Crimonmogate is a relatively small designed landscape set within the flat, coastal farmland at the extreme north-east of Banff and Buchan. The house occupies a central location, overlooking lawns and the park to the south, while ample woodlands around the designed landscape core and perimeter create a secluded and private feel to the grounds.
Type of Site
A well-defined, classic earlier 19th-century designed landscape, with parks and high-quality estate buildings sheltered by attractive policy woodlands.
Location and Setting
Crimonmogate is a relatively small designed landscape set within the flat, coastal farmland at the extreme north-east of Banff and Buchan. It is located approximately 5.5 miles (9 km) south east of Fraserburgh, and sits due west of the Loch of Strathbeg; the largest waterbody in the north-east lowlands, and the largest dune lake in Britain. The loch and its margins are of national and international importance in terms of nature habitat value, and are protected by a number of natural heritage designations (SiteLink 2010). Minor burns within the slightly higher ground of Crimonmogate drain towards Strathbeg, and also feed the artificial lake to the north of the policies. In general, views within the designed landscape are contained within the policies. The house occupies a central location, overlooking lawns and the park to the south, while ample woodlands around the designed landscape core and perimeter create a secluded and private feel to the grounds. The designed landscape encompasses an area of 146ha (361ac.), bounded by the B9033 road to the west, a minor road to the east, and the A90 to the south.
Crimonmogate House, by Archibald Simpson c.1825, is a neo-classical, ashlar granite mansion of two storeys. It features a pedimented, Doric-columned portico at the centre of the principal south front, and is flanked by two projecting wings. The original proportions of the house were radically altered in the 1860s with the addition of a prominent mansard roof with round-headed dormer windows. The designed landscape contains a good number of notable, earlier 19th-century estate buildings, mostly located due west of the house. Of these, the old laundry and single storey, octagonal dairy are both attributed to Archibald Simpson, c.1825. Simpson also designed the remodelled north front of the mid 18th-century, quadrangular stable block, with its neo-Greek octagonal louvre, and is credited with the design of two of the entrance lodges - the S.E Lodge, and the Gardener's Lodge, both single storey, white-washed rubble structures, also of c.1825. The North Lodge, meanwhile, is a slightly later, mid 19th-century, 2-storey structure.
Immediately to the south of the stable block is a plain, curved rubble garden wall with an early 19th-century consoled doorpiece, while just north of Crimonmogate House is a single-storey, rubble-built game larder, c.1825. The Crimonmogate House monument to the east of the house was erected in 1821 by Charles Bannerman to the memory of Patrick Milne. Comprising a square granite obelisk mounted on a 3-step base, it also features later memorials to Bannerman family members. A rustic-style boathouse with partially thatched walls stands on the east-shore of the lake. Older surviving features within the designed landscape include the late 18th-century, circular sundial, with the initials PM for Patrick Milne, and the attractive mid 18th-century octagonal dovecot with potence, located in woodland by the west drive.
Further architectural features of note are located towards the perimeter of the policies. To the south-west, they include the substantial rubble wall of the large, former walled garden, built sometime between 1834-52, and the 19th-century kennels and kennels house. To the south-east, they comprise the former Mill of Crimonmogate, possibly also by Simpson c.1825, and the nearby single-storey, U-plan Mill of Crimonmogate farmhouse, which may have been adapted from an earlier structure in the first half of the 19th century. To the north, a humped, single-arched, rubble-built estate bridge of probable early 19th-century date leads over the Burn of Logie towards the S.E. Lodge. Well-preserved ha has encircle the parks, ensuring uninterrupted views, while the partially canalised burn that flows eastwards through the centre of the policies features culverts and small bridges, and signs that it has been manipulated to flow via small rills and cascades.
Drives and Approaches
The three main drives of Crimonmogate were almost certainly established in the first half of the 19th century together with the execution of the entrance lodges and other key works on the estate. The longest of the three approaches enters from the west via the Gardener's Lodge and west gate. Originally intended as the principal carriage drive, it sweeps through bluebell woods towards Crimonmogate House, affording glimpses of adjacent parks, and the 18th-century dovecot. The shorter, secondary east drive is now the most commonly used approach. Entering the policies at the S.E. Lodge near Millhill, it also curves past parkland and through woods before arriving at the gravel forecourt of the house. The straight north drive leads directly to the stable block, and was intended as a more functional service drive.
The early OS editions reveal other, former 19th-century routes in and around the policies. They show woodland paths leading through the perimeter woodlands and Savoch Wood to the north (1864-71 OS 25'; 1899-1901 OS 25'). By the end of the 19th century, these had been complemented by a new drive running northwards from the east side of the house to the lake, and an intricate path at the north of the lake leading from the banks onto the islands via a series of five footbridges (1899-1901 OS 25').
The early 19th-century landscape design encompassed three areas of open parkland. Stretching outwards from the core of the designed landscape, but contained and secluded by the perimeter woodlands, these parks were designed to be seen from the approaches and from Crimonmogate House. During the late 19th and 20th century, the eastern park was subdivided by a further drive and later small plantations. Although the former parks are now cultivated, and have lost the smattering of individual specimen trees depicted during the 19th century (1864-71 OS 25'; 1899-1901 OS 25'), they retain their essential structure, their well-preserved ha has, and the striking clump of trees in the northern park. A further mature, circular island clump in the southern park also lends structure and depth to views across this part of the policies.
In the former park grounds to the east of the house, view-inhibiting, tall stands of Sitka spruce have recently been removed, thus restoring the setting of Crimonmogate monument. New specimen tree planting includes a range of different oak and maple saplings, while pairs of limes now define an avenue to the monument.
The mixed broadleaf woodlands comprise one of the most dominant and attractive landscape elements of Crimonmogate. They were originally planted during the earlier-mid 19th century by the Bannermans and attracted praise in subsequent written accounts that noted the contrast between the former treeless landscape of the parish in the 18th century, and the 'well-grown hardwood trees'thriving young plantations, and fine, well-kept beech hedges' of the Victorian estate (Smith 1874: 288; see also Banffshire Journal1865: 41; New Stat. Acc. 1845: 221). Today, the 19th-century plantation structure remains intact, and comprises perimeter woods and central policy woodlands of beech, sycamore and lime. The stands of Sitka spruce planted during the 20th century, and which altered the park-woodland aesthetic, are now being gradually removed through a long-term programme of woodland management designed to restore the original broadleaf species mix. As the seasons change at Crimonmogate, the woodland floor is carpeted first by snowdrops, then daffodils, followed by an impressive display of bluebells and forget-me-nots in late spring (Crimonmogate House, www.cmg-events.co.uk ).
The principal water feature is the long, artificial lake located towards the north of the designed landscape. Thought to be established during the lifetime of Alexander Bannerman around the mid-19th century (Sale Particulars 2000), it represents an ambitious project in terms of both engineering and labour. Stakes pinning the banks are still visible in some locations (W. Stanhope pers. comm. 2009). It was furnished with the boat-house on the east bank, while by the close of the century, paths and footbridges led across the small islands created close to the north bank (1864-71 OS 25'; 1899-1901 OS 25'). Clearly intended for both leisure pursuits and a picturesque aesthetic, the lake remains an attractive feature in the present designed landscape and work is currently underway to remove remaining stands of Sitka spruce, open up views, and to restore the Victorian loch-side path.
There are several garden areas in the immediate vicinity of Crimonmogate House, restored and developed in the first decade of the 21st century by the present owners. A small formal garden occupies the site of the 19th-century terrace along the eastern elevation of the house. Incorporating older features such as the raised and level lawn terrace, stone steps and the main path leading eastwards from the house, (1899-1901, OS 25'), it is now defined by new box and yew hedges, which divide the lawn into compartments, and pairs of white flowering cherries, which line and ornament the path. The Victorian conservatory on the north wall was demolished in the early 1970s (1899-1901, OS 25'; Monckton 1997: 12). At the main front of Crimonmogate House, a short avenue runs southward. Opened up in the late 20th century, it has more recently been planted with an avenue of Harrington plum yew saplings (Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Korean gold'). In the adjacent lawns, other new saplings and rhododendrons have been introduced among the older trees, which include a thriving Wych elm and a veteran horse chestnut, a probable rare survivor of the 18th century landscape.
To the west of the house, and just south of the stable block, is a curving, south-facing, plain rubble garden wall. Depicted on the 1834 estate survey plan, it is either the successor, or the same wall as that shown on Sangster's vignette and plan of 1776 when it formed the northern boundary of a traditional productive walled garden, divided into quadrants with paths, and with trained fruit trees (NAS RHP13296). Following the reorganisation of the landscape in the earlier 19th century, and the construction of the new, larger walled garden to the south-west of the policies, this older garden probably acquired a more ornamental character. Today, shrubs and fruit trees are grown along the sheltering wall, while the remainder is grassed.
The other walled garden is in separate ownership and now contains a late 20th-century private residence. The rubble and partially brick-lined wall was originally constructed sometime between 1834-52, and defines a large, irregular area of ground. The early OS editions indicate that it once contained a glasshouse, while a useful water supply came from the canalised burn, channelled via culverts into and out of the garden (1864-71 OS 25'; 1899-1901, OS 25'). The wall remains a striking architectural feature in this part of the designed landscape.
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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
Crimonmogate contains an outstanding collection of architectural features, most notably Crimonmogate House, by Archibald Simpson. The polices are currently undergoing a long-term programme of renewal, with planting and thinning projects improving the quality of the woodland resource and adding to the range of tree and shrub specimens in the vicinity of the house.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
The designed landscape owes its present form to a major phase of earlier 19th-century landscaping, building and planting projects. These transformed the centre of a large agricultural estate into a suitably picturesque and fashionable setting for the new mansion house of Crimonmogate, designed by Archibald Simpson in c.1825. Historical maps and accounts suggest that prior to this time, there were no designed pleasure grounds of any great significance (Roy 1747-55; NAS RHP13296; Stat. Acc 1792; New Stat. Acc. 1845).
Crimonmogate had formerly been part of the landed estate of the prosperous Earls of Errol from the 15th century onwards (Cumine 1888: 117; Callander 1987: 52-3). While the Earls remained significant landowners in Aberdeenshire during the 18th century, their declining fortunes may have prompted the sale of the estate to the Abernethy family in the 1730s. One of the most useful sources for the nature of the landscape during this era is the large-scale plan of Crimonmogate by J. Sangster, dated 1776, which shows a large, treeless estate landscape of fields, steadings, mills and track-ways, with an accompanying vignette illustrating 'A South Perspective View of the Mansionhouse, Offices & Part of the Gardens etc. of Crimonmogat (sic)' (NAS RHP13296). Apart from the 3-bay, 3-storey lairds house, which was subsequently removed, other elements of the vignette illustration (dovecot, steading and garden wall) can still be identified within the present designed landscape.
Over the next one hundred years the landscape underwent a more radical change. By the late 18th century, Crimonmogate had been acquired by the Milne family, and it was probably the wealth generated by Patrick Milne through business enterprises overseas which funded subsequent projects (Crimonmogate House, www.cmg-events.com ). Improvement-period techniques of drainage and land reclamation began to make an impact on the parish landscape during this time (New Stat. Acc. 1845: 236), and by 1811, the Board of Agriculture reported that 'Crimonmogate has no wood; but is distinguished by the best stone walls, round its inclosures, that are to be found in the county, on so large a scale' (1811: 629). When Milne died in 1820, leaving Crimonmogate to his relation, Charles Bannerman, negotiations were already underway for a new mansion-house to be designed and executed by the Aberdeen architect, Archibald Simpson (1790-1847).
Charles Bannerman clearly took up the reigns in earnest, and over the next 30 years, Crimonmogate was transformed through an ambitious programme of works that also included the development of woodland plantations and parkland, drives and entrance lodges, a new walled garden, and a new suite of estate buildings, many of which were also designed by Simpson. His son, Alexander Bannerman, continued development work in the 1860s, and commissioned the extensive remodelling of the house. With this investment of labour and money, Crimonmogate matured into a classic, Victorian designed landscape that attracted praise in contemporary accounts. The revised edition of a mid 19th-century guide to Buchan comments on grounds 'well-sheltered by wood', and which possessed 'excellent gardens, laid out with much taste' (Pratt 1901). In these gardens, apprentices learned their trade under the guidance of an experienced head gardener (recollections in The Gardeners' Chronicle 1924: 384 and 1925: 455), while the resulting produce won prizes in county exhibitions (The Gardeners' Chronicle 1897: 407).
By the close of the 19th century, ownership had passed by marriage to the Carnegie family. They retained Crimonmogate for a further century, and still own a small burial plot within the grounds. Although the 20th century witnessed the dispersal of the former estate, a gradual deterioration in the condition of the grounds, and the establishment of some hard-edged Sitka Spruce plantations, the decline was halted towards the end of the century. In 1997, the former owners expressed the hope of restoring the house and policies to the original, early 19th-century design, and made some headway in clearing invasive vegetation and stumps from around the house (Monckton 1997: 4).
Crimonmogate was sold in 2001 to the present owners. Since then, they have been engaged in rolling out a sustained, long-term programme of landscape renewal, which includes the phased removal of the conifer stands, the thinning of woodlands to promote ground flora, and the plantation of new specimens and shrubs in the grounds immediately around the house. While remaining a private residence, Crimonmogate is also let out as a venue for weddings, corporate events and garden parties, (Crimonmogate House, www.cmg-events.co.uk ).
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- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
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