Doune Park has an early-19th-century designed landscape with late-19th- and early-20th-century additions. It is noted for its arboretum and gardens, which were restored in the late-20th century.
Type of Site
An early 19th century designed landscape of parkland, policy woodland and fine specimen trees incorporating an arboretum, Japanese garden and walled garden.
Location and Setting
Doune Park is situated in the valley of the River Teith approximately 2 miles (3km) north-west of the town of Doune and 5 miles (8km) west of Dunblane. The A84 (T) forms the southern boundary of the policies. Hills surround the estate on three sides: to the north lie the Braes of Doune, to the south lie the Fintry, Gargunnock and Touch Hills, and to the west lie the Menteith Hills and the Trossachs which rise to Ben Ledi 2,884' (879m) and Ben Venue 2,385' (727m). To the east, on the outskirts of Stirling, the River Teith joins the River Forth which then meanders through its broad floodplain on its way to the Firth of Forth. The hill ranges which surround Doune provide considerable shelter from the prevailing weather conditions.
The Buchany Burn flows through the policies to the west of the house in a hollow around which the gardens are situated. This situation renders the gardens susceptible to frost which retards spring growth by some three weeks in comparison to other local gardens. Soils are formed mainly on sand and gravel and are slightly acid. Land use in the valley is largely agricultural, and is managed by the Doune estate and its neighbour, Lanrick Castle. Parts of the upland areas are afforested. Doune Park is situated in an elevated position facing south-east from which point fine views are gained to the Teith Valley and the surrounding hills. Doune Park itself is highly significant in the landscape especially when viewed from the A84 (T) with the parkland in the foreground and the dark background of the woodlands providing a contrast to the crisp lines of the white painted building.
Doune Park stands within some 267 acres (108ha) of designed landscape which extends north along the Buchany Burn to Cambuswallace Wood and south to the A84 (T). To the west, the policies extend to Brokentree Wood, on the banks of the Annet Burn and east to the woodland on Carse Hill. Documentary evidence of the designed landscape is confined to the 1st edition OS map of 1869 and the 2nd edition of c.1900. Comparison of these maps and the OS current edition indicates that the extent of the designed landscape remains similar today to that of the mid-19th century. The Motor Museum has been established to the east of the parkland in the settlement which was known as Carse of Cambus.
Doune Park was built c.1802 around an older, earlier house. Additions were made to the east wing around c.1913 to the design of William Deas. The quadrangular stable-block, built around the time of the house, was designed by William Stirling of Dunblane. It has an octagonal steeple with short leaded spire and a clock, dated 1809. The Lodgehouse, is located at the end of the west drive. The centre porch dates from 1825 whilst the ashlar piers date from 1897.
The garden house stands to the north of the walled garden and is thought to have been built c.1825. The walled garden dates from the early 19th century. A sundial stands in the centre of the garden. The kennels and other associated farm buildings were built in the late 19th century on a site to the north-west of the stables. The Duck House is situated at the south end of the gardens.
The parkland lies to the west and south of the house. Reference to the 1st edition OS map indicates that it extended east only as far as the Buchany Burn but today it extends beyond to the access road of the Motor Museum. The drive to Doune Park sweeps through the park from the Lodgehouse. Many individual parkland trees still stand in the park, mainly oak, lime and sycamore dating from the early 19th century. A clump of trees indicated on the 1st edition OS map remains to the south-east of the house. New trees, including horse chestnut species, have recently been planted.
The woodlands at Doune are a mix of deciduous and coniferous species, many planted by the present owner (1987). Cambuswallace and Carsehill Woods are coniferous plantations. The latter is linked to Dovecot Park Wood by a fine beech hanger which is significant from the gardens and the house.
The garden and arboretum are situated between the house and the walled garden and extend north along the glen of the Buchany Burn. Reference to the 1st edition OS map shows the area to have been wooded in 1869. A path runs from the north side of the house to the arboretum which was established in the late 19th century on the east- facing slope of the glen. It includes coniferous species, many of which were measured by Alan Mitchell in 1980. In a previous publication of 1974 (A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain & Northern Europe), he had described the specimens of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana and C. nootkatensis as being the largest in Scotland. The footpath continues north to the hollow of the Buchany Burn where the 17th Earl had developed the Japanese Garden between 1910-30. It includes some fine Japanese Acers, Magnolia, Sorbus and a fine cut-leaf beech, Fagus sylvatica Heterophylla, which have been underplanted by species Rhododendron and Azalea. A detailed description of plant material in the understorey is given by Peter Verney in 'The Gardens of Scotland' (c.1970), but many of these have been lost in recent years.
From the Japanese Garden, the footpath and burn emerge into an open lawn which was once closely mown. The island shrub beds described by Verney have gone. The summerhouse thought to date from c.1825 stands on the east bank of the Burn which flows out through the 'flat meadow lands' which had been drained and levelled in the 19th century. The burn has been canalised along the west side of the walled garden and the cascades remain along its length, as do stone and timber bridges across it. The area on either side of the Burn was overgrown by 1968 and was subsequently cleared to expose the walled garden. Flowering shrubs were planted along the outer walls of the garden and daffodils were established across the lawns.
The walled garden is thought to date from the 1820s. Its original layout is thought to have been divided into four regular compartments by intersecting paths, as indicated on the 1st edition OS map of 1869. The garden was ploughed during World War II and was used subsequently as a tree nursery.
In 1968 the gardens were restored with the aim of creating a garden with interest at all times of the year which would attract the public. The original structure was kept but only the north-east compartment retained the traditional use of fruit and vegetable cultivation for the house; the north- west area was a Rose Garden, whilst the south- west area was a shrub garden and the south-east area an autumn garden. Double herbaceous borders ran down the west/east axis, whilst double annual borders lined the north/south axis; both were centred on a Sundial which was moved to the garden from its former site in front of the house. The Sundial remains, as do the hedges which divided the compartments, but the maintenance of the garden has ceased and the garden has become overgrown. Views down into the garden are gained from the footpath through the arboretum.
- Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts
Telephone0131 668 8600
Access contact details
The site is open daily in the summer season, with more restricted opening hours in the winter months.
The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Scotland website:
Reason for Inclusion
A significant designed landscape, most notable for its architectural features, fine gardens, specimen trees in the arboretum and the contribution the whole composition makes to the surrounding scenery.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Early 19th century with embellishments in the late 19th century and between 1910-30 and restoration in 1968.
The designed landscape of Doune Park was laid out following the construction of the house in the early 19th century. There are no known designers. Embellishments were made in the later 19th century, and between 1910-30. The gardens were restored in 1968.
The original seat of the Stuart family was Doune Castle which is situated on the south- east edge of the town of Doune, the earliest records of which date from 1381. James Stuart, 1st Earl of Moray, was the natural son of James V, who became chief adviser to Mary Queen of Scots and was made Regent of Scotland at her request in 1567. In his lifetime, and throughout the subsequent centuries, Doune figured frequently in political and other historical events. In the 18th century, the Castle fell into disrepair, and the 10th Earl of Moray (1771-1848) sought to build a new house. In the early years of the 19th century, c.1800, he purchased the lands of Cambuswallace from the Edmonstone family, a branch of the Edmonstones of Duntreath. He built the present Doune Park, the associated farm and lodge buildings and is thought to have laid out the designed landscape to the form shown on the 1st edition OS map of 1868.
Improvement work in the gardens was implemented in the late 19th century when the arboretum was first established. The 17th Earl, Morton Gray Stuart, inherited the estate in 1909. He was a botanist and he planted extensively in the gardens but his plans were not completed when he died in 1930. The gardens were not maintained and remained so with the onset of World War II.
In 1968 the 20th Earl of Moray began a programme of improvement work in the gardens under the direction of Mr Bill Edgar, the Gardens Manager. The walled garden was given a new layout and the link between it and the Motor Museum, established by Lord Moray in 1970, was strengthened with the aim of attracting museum visitors to visit the gardens. In recent years, the management of the gardens has ceased.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Domestic / Residential
Open to the public