This is a small and intact estate where the various stages of landscape development throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries can be traced on the ground. The estate includes an oval bowling green.
Type of Site
A small composite landscape embodying features from the 18th and 19th centuries
Location and Setting
Errol Park is situated in the village of Errol in the Carse of Gowrie to the east of Perth, with the Braes of Carse to the north. It lies off the B958 and to the south of the A85. The estate lies behind a stone wall and cannot be seen from the road. From the house terrace there are fine views to the south over the Firth of Tay. Wide panoramic views of the Tay can be seen from the parkland.
The estate policies are approximately rectangular in shape and have always been compact. Historical maps show that the designed landscapes of Errol Park and the neighbouring Murie House were joined and there are a few sweet chestnut trees still growing between the two that may be a remnant of the former link. Murie House is no longer extant and although the old walled garden still exists, there is no discernible designed landscape left. There is an estate plan for Murie by Thomas White, but no such plans exist for Errol Park. No documents have yet been found that can confirm when the estates were joined and exactly what the landscape looked like. Timothy Pont's map of 1595 shows Errol House as one of the large houses in the Carse of Gowrie but makes no indication of a designed landscape. John Adair's map of 1685 shows Errol Park House and Murie House as large houses with formal designed landscapes on a similar scale to other Inventory designed landscapes in the area, like Glendoick and Megginch. General Roy's Military Survey of c.1750 shows Errol Park House with two small enclosures to the south, with Errol village lying to the north-east. Roy's survey also shows two large plantations running westwards including radiating avenues at their far western end which have been overlain by the present parks. There is no clear connection between Murie and Errol Park, but Roy's map was primarily a military survey and is not a detailed record of landscapes. The first connection appears on Stobie's map of 1783 which shows highly developed designed landscapes at Errol and Murie, connected by a formal tree avenue. The Knox map of 1850 shows more drives around Errol House than were evident on the 1783 map and also clearly shows the connecting avenue between the two estates. A piece of land in the south-west corner was brought into the park in the late 19th century thus extending the drive to the west side of the estate and necessitating the building of a new lodge.
The East Lodge and Entrance Gateway comprise a single-storey, late 19th-century lodge with hipped roof. The cast-iron gateway with a band of cartwheel decorations faces the village square. It provides an imposing screen which is extended by railings and stone piers on either side. The 19th-century South Lodge is single-storey sandstone under a slate roof with a stone parapet. The entrance gate has curved walls with cast-iron gates and railings. The piers are panelled and the central piers are topped by ball finials. Errol Park House, designed by Alexander Johnston 1875-7 is a two-storey house built in the 19th-century Renaissance style. A garden terrace runs around the south and west sides of the house. The Stables to the north take the form of a circular courtyard with clock tower. The stables block was constructed in 1811 to a design by John Paterson. The tall north tower sits over a pedimented entrance which is square at the base. This octagonal structure was built by Johnston and Baxter in 1899 with a clock by Vulliamy, London, dated 1830. The Farmyard and Offices north of the stables are in a diluted English vernacular style with barge-boards. A stone Folly Tower with Gothic windows is situated to the west of the mansion in an area of woodland called The Maze. The folly tower dates from c.1747 and apparently has been moated in the past. The two-compartmented Walled Garden lies to the west of the house. The compartment next to the house belongs to the mid 18th century, the period of the earlier house, and includes battered brick copings. The second compartment, which adjoins the former on the west, is 19th-century with stone wall copings and door quoins. Part of the south wall is opened up, incorporating a clairvoie (clear viewing area) with central entrance gateway consisting of stone pillars with ball finials and a simple wrought-iron gate. The 19th-century glass-houses have been partly demolished and replaced but the original tiled floor survives. A 19th-century octagonal stem Sundial stands in the rose garden which was created on the site of part of the demolished glass-houses. The estate is surrounded by a Stone Wall.
Drives and Approaches
The approaches to Errol have been altered and added to over the years. Old estate plans of 1834 show an entrance from the north that curved through the park. This may relate to the 18th-century approach shown on General Roy's Military Survey c. 1750. Productive farmland now covers where this old drive was. An 1858 survey shows an avenue from the north, to the east of the entrance mentioned above, which is aligned on the stables. Although now redundant as an approach, part of this alignment still survives, with the 19th-century farm court built across it. To the east from the village of Errol a drive which joins the above at right angles is marked by a one-storey, 19th-century lodge, called North Lodge. To the south of this another lodge, East Lodge, was built in the late 19th century, probably contemporary with the present house. This has a two-way drive: one to the stables and one to the main front of the house. In the 19th century a piece of land to the west was added to the policies. On this was built the West Lodge and a longer and more picturesque approach to the house provided an approach through the parkland and past a Wellingtonia avenue planted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. The South Lodge and driveway approach shown on the 1834 estate survey is probably of the same period as North Lodge. This is the main approach to the house today.
Despite later planting, the parkland at Errol still retains much 18th-century regularity. This is emphasised by the straight lines of the recent coniferous perimeter belt which contains the policies to the north, and the estate boundary wall which serves the same purpose on the south. There does not seem to have been any deliberate attempt at planting trees in clumps within the parks, rather an even scatter, particularly oak, in the parks to the north. One of the old north approaches is now lost within a conifer plantation to the north. An old boundary plantation runs north-west from the South Lodge and then turns north, terminating in an area called The Maze. Contained within this is a moated Gothic folly tower. As the name suggests, a maze of yew surrounded the Gothic tower.
The garden is roughly rectangular and lies to the south, east and west of the house. Certain elements within the garden, particularly the old yew walk running west from the house, confirm that this was the site of the garden of the 18th-century house.
The 19th-century house has a stone terrace around the south and west fronts. There were originally steps at each of the terrace corners, now reduced to one central flight. The terrace wall is decorated with ball finials. The planting is of close clipped shrubs such as cotoneaster. The main area of garden runs westwards from the house alongside the two walled gardens, and includes an oval bowling green with turf banks, possibly 19th-century.
A gently winding path runs from the west terrace through this main area of garden and links with a beech walk which leads to The Maze. The garden was planted with specimen conifers at the time of building of the new house. These include species such as Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii'), Dunkeld larch (Larix x eurolepis), Umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). A small orchard stands at the far end of the garden next to a rustic summerhouse, beyond which a small area of trees and shrubs lies on the perimeter of garden and park.
Outside the western end of the 19th-century walled garden are the remains of some old yew hedging which may relate to an earlier 18th-century garden. Judging from their appearance they have been trees which have been reduced to a hedge at quite a late stage. They possibly relate to the yew walk mentioned above. Other shrubberies have been planted by the present owners.
There are two adjoining walled gardens at Errol. The one nearer the house is probably contemporary with the earlier house and is now empty. Part of the 19th-century walled garden which was added with the building of the new house is used for growing vegetables and fruit for the house. The rest is fenced off and used for grazing.
- 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
A small and intact estate where the various stages of landscape development throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries can be traced on the ground. The estate includes an oval bowling green.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
18th, 19th and 20th centuries
The Errol estate came to the Heriot-Maitlands through the Hays of Errol who had been in the Carse of Gowrie since the 10th century. Prior to the present house which was built 1875-7 to designs by Alexander Johnston, there was another house which a contemporary engraving, Fair Land of Gowrie by Lawrence Melville. This shows it to be an early 18th-century house of three bays with a hipped roof and central pediment. This house was destroyed by fire in 1874, just after extensive improvements by the then owner, Mr Molison. The present house is thought to stand on the site of the old house.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Domestic / Residential
Open to the public