The designed landscape extends over a series of low morainic hills overlooking St Andrews and the coast. Craigtoun House surrounded by enclosed pleasure grounds is situated on a ridge, centrally within the park, commanding views to both the north and south. Despite the establishment of a golf course (the Duke's Course), the Country Park and some modern housing development, the extent of the designed landscape remains apparent and enforces a distinct landscape character on the surrounding area.
Type of Site
19th and early 20th century formal gardens, with early 20th century picturesque-model village, set within a multi-period parkland.
Location and Setting
Craigtoun Park is situated 3.6 km/2.3 miles southwest of St Andrews.
The designed landscape extends over a series of low morainic hills overlooking St Andrews and the coast. The topography inclines towards the north and is drained by the Claremont Burn, a tributary of the Kinness Burn. Craigtoun House surrounded by enclosed pleasure grounds is situated on a ridge, centrally within the park, commanding views to both the north and south. Some views have been lost due to recent tree growth. Principal retained vistas are along the Cypress Avenue and across the lake to the Island and its model village. Other significant views extend over relict parkland, beyond the golf-course to Tentsmuir Forest.
By the 1850s the designed landscape reached its greatest extent, over some 140ha. On the north it is bounded by the St Andrews road and to the south by the woodlands, Denhead and Bog Wood. The parkland was divided into a series of inner parks, separated from one another by tree belts, scattered tree groups, and enclosed by perimeter belts. The perimeter belts and woodlands enclosing the southern parks were 'picturesque' in style, their planted edges following a serpentine line (1st ed. OS 6'', 1855).
Despite the establishment of a golf course (the Duke's Course), the Country Park and some modern housing development, the extent of the designed landscape remains apparent and enforces a distinct landscape character on the surrounding area.
Craigtoun Hospital, in early-Renaissance-style with some Scots Baronial features, is an asymmetrical composition in hammer-dressed pink sandstone with polished ashlar dressings. Designed by Paul Waterhouse (dated 1903 at its waterheads), its principal entrance front lies on the west side, where there is a dwarf-walled circular forecourt and turning circle with 3 panelled-pier and arched gateways with wrought-iron gates and ball finials, flanking the house. In 1902-03 Waterhouse relocated the 17th or early 18th century Sundial to occupy the centre of the forecourt. It has an octagonal shaft with assorted dials, a thistle, rose and fleur-de-lys carved in relief. In the 1950s a number of single-storey extensions were added, mainly on the south, garden front to form hospital accommodation. At the mansion's south-west corner, on first-floor level, is a conservatory.
The Formal Garden, to the south, comprises an Italian Garden designed by Waterhouse in 1910. It incorporates features from James Gillespie Graham's scheme for the earlier 1820s house; primarily a tall screen wall, topped by urns and eagles. The screen wall, enclosing a fountain, has three niches and Doric pilasters (coupled at the ends) with a full triglyph and circular frieze to the centre bay pediment. The wall steps down from the centre with scrolls and ball finials before meeting balustered low-level sidewalls. An Archway leads from lawns to the north entrance of the Cypress Avenue, and may also be from the Gillespie Graham scheme. The Cypress Avenue's North Entrance (also part of Gillespie Graham's scheme?), is formed by square-plan ashlar Gatepiers, set with urn finials and low flanking walls decorated with pairs of urns supported by lion's paws. Waterhouse marked the centre-point of the Cypress Avenue with an Italian Wellhead, circular in plan rising to an octagonal abacus, with Corinthian detailing. The ornamental metalwork dressing the wellhead, now fragmentary, is formed of delicate spirals and cones with an attachment for a bucket and wheel, now missing.
Waterhouse's Island Buildings and model village, set on the lakes to the south of the mansion, comprise a boathouse and summerhouse in a picturesque Franco-German style, approached over a humped 3-arched bridge leading up to a 2-storey gatehouse. The buildings are linked by a columned loggia and perimeter walls. All are white-harled with painted dressings and red tile and pantile roofs. Between the lakes there is a Grotto and a series of three Cascades formed of aggregates of locally sourced red sandstone, rounded pebbles and cement. There is the possibility that a Pulhamite cement was used, but to date there is no evidence of this (see Tourism Resources Company et al.)
Directly east of the mansion lie the ancillary estate buildings. The Walled Garden of 1826 was remodelled by Waterhouse in 1902. It is formed by rubble walls with flat copings on its north and east sides, the east wall being higher. The north wall is furnished with a greenhouse range on its inner face and single-storey brick heating chambers on the outer wall. On the east wall is an octagonal, domed Summerhouse added by Waterhouse that sits astride the walled garden. The elevation internal to the Walled Garden has 4 Ionic wooden columns with a steeply pitched red-tiled roof. The façade outwith the garden has 3 metal-framed leaded windows with an external canted bay. North of the garden is a Fruit Store, part of Waterhouse's scheme, now adapted to a toilet block. It is built in red brick with grey bricks as a base course, windows and Dutch Gable cope. An early 19th century Cottage at the Walled Garden is low, 2-storey, of droved ashlar with a polished belt at first floor level.
North of the garden is the early 19th century Home Farm Steading with a round horsemill, remodelled by Waterhouse, and converted to housing in 1985. North again lie the Former Stables (now called Mount Melville), also by Waterhouse c 1905, with a mix of Scots and French 16th century architectural features. The court comprises a single-storey and attic along three sides, all of hammer dressed rubble with polished ashlar dressings. A central arch is surmounted with a coat of arms, with flanking diagonal square turrets and a tall pavilion roof over the gate, surmounted with elaborate wrought-iron finials and a weathercock. In parkland north-east of the mansion is the Mount Melville Home Farm Doocot, an 18th century lean-to type, which has been altered to accommodate a byre, now ruinous.
The East Lodge dating to c.1820/40, is single-storey and built of ashlar with a central semi-octagonal Doric-columned porch. The West Lodge and Gates, known as Craigtoun Lodge, marking the West Drive entrance, is by Waterhouse. It is in a Baronial style, 2-storied in hammer-dressed pink sandstone with ashlar dressings and has a circular turret with a conical slated roof.
Drives and Approaches
The principal entrance to Craigtoun Park is from the West Lodge, which services the Duke's Course and Craigtoun Country Park. From the Craigtoun Lodge the drive crosses rising ground, lined with conifer plantations and Rhododendrons, before reaching car parks at the golf-course and further parking at the entrance to the Country Park. The east entrance now services a Caravan Park and Holiday centre.
During the 19th century, the principal entrance, from St Andrews led along the North Drive, through woodland at Ballone to emerge within the north park. On climbing the ridge the drive led eastwards through the pleasure grounds to reach the principal, west entrance. The entrance from the Cupar direction lay on the west, with the West Drive meeting the North Drive to form one principal approach (1855, OS 6").
The condition of the park reflects its divided ownership. Grassland areas within the Country Park, principally the south park, are well maintained. The Duke's Course now comprises the west park with intensively managed turf. The north-west park is poorly drained and its parkland character is being lost through scrub regeneration. Parkland between Mount Melville (the Former Stables) and the Home Farm has been built over with housing.
The lakes, two artificial water-bodies, are linked by artificial channels, a grotto and three cascades. Their perimeters are lined with artificial stone, artificial rock outcrops and pockets for perimeter planting.
Some areas of woodland are now commercial conifer plantation. Other areas survive as mixed broadleaved woodlands.
Waterhouse's Italian Garden is largely intact although several features have been lost, some new features have been added and the boundaries between Craigtoun House (in separate ownership) and the Country Park make for a disjointed layout. The basin of the central stone fountain has been infilled and planted and the waterspout has been removed. Statues from the screen wall recesses, stone balusters from the perimeter balustrades and stone benches which flanked the garden are now missing. Raised stone paved footpaths are subsiding.
The Cypress Avenue, designed by Waterhouse, is aligned with the centre of the south elevation of the house. It is punctuated by a series of incidents (for its North Entrance see above). Its south end was marked by a dressed stone triple-Arch, demolished in 1966. The base of the central Arch was furnished with a stone seat framed by Greek columns with a simple stone lintel topped with four urns. From the Arch a series of footpaths led to the Walled Garden and ponds. The Italianate Wellhead (see above), marking the Avenue's central point, is enclosed by a semi-circular, formal yew hedge.
The Rose Garden, north of the Cypress Avenue, is enclosed by yew hedges. Its central axis leads to the Temple Mount, a major feature of Waterhouse's scheme. It was set with a stone Temple in oriental style, demolished in 1966. Two flights of stone steps lined by a yew hedge led up to the Temple which was circular in plan with six sets of double Ionic columns supporting a balustraded parapet. A glazed viewing gallery topped by a bell-shaped cupola was set on top. An alternative route to it led up a spiral path around the mount, which was planted with fastigiate Cypress trees to frame the Temple. Shrub plantings of Portuguese laurel and flowering cherries covered the mount. A timber pergola linked Temple Mount and the Rose Garden, but only the mount and spiral path survive.
There are many mature specimen trees in the pleasure gardens around the house, including Wellingtonia.
The earliest known layout shows the garden to have been quartered, the four rectangular geometric beds divided by tree-lined paths (1855, OS 6''). Waterhouse's 1902 remodelling, added a Summerhouse on the eastern boundary which terminates the garden's central axis, forming a focal feature. The Summerhouse was sited to command panoramic views external to the garden and eastwards across farmland to St Andrews and the coast. However, housing development now dominates this previously rural view. The greenhouses have been replaced and redeveloped a number of times, the existing glasshouse being of recent construction.
The internal layout of the garden has been radically altered since the 1950s. It is now grass with informal island beds and a raised grass terrace adjacent to the greenhouse. Cold-frames and a Melonry were originally sited adjacent to the Fruit Store. These have been replaced by raised beds over their foundations.
- Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts
Telephone0131 668 8600
Access contact details
The site is now a country park, open daily: http://friendsofcraigtoun.org.uk/opening-hours/
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 significant well-documented 18th century landscape, remodelled in the early 19th century by James Gillespie Graham and John Nicol. Set within a multi-period parkland are 19th and early 20th-century formal gardens, with an early 20th century picturesque model village.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Mid-late 18th century; 1820s, 1902-3, 1920
Mount Melville Estate, originally called Craigtoun, was one of the Melville family estates. The Melvilles owned land in Fife land since the 16th century (see Melville House and Raith House).
A mansion house was constructed and grounds were laid out at Craigtoun in 1698 for General George Melville of Strathkiness (see Tourism Resources Company et al.)
By the late 18th century the mansion, known as Mount Melville, had been rebuilt. General Robert Melville (1723-1809) is credited with this and a watercolour of 1796 depicts Mount Melville House's principal elevation of three-storeys and an asymmetrical façade. This illustration, by the Chevalier Le Charron (probably Baron Le Charron 1759-1837, who served under General Melville) appears on a 'Moral Plan' dedicated to General Melville (Tait 1980, p.114). The plan shows an imaginary landscape for Mount Melville, full of imagery expounding a moral scheme and encompassing the ' Gulf of Despair' and the 'Source of Happiness' among many other features. General Melville, an extraordinary man with a distinguished military career, was also an antiquary (he studied some of the Roman camps in Britain) and botanist, the founder of the Botanic Garden at St Vincent. In 1759 he invented the 'carronade', a short heavy gun capable of firing a heavy shot at short range and known as the 'Smasher', which was used by the Royal Navy from its first manufacture in 1779 (at Carron) until the 1820s. Following a mission to France in 1775, to solicit favourable conditions for British settlers in Tobago, Melville travelled on through Switzerland, Italy and elsewhere (Stephen 1993, p.246-7). He seems to have been responsible for major landscape works at Mount Melville, for an account of 1790 mentions 230 trees, purchased and planted by Robert Nairn. Some details of this planting given: fruit trees were planted within the yards at Mount Melville, the varieties and spacing are stated. These orchards contained 24 varieties of apple (70 trees), 7 varieties of pear (14 trees), 3 varieties of plum (6 trees) and 8 cherry trees. Estate plans (dated 1793) and a sketch plan of the gardens document additional planting areas and a range of works completed and proposed. On his death his cousin John Whyte of Bennochy (1755-1813), inherited the property and adopted the name Melville (Millar 1895, p.341).
By 1821, the 18th century mansion had been replaced by a new house designed by James Gillespie Graham for John Whyte-Melville (1797-1883), which may have encased parts of the earlier mansion. This was complemented by grounds laid out by John Nicol, the gardener from Raith (adjacent to the Whyte-Melville's Bennochy property), probably the son of Walter Nicol, and grandson of John Nicol who worked at Wemyss Castle in the 1790s (see Raith; Wemyss Castle; Gardener's Magazine, 1831). Robert Hutchison, a builder and architect from Balgonie, designed the Walled Garden in 1826 (Tourism Resources Company and Land Use Consultants 2002; Colvin 1995, p.525). He had worked with Gillespie Graham on Monimail Church.
The mid 1850s designed landscape (140ha), was divided into north and south parks by Mount Melville House on its central ridge. The parkland boundary formed by the St Andrews Road was tree-lined with the other parkland belts curved in a picturesque style on their inner, parkland sides. This was particularly so in the south park, where the perimeter plantations followed a serpentine form enclosing parkland studded with clumps of varied shapes and sizes, in contrast to the scattered, individual parkland trees in the north park (1855, OS 6"). When John Balfour (1811-93) inherited the estate in 1883, he took the name Melville on the death of his second cousin (George Whyte-Melville). Ten years later his brother James Balfour-Melville (1815-1898), a solicitor, inherited. On his death his son took over but shortly after, in 1901, he sold Mount Melville and moved to Auchencross, Comrie.
The new owner, Dr James Younger of the Younger brewing family, undertook major remodelling of the estate. In 1902 he commissioned Paul W. Waterhouse to design a new house on the existing mansion site. This 'huge pink sandstone Jacobean chateau' had an opulent interior, with the most ornate exterior reserved for the garden façade (Gifford 1992, p.132). Using the same site meant that there was no need for new drives and approaches, thereby the parkland layout was retained, as were the Walled Garden and ancillary estate buildings. Waterhouse laid out formal gardens between 1902-10, mainly south of the mansion; including an Italian Garden, Rose garden and a Cypress Avenue, terminated with a temple. The Walled Garden was remodelled and furnished with a summerhouse. In 1920 a further commission for Waterhouse involved the design of major landscape works, including the creation of a series of lakes with a picturesque Island village, set to the south of the mansion.
In 1947 Mount Melville House along with 47 acres and the East and West Avenues, were bought by Fife County Council for £25,000. Its name was changed to Craigtoun, and the grounds were established as a Country Park. The remainder of the estate continued to be farmed by the Mount Melville Estate. The mansion became a hospital until 1992 when it was sold, together with 330 acres of parkland to the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews who developed the Dukes Golf Course in the west park.
Country Park facilities built since the 1940s include a bowling green, miniature railway, 'White Heather' performance stage, putting green and toilets. More recent additions have been a Children's Zoo, Countryside Rangers Centre, adventure playground, bouncy castle, play facilities and cafeteria. Due to a lack of funding and market changes some of these facilities have been discontinued and Craigtoun House remains empty and on the 'Buildings at Risk' register (2004).
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Open to the public