The combination of Grant Park and Cluny Hill provide a public park of variety, great scenic significance and value for both recreation and nature conservation.
Type of Site
Public park for Forres with woodlands and cemetery developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Location and Setting
The park is located to the east of Forres town centre in Morayshire. Its northern boundary is defined by Victoria Road, its eastern boundary by Clovenside Road and Edgehill Road, and its southern boundary by Saint Leonard's Road. The northern slopes of Cluny Hill overlook the town and beyond to the Moray Firth. Its southern slopes afford panoramic views inland over a foreground of Muiryshade Golf Course and peripheral parts of the town. The park, and especially Cluny Hill, is a prominent feature in the local scenery, important for its contribution to the setting of the town. The public area of the park was initially Cluny Hill, divorced from the town by the private gardens of Forres House. After 1922 Grant Park was developed and the public park extended to meet Victoria Road. The park has remained unchanged in its extent since that time and measures 40 ha (99).
Nelson's Tower, designed by Charles Stewart in 1806, is a tall octagonal four storey, harled tower with ashlar margins. It has Gothic windows and a corbelled and crenellated parapet above. Four plaques commemorate the battles of the Nile, Copenhagen, Trafalgar and the building of the tower. Cluny Hill Cemetery has a number of architectural components including its Gate Lodge, perimeter railings and monuments.
Grant Park contains the Gate Lodge to the former Forres House and two modern recreational buildings: the Cricket Pavilion and Bowling Pavilion. Cluny Hill House is a smart regency house, with a flat pavilion roof, entered through a recessed, pedimented portico.
Drives and Approaches
The main entrance to Grant Park is from Victoria Road via the Forres House Lodge and drive. The latter runs south westwards, beneath a distinctive avenue of deodar cedars and limes, towards the site of the former Forres House (now a sunken garden). This tree lined drive runs roughly parallel with Victoria Road and separates an ornamental area of parkland from the playing fields to the south. The drive branches to the Cricket Pavilion and gives access to the Bowling Green.
There are several footpath routes into and through Grant Park, however, the main footpath is clearly defined by an avenue of limes planted in the early part of the twentieth century. This footpath connects Grant Park to Cluny Hill and runs from South Street towards the cemetery. It separates two areas of open parkland; to the north is the cricket pitch and to the south are football pitches.
Cluny Hill is accessed by a network of drives which climb on winding ramps cutting into the hill and are supported by retaining structures in several places. The majority of the drives are unmetalled; the main exceptions being the access to the cemetery and to Findhorn College. Access to the Cluny Hill drives can be obtained from five locations around the hill's perimeter.
Paths and Walks
Cluny Hill Cemetery is discretely located within a bowl on Cluny Hill. It is further enclosed by the mature woodlands around its perimeter. The cemetery has a distinctive character due to its evergreen, mostly false cypress, tree planting. It is enclosed by cast iron railings and has a gate Lodge.
Grant Park represents the parkland component of the site. It is predominantly mown grass sloping gently from the base of Cluny Hill. In its centre is a cricket pitch enclosed by subtle grass terraces. The northern area, enclosed by the main drive, contains elaborate bedding displays visible from Victoria Road. The remainder of the parkland serves as amenity open space and for football.
Mature woodland covers the Cluny Hills, except for the cemetery area. The woodland comprises plantations of Scots Pine and stands of mixed broadleaves. There are also local concentrations of ornamental trees and shrubs, for example, in the vicinity of Nelson's Tower.
The site of Forres House at the north west corner of the park has recently been developed as a sunken formal garden. It employs some of the old masonry walls to define its perimeter and includes pools, fountains and bedding areas.
A modern Bowling Green and pavilion has been developed adjacent to the Sunken Garden. The green is enclosed by a clipped privet hedge.
- 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 combination of Grant Park and Cluny Hill provide a public park of variety, great scenic significance and value for both recreation and nature conservation. The site was developed in two phases; the Cluny Hill woodland park and cemetery were developed in the early part of the nineteenth century; Grant Park was developed in the 1920s after the acquisition of Forres House by the Town Council.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
The site was developed in two phases; the Cluny Hill woodland park and cemetery were developed in the early part of the nineteenth century; Grant Park was developed in the 1920s after the acquisition of Forres House by the Town Council.
The designed landscape at Grant Park was developed in the early nineteenth century around two houses, Cluny Hill House and Forres House, the home first of the Tulloch family and later the Cummings of Altyre. In 1856, on one of the Cluny Hills, a monument to Nelson's victories at the Battles of Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), and Trafalgar (1805) was built, paid for by public subscription, and paths were laid out around it. In 1838, Evan MacColl visited 'Clunie Hills' and described his visit in 'Towns in the North of Scotland', noting 'the view altogether a magnificent one.'
During the 1840s, Forres Town Council took over the care of Nelson's Tower from the Trafalgar Club. The council proposed the development of Cluny Hill Cemetery and a caretaker's cottage. The cemetery was opened in 1848 and its situation and extent is shown on the 1st Edition OS map of 1873.
In 1922, Forres House and gardens were put up for sale and were purchased by Forres Town Council for £5,000. Sir Alexander Grant gifted money for the purchase, together with a further £1,000 for the laying out of a public park in 1924. The Town Council recorded that Sir Alexander stated 'the community of Forres does not take advantage of the Cluny Hills as they ought' the beauty spot is now opened up by Sir Alexander's great gift.'
In 1971, Forres House burned down and the remains were demolished. The site of the house is commemorated by a sunken garden designed by Alistair Sinclair. The park is now managed by the Technical and Leisure Services Department.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Parks, Gardens And Urban Spaces
Open to the public