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The designed landscape at Elvingston House is associated with the mid-19th-century house. There is 19th-century parkland with some 20th-century plantings, a shrubbery, a kitchen garden and orchard. The gardens are known for the development of rare daffodil breeds during the ownership of Sir David Lowe between 1944 and 1980. A newly-built Science Centre opened in the grounds in the late-20th century.

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:

Location and Setting

Elvingston is situated 3 miles (5km) from Haddington and approximately 2.5 miles (4km) from the south shore of the Firth of Forth. The house is set at 90m above sea level in a flat agricultural landscape, reclaimed from marshland. The underlying geology is of the Carboniferous series and the soil here is heavy but fertile. The designed landscape is bounded by shelterbelts and by the minor road bordering the east side which leads to Longniddry from the main A1(T) to the south. There are extensive views across the fields and the woodlands at Elvingston are significant features in the surrounding scenery.

The designed landscape was laid out in the first half of the 19th century, superimposed on an earlier farm shown on Roy's map of 1750. The layout has remained similar from the 1st edition map of 1853 until recently when some of the parkland has been cropped. Unusually there are more parkland trees shown on the 2nd edition map of c.1900 than on the 1st edition series. The house is set facing south across the south park with extensive views both north and south. There are 205 acres (83ha) in the designed landscape.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Elvingston House is a three-storeyed, early Victorian mansion house with Scots Jacobean features and a pepperpot turret at the east end; it is statutorily listed and was designed by John Tait in 1837. The office court dates from the same period and lies immediately to the east of the house. The front is one-storeyed with attic loft windows. Two pepperpot turrets which frame an arch within the courtyard are visible above the facade roof.

The Doocot is situated in the north of the courtyard; it is three- tiered, cylindrical and castellated with two porthole windows and 860 nesting- boxes. It is noted in the listings but ungraded. The steading at Trabraun is dated 1830 although it is based on an earlier farm which appears on Roy's 1750 map. This has a tower over the entrance arch which contains another doocot. There are several other estate buildings including the South and East Lodges and the Gardener's Cottage.


The south park is still grazed by cattle and contains many fine parkland trees dating from c.1830 with new plantings at various times, including some younger trees planted by Sir David Lowe. Species include oak, beech, chestnut, elm, silver birch and some later conifers. The roundel remains in the park to the south of the house. Some young cherry trees have been planted along the East Drive. To the north of the offices and shrubbery, the north park has been put to field crops although some of the park trees remain, notably a Monkey puzzle, retained along a field boundary.


The shooting potential of the estate is being developed and the woodlands are consequently well managed and new planting is being undertaken. Species include oak, beech, sycamore, spruce and larch. Woodland strips have been retained as shelterbelts around the policies.

The Gardens

The shrubbery lies to the west of the house. It was probably originally planted up by the Ainslies although little of horticultural interest remains today. The lawn is screened and sheltered by high hedges of yew and laurel and ornamental shrubs were planted within the garden including rhododendrons and lilac. There is a large Cedar of Lebanon in the shrubbery.

Walled Garden

There is a high walled kitchen garden to the west of the house, south of the shrubbery. It has an extensive range of glasshouses along the south-facing wall which are today used for pot plants and propagations. In Sir David Lowe's time, the walled garden was intensively used for breeding rare daffodils, although it still retained some box hedges and a herbaceous border along its north/south axis. Alan Little commented on the wide range of fruit grown along the walls, and many fruit trees remain today. Part of the garden is now given over to pheasant rearing.

The orchard still exists to the west of the walled garden, although it is not so intensively managed now as in the past. The Hyacinth Walk which divided it has been lost since Sir David's time.

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

The parkland and woodland make an important to the surrounding scenery around Elvingston and the gardens are notable for the development of daffodil varieties.

Site History

There are no design plans or records at the house and there are no known landscape designers involved.

There are no documents or plans available at the house today and little is known of the early history of Elvingston. The mansion was owned until 1944 by the Ainslie family and was well maintained during their ownership. The shrubbery was probably established by the Ainslies and they were responsible for much tree planting in the parks and shelter woodlands. In 1944 the farm and mansion were bought by Sir David Lowe whose family farmed in the neighbourhood. Much of the land at Elvingston was devoted to market gardening and especially to fruit production. Alan Little, visiting in the 1980s, recorded the 'boughs hung with white blossom' covering 22 acres around the farm. Sir David's hobby, which has lent a distinctive character to the polices at Elvingston, was to breed rare daffodils. He acquired some of his Narcissi stock from the Brodie of Brodie and he concentrated on pale yellow varieties. Sir David Lowe died in 1980 and the estate now belongs to Mayfield Estates Co. The house has been leased for residential use for the last three years. As from June 1987, the house is for sale.


Victorian (1837-1901)

Associated People
Features & Designations


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


  • Doocot
  • Description: A castellated doocot with 860 nesting boxes.
  • Statue
  • Description: 'Janice del la Mar', a reclining nude mounted on a fountain.
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Victorian (1837-1901)





Open to the public


Electoral Ward





  • Historic Scotland