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Chatelherault (also known as Wham)


Chatelherault is a Country Park that once formed part of the designed landscape associated with Hamilton Palace. The layout of the parkland is well-preserved and incorporates some ancient pollarded oaks dating from the 15th century. There are also remnants of the Grand Avenue linking Hamilton Palace with the hunting lodge, Chatelherault. A 20th-century restoration programme has recreated the formal parterre of box hedges in a scrolled pattern around the mid-18th century hunting lodge.

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

Remnants of picturesque scenery with parkland, specimen trees and mature woodland and some surviving elements of formal gardens are reminders of a designed landscape largely unchanged since the 18th century.

Location and Setting

Chatelherault was built as a terminal feature to a grand avenue which extended from Hamilton Palace over 1.5 miles (2km) away to its north-west. It is set on higher land above the Clyde valley in which the Palace was built, and on the east side of the River Avon, a tributary of the Clyde, which here has formed a deep gorge through the Carboniferous rocks which underlie the area. Hamilton town centre is only 1 mile (1.5km) away to the north-west, and Motherwell lies 2 miles (3km) to its north-east. The M74 has been constructed through the Clyde valley between the two towns, and Chatelherault forms a striking scenic feature when travelling south along the motorway. There are extensive views from the site, especially northwards over the remnants of the Grand Avenue.

Historically Chatelherault was built as a feature in the overall design for the landscape of Hamilton Palace (q.v.). Today it is divided from the north end of the park, known as Hamilton Low Parks, but the surrounding south end of the designed landscape has remained similar in extent since it was drawn by Alexander Edward in 1708. Chatelherault itself faces north across the Clyde Valley and views to the south and west are restricted by woodlands. The High Parks extend westwards to the outer fringe of Hamilton town and are bounded by minor roads to the south and west and by the B7078 and A72 to the east. Alexander Edward's drawing of 1708 shows the park extending further to the west at that time with formal diagonals, a rond-point, and belvederes laid out in the woodlands to the west of the Avon. To the east of the Avon, the Grand Avenue is shown extending to the southern boundary of the park, that is past Cadzow Castle and the site of Chatelherault. Edward's plan is entitled: 'a Map with some Alterations and Additions to the Gardens, Courts, Avenues, Plantations and Inclosures of Hamilton'; and so it is not clear how much of this drawing was carried out at that time, although it is known that part of the Grand Avenue had been planted by then. A detailed 'Survey of the High Parks' in 1776 by William Douglas gives no indication of the grand avenue extending south beyond Chatelherault, and very little formal woodland planting is shown remaining to the west of the Avon.

The parks here are divided into fields labelled as Chaces and divided by the wooded gills of the tributary river valleys. To the east of the Avon a more picturesque design of woodland is shown around a formal circle, and called Belvedere Braes. Further surveys by R. Bauchap in 1812 and 1835 show no change to the extent of the design but the picturesque outline of the Belvedere Braes had been block-planted between the two surveys. Building development has gradually encroached into the boundary of the parkland particularly on the north-west edge, and some of the High Parks have been put to arable farming, with the consequent loss of some of the famous ancient parkland trees. There are 1,749.5 acres (708ha) in the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Chatelherault, designed by William Adam in 1732 is listed A. It consists of two end pavilions linked by a long screen wall ornamented with urns. Cadzow Castle an ancient stronghold on the opposite bank of the River Avon, was reconstructed as a folly in the mid-19th century, and is a scheduled ancient monument listed B. The Duke's Bridge over the Avon, which links the two buildings, is listed B. There are other features of architectural interest in Hamilton Palace Parks.


The remnants of the Hamilton High Parks provide some of the most beautiful parkland scenery, with their ancient pollarded oaks. The trees are so old that they are difficult to date, but one has been dated at c.1440. They are the subject of an SSSI designation. Some of the trees have been lost due to intensification of farming methods in this century, and the others will need protection. The Deer Park to the north of the building has been excavated for sand and gravel since the 1880s and in recent years the excavations threatened to undercut the building itself, which is already suffering from coal-mining subsidence. This area is to be restored, and the Wham reservoir area will be made into two ponds. A large car park has been put into the former quarry to the east of the building. The Grand Avenue has now been replanted over the sand quarry area.


The Avon Gorge woodlands are also old and contain ash, elm, oak and sycamore species; an area west of the Cadzow Castle has been planted up with conifers, but will be replanted with mixed deciduous species once it has been cropped. The woodlands are now managed as part of the Country Park and grass and woodchip paths have been established.

The Gardens

The designer of the original gardens is unknown. Archaeological investigations have uncovered a formal layout in the garden, of a bi-symmetrical scroll-like pattern. This is to be laid out with box hedges and filled with plant material of species which were available in Scotland in the 1740s. There are also some specimen trees at the edge of the walled garden, including some yews, monkey puzzles, (since removed), and Wellingtonias. Two huge old sycamores stand to the east of the building. The courtyard behind Chatelherault which formerly housed dog kennels, a derelict Georgian game larder, and the Victorian game larder (which is to be reassembled elswhere) has been redesigned as an Interpretive Centre around an Internal Courtyard.

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

Formerly one of Scotland's grandest designed landscapes, Chatelherault still has remnants of scenically beautiful parkland, ancient trees and some very fine architecture. The High Parks and Avon Gorge are valuable wildlife habitats.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Original layout dates from c.1730s and that recorded 1777 remains largely unchanged except for interventions in the late 19th and 20th centuries of quarrying, the building of a reservoir and the creation of a Country part on part of the estate.

Site History

The pattern of the designed landscape of the High Parks at Hamilton has remained similar since the 1777 survey by William Douglas.

The building was constructed for the 5th Duke in 1732 to the design of William Adam. It was locally regarded as being built in imitation of the Duke's chateau at Chatelherault in France. Other stories refer to an argument with a French noble about the comparative grandeur of French and Scottish building, to which the Duke's response was to build the grandest building, but only for use as a dog kennel. Adam refers to it in Vitruvius Scoticus as the Duke's dog kennel, and Chatelherault was used as a hunting-lodge as well as an eye-catching folly at the end of the avenue. Dog kennels were built behind the east pavilion of the building, while the west pavilion was reserved for use as a retreat, albeit a very ornamental one, with elaborate plasterwork and woodwork. It was used as an elegant banqueting house in the 18th century and for shooting parties in the 19th century. The facade was designed so that it appeared from the Palace to be of the same width as the Palace itself, ie it is some 30' wider at 290'. Most of this width is formed by the screen which links the two end pavilions.

A bowling green is shown to the north of the building in the 1777 survey plan by Douglas, and a reservoir was put in to the north-east of the building in a marshy area known as 'The Wham' by the 1st edition OS map of c.1860. Chatelherault was used as a residential building until 1876 and its use then continued as a garden building. The gardens were originally laid out in the 1730s as a parterre behind the west pavilion; a terrace walk bordered the Avon Gorge. In the 1840s the Gardeners' Magazine referred to the 'beautiful flower garden'. Photographs taken later in the 19th century show trellis work adjacent to the walls, and lawns laid out in between clipped trees and large circular flower beds, filled with a variety of bedding plants.

In the 1880s the Deer Park was excavated for sand and gravel, and coal-mining continued underneath the site. In 1945 there was a fire in the building, and it was left empty for many years. On the death of the 14th Duke in 1976 the estate was given over to the nation in lieu of death duties. Chatelherault and part of the High Parks were purchased by the National Land Fund in 1978. In 1984 Hamilton District Council was grant-aided by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Scottish Development Department in the purchase of a further 138 acres of land to the north and east of Chatelherault, and a 500 acre Country Park is to be opened to the public in July 1987. The building is being restored by the Scottish Development Department and Hamilton District Council, who will eventually own and manage it and the gardens are currently being restored to the period of their original design.

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Site of Special Scientific Interest

  • Reference: Pollarded oaks


  • Folly
  • Parterre
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Hunting lodge
  • Earliest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland