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Cockenzie House


The garden at Cockenzie House has a surviving late-17th-century layout although much of the planting dates from the 20th century. Features include a tripartite walled garden and ornamental garden buildings. It is noteworthy because of the extensive use of clinker or lava in the garden walls and grotto.

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 late 17th century harbour manager's house, in the laird's house tradition, with tripartite walled garden, and ornamental garden buildings.

Location and Setting

Cockenzie House and its garden are sited in the centre of Cockenzie and Port Seton on the A199 coast road. The north boundary wall lies on Cockenzie High Street with Cockenzie Power Station (built in the early 1960s) dominating the view to the west. On the south side of the A199, opposite the main gates of the house, is the village green, once known as Sheep Park. A wall survives to the east.

There are no views from the garden at Cockenzie House today, although the gazebos in the walled garden once would have given views into the adjacent orchards, and to the enclosed park that once lay to the south of the garden.

Today Cockenzie House and its landscape is confined within the garden walls. Previously, however, there were a series of small enclosed parks to the south (1894, OS 25").

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Cockenzie House is a grey harled, nine-bay, late 17th century house, now a nursing home. It comprises two storeys, attic and basement, with hipped roof and dormers. The Hanseatic Barn lies on the west side of the house and is two storeys high, rubble-built, with a pantiled roof. The building was badly burnt several years ago but has been rebuilt and made into residential accommodation. This entire site is surrounded by Garden Walls of mixed age and materials. These boundary walls are of rubble stonework, raised in height using what is said to be Icelandic lava brought back as ship ballast, and date to the 18th century when the Cadell family lived at Cockenzie. Within the central garden compartment, twin, mid-18th century Gazebos are built into the east and west walls. Each is circular, with a slated conical roof and external stone stairs leading to the upper floors. A Well is situated just north of the east gazebo. A clinker or lava-built Grotto, which may be 19th century, stands in the southern half of the central garden. The entrance faces the house and is framed by the jawbone of a whale. The name 'Hecla' over the doorway presumably (although the name is found also in South Uist) refers to Hecla, the volcano in Iceland. There is surviving shellwork in the interior and stone seats around the edge. The roof has three distinctive stone pinnacles. Two Garden Shelters, contemporary or earlier than the Hecla grotto, were attached to the east and west walls in the north part of the central garden. Apart from fragments of shellwork and a paved sitting area, little survives of these features. The Gate and Gate Piers at the southern approach are 18th century.

Drives and Approaches

The house is now approached from the north via a cobbled court with the date 1845 incorporated into the design. The 18th century approach was from the south through the entrance court, which has now been incorporated into the late 18th century gardens.

Walled Garden

The walled gardens lie to the south of the house. The central, or inner garden (once the entrance court) is divided by an axial path of concrete slabs, with flanking rose borders. In the upper part of the garden there are cross paths, forming grass semicircles, edged with narrow borders, and narrow side paths and borders beside the garden walls. A paved terrace runs immediately in front of the house. There is some fine detailing including rainwater gullies along the side paths. The grass areas are planted with a mixture of fruit trees including apples and damsons and some ornamental cherries, probably planted in the early 20th century. A pear tree, mentioned in the deeds, is trained against the south gable end of the Hanseatic Barn.

The two adjacent walled gardens are entered to by three doors in each wall, one in each corner and one in the centre point of the walls. The 1st edition OS (1894, 25") shows walks in the two outer walled areas but these gardens are now overgrown. Elm (Ulmus procera) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) are the dominant tree species. There is the remnant of a grass tennis court in the west enclosure.

An area of grass on the north side of the house is planted with a small group of elms dating from the late 18th century.

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

This is an unusual survivor, comprising a late 17th century layout of house, walled garden and associated garden buildings. The extensive use of clinker or lava in the garden walls and grotto is highly distinctive.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Late 17th century, with mid-late 18th century additions.

Site History

Cockenzie House was built in the late 17th century for the Winton Estate's harbour and saltpan manager, but was forfeited in 1715 and passed to the York Building Company. The house was bought in the mid 18th century by the Cadells, a prosperous family of glaziers from Haddington, who made additions to the house and garden.

The Hanseatic Barn attached to the west side of the house indicates connections with the Hanseatic League although the building's history is little recorded.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Conservation Area

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

  • Reference: 279


  • Gazebo
  • Description: Twin gazebos in the walled garden.
  • Garden Wall
  • Description: Eighteenth-century rubble-built garden walls whose height is raised with lava.
  • Grotto
  • Description: A clinker- or lava-built grotto.
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Part: standing remains



Open to the public


Electoral Ward

Cockenzie and Port Seton




  • Historic Scotland

  • Joe Rock