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The policies at Dalgairn House comprise a fragment of late-18th- and early-19th-century grazed parkland, a wild woodland garden dating from the 19th century and a walled garden built in the late-18th century. The walled garden was managed for nature conservation for a period in the mid-20th century. It is now in separate ownership and has a new house built in it. This site was previously registered on the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory, but has since been removed from the Inventory.

The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. The site is no longer registered.

Type of Site

No information available.

Location and Setting

Dalgairn House is situated on the south-west facing slope of the valley of the River Eden which runs through the town of Cupar approximately half a mile (1 km) to the south. A minor road (Bank St) between Cupar and the A914 to the north forms the western boundary of the designed landscape.

The setting of the house provides fine distant views south to the town and beyond to the Hill of Tarvit and other Lomond Hills. The expansion of the town has steadily encroached into the designed landscape; a local authority assessment centre is now sited in the south-west corner of the former policies and beyond it is local authority housing. To the north, the landscape remains largely in agricultural use. The woodland canopy of the designed landscape has a little impact on the local scenery.

Dalgairn House stands within some 24 acres (10ha) of designed landscape which extends north to the farm access road, south to the local authority housing and assessment centre, and west to the minor road between Cupar and the A914. Documentary evidence of the designed landscape is provided by the 1st edition OS map of c.1860 and the 2nd edition OS map of c.1910. Comparison of these maps indicates that the fields which lie beyond the eastern edge of the present policies, bounded by the access road to Hawklaw, were once part of the designed landscape. Formerly, a woodland strip ran between the house and Hawklaw Road. It is indicated on the 1st edition OS map as having a serpentine path through it. The woodland was clearfelled in 1962 but the gate which marked the east end of the path still remains. Prior to the development of local authority housing, the south boundary of the policies extended nearer the town as far as a house known as Lebanon Bank. In recent years, the extent of the policies has been further reduced by the development of the assessment centre in the south- west corner. These adjacent developments can be seen from the present southern edge of the policies but it is the views across the rooftops of the town and the distant hills which are most significant from the house.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Dalgairn House, listed category B, is a classical Georgian mansion built c.1770. Originally, the house was three storeys high with an entrance on the ground floor. The surrounding lawn was raised by General Dalyell c.1800 to create the present form of a two-storey building with raised basement which is accessed by the staircase.


In the mid-19th century, the parkland at Dalgairn extended from the house to the southern boundary of the designed landscape. The 1st edition OS map shows the field boundaries within the overall area to be clearly indicated. The main drive to the house swept through this parkland from the entrance lodge on the western boundary and approached the house from the east side. The area of park was substantially reduced by the development of local authority housing and the assessment centre in the south- west corner, as a result of which the drive was lost. The remaining area of parkland, some five acres, is presently grazed. There are no remaining parkland trees.

Woodland Garden

The wild garden at Dalgairn extends around the house and from there to the western boundary of the policies. The main access to the house and walled garden is via the west drive from the northern boundary through the wild garden.

The woodland canopy is largely of young mixed deciduous trees. The majority of the older timber was cut down in 1963 but some beech, sycamore and lime dating from c.1900 remain, the seeds of which have naturally regenerated. Yew and holly also remain and spruce was added in pockets between 1964-82, as well as about 1,000 beech seedlings. A beech hedge encloses the garden on the eastern boundary. Beneath the canopy, Rhododendron ponticum has naturally regenerated along with laurel and holly. Clematis and climbing roses were trained through the holly. In spring and summer, the ground is carpeted with bulbs. The construction of a tennis court was begun between 1982-85 but was incomplete at the time of our survey.

Adjacent to the house is an open area of lawn on which fine specimen trees remain, including a Sequoiadendron giganteum and an interesting horse chestnut. The wild garden is separated from the lawn by a mature holly hedge. To the west of the house is a raised bed and also low, informally-shaped beds stocked with herbaceous and perennial plants.

Walled Garden

The walled garden is thought to have been built following construction of the house. It extends over some two acres and is indicated on the 1st edition OS map of c.1860 as being divided into four equal compartments by intersecting paths. The northern half of the garden was further subdivided into four equal rectangles by an additional crosspath. Box hedges retained borders which ran along the inner faces of the walls.

By 1963, one quarter of the garden was cultivated and three quarters was an abandoned raspberry patch, tennis lawn, hen-run and fruit garden. Within the structure which existed on his acquisition, Mr Banks allowed the garden to evolve with minimal maintenance. Fruit, vegetables and herbs thrived, as did shrubs, including Escallonia and Forsythia, amid the old roses which included Rosa rugosa scabrosa, R. alba 'Cuisse de Nymphe Emus', 'Zephrine Drouhin' and R. foetida 'Bicolor'. Wild flowers, especially 'threatened' and therefore rare varieties, were 'rescued' and established at Dalgairn. A pictorial record of the garden has been retained by Mr Banks and the garden is the subject of Mr Banks' book 'Living in a Wild Garden'. In it, he describes the numerous plants grown in the garden and the use of edible weeds.

Many of the plants were removed from the garden when Dalgairn was sold in 1982. The present owner (of the walled garden) has constructed a new house within the garden walls.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. The site is no longer registered.

Reason for Inclusion

A designed landscape that was more significant in the past, when the parkland still existed, and there were notable wild gardening experiments carried out in the 1960s.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

No information available.

Site History

Dalgairn House was built in c.1770 for Henry Stark as part of "the Lands of Pittencrieff". By 1800, Dalgairn had passed to General John Dalyell of Lingo who was responsible for completing the interior plasterwork of the house. It is thought the garden was laid out around this time; there are no known designers. The 1st edition OS map of c.1860 provides the earliest map record of the policies. At that time the house appears to have been set within lawns ornamented by specimen trees which extended west down a gentle slope to the walled garden. The woodland was confined to the north-west corner and a shelterbelt which extended from the lawns around the house to the former eastern boundary.

It is not known for how long the Dalyells held Dalgairn, but at some time during the Victorian period, the estate passed to the Hannay family. They appear to have been responsible for additions to the house and for the additional planting around the house which can be seen by comparison of the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps.

The Hannay family held Dalgairn until 1963. It was then put on the market and remained unsold for a period of one year until purchased by Mr Roger Banks. At the time of the Banks' acquisition, a ring road was scheduled to be constructed to the south of the house across the walled garden and parks. In anticipation of this, a beech and mixed woodland plantation was established at the southern edge of the garden. The road project, however, was abandoned in the late 1970s. Mr Banks, a botanical artist, was responsible for the walled garden becoming a nature conservation paradise; maintenance was reduced to a minimum and where it was carried out it was confined to strictly natural methods. The old shrub roses which existed in the garden were retained and numerous rare wild flowers and perennials were established. Dalgairn was sold in 1982; the new owner was Mr George McQuitty who retained the house for some three years before selling it and part of the garden to the present owners, Mr and Mrs Kennedy. Mr McQuitty retained the walled garden, the remaining parkland and part of the woodland.


  • 18th Century
  • Late 18th Century
Features & Designations


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


  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
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  • Planting
  • Description: A wild woodland garden.
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  • Planting
  • Description: The walled garden.
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Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century


Part: standing remains






  • Historic Scotland