordnance surveys of the later 1850s, further swathes had been added to the north west of Carolside and along the southern edge of the Leadervale grounds (OS 1857; 1859).

A carefully documented workbook from the years 1837-9 provides a brief but valuable snapshot of everyday labours carried out at Carolside (NAS GD113/5/5). In a neat hand, forester Stephen Watts recorded tasks such as thinning plantations, cutting wood, repairing fences, working in the shrubberies, cleaning gravel walks and cleaning the front of the house. He refers to the 'new line of road', of the present A68, from where a new east drive to the house was created. From his brief entries regarding the walled gardens, we know that by this time, there was already a glasshouse, trained fruit trees, grapes and flowers at Carolside, and potatoes, onions and turnips under cultivation at Leadervale.

Alexander Mitchell's surviving wife later married the 11th Lord Reay, a notable figure in public life both in Britain and India. Together Lord and Lady Reay held Carolside in their ownership until the earlier 20th century. By this time, the parklands had matured and in 1886, a visiting party from the Berwickshire Naturalists Club admired the 'well tree'd park', in which cattle and fallow deer grazed (Hardy 1886: 350-1). A brief article in 1917, meanwhile, praised the collection of roses at Carolside that were 'worth going a long way to see' (The Border Magazine 1917: 66).

During the 20th century, both the houses of Leadervale and Carolside underwent further changes of ownership and were used for accommodating military personnel during the Second World War. The 1970s witnessed the sale and division of some parts of the former Carolside estate, and the gradual dilapidation of some parts of the designed landscape. The late 20th century, however, proved a time of restoration and consolidation. At Leadervale, the owners assembled a small estate of land around the house, and launched a programme of building repairs (Dawson 1998). The present owners of Carolside arrived in 1990 and have since created several new secluded garden areas to the north of the house in addition to maintaining and developing the planting schemes and rose specimens in the walled garden. The parklands of both houses are in very good condition and younger tree specimens have been planted in recent years in order to replace the eventual loss of the older trees.

* Secondary historical sources prove contradictory on this issue. One publication suggests Hume to already be the absentee proprietor of Carolside in 1769 (Roelker 1948: 222), while another indicates a much later purchase date of 1793 (Tait 1891: 127).


  • 18th Century (1701 to 1800)
  • Late 18th Century (1775 to 1799)
Features & Designations


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



Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)







  • Historic Scotland