The early-17th-century walled garden at Guthrie Castle sits within a designed landscape dating from the late-18th to the early-19th century. The horseshoe-shaped walled garden is divided into four compartments by mid-19th-century topiary hedging. There is also an early-20th-century wild garden and a lake in the parkland formed by widening the Lunan Water, which flows through the policies.
Location and Setting
Guthrie Castle is situated in Angus District about 7 miles (11 km) east of Forfar along the A932. It lies in the valley of the Lunan Water which flows through the Guthrie policies and through its flat agricultural setting which extends some 8 miles to the east coast. Guthrie Hill rises gently to 479' (146m) to the north of the Castle, and the best views from the Castle are to the west and south. Fine panoramic views can be obtained from the Castle battlements. The view of the Castle from the A932 to the south is blocked by the raised railway embankment built in 1836, but views of the parks and woodlands are obtained from the minor road to the north of the policies.
The extent of the designed landscape has remained stable over many years; it extends from the west drive entrance on the A932, north to the minor road to the Mains, eastwards to Cotton of Guthrie and south to Guthrie village. The Caledonian railway cut off the south margin of the policies in 1836 and runs parallel to the main road. The south park has been planted with coniferous clumps since the last war. The loch was established between the 1st edition map in 1860 and the 2nd edition map in 1910. In 1860 the west drive followed a path along the river, but south of where the loch is today. The present west drive has been built to the north of the loch, providing a spectacular view across the loch as the Castle is approached. Prior to the railway, another drive entered from the south-east of the house, curved across the river, and drew up to the south front of the house, again providing a view of the principal rooms on arrival. Today the drive approaches from the west side of the house. There are 118 acres (48ha) in the designed landscape today.
The Castle is a three-storey tower house of c.1468 attached by the addition of a Tudor Gothic wing in 1818 to a mansion house of 1760, remodelled and extended by David Bryce in 1848; it is listed B. To the east is a small building, possibly originally a game larder, now with decorative windows. The walled garden is horseshoe-shaped and is listed B. The walls contain a Doric portico, a garden house on the north wall, a two-storey apple store in the west wall and a pinnacled East Gate to the stables. The stables are still in use as stables, and there is an Ice House to the west of the main drive. The West Gate is a huge Gothic entrance, built to carry the old Caledonian Railway in 1838. The lower half is ivy clad, and the entrance is surrounded by the Guthrie Crest. The East Lodge is being renovated. A 17th century sundial north of the drive near the woodland garden is listed B. Nearby is the 1601 archway to the old garden in which the castle yett has been set; it is also listed B.
The parks to the south of the house are let for grazing and contain the coniferous roundel plantings of about 30 years in age. The lawn adjacent to the south-east front of the house is used as a paddock. The west park has been planted up to form the wild garden and the north west parks remain with deciduous clump plantings. The east park is now cropped. Boundary trees include sycamore and beech, and beech hedges line the north and east boundaries. The north drive is now closed. The main drive from the West Gate is lined with beech, and ornamental trees. More ornamental trees have been planted along the East Drive to Guthrie village including Wellingtonias and copper beech with Rhododendron underplanting. The former main south drive was planted with limes, but has fallen into disuse since the railway severed its entrance in 1838.
The policy woodlands are mainly shelter and avenue plantings. Colonel Guthrie planted young plantations of mixed deciduous trees on the eastern boundary and coniferous blocks to the south-east of the Castle. Avenue trees date from c.1850 or earlier.
The Lunan Water flows through the policies to the south of the Castle and has been broadened into an ornamental lake between the west drive and the Castle. The burn is canalised in front of the house with a small weir leading from the loch.
The wild garden was planted out by Colonel Ivan Guthrie in 1925. At its entrance is the former orchard walled garden arch with the castle yett, with a silver birch avenue leading to it. The garden itself is planted with Azaleas, maples, bulbs, hybrid Rhododendron, Meconopsis and Primulas, and it is at its best in May. A tennis court is concealed to the west beyond the silver birch avenue.
This garden is laid out in a series of terraces on the gently-sloping, south- facing hill directly to the north of the Castle. Its structure has remained the same since the mid 1800s at least, although the walls date from 1614. It is divided into four compartments by topiaried hedges and there is a central pond. The upper northern half is terraced in three stages with lawns, rose beds and herbaceous borders below the garden house in the north wall. A heather garden has recently been developed on the upper terrace. The glasshouse on the east wall was removed in 1981 and replaced with a barbecue; a fig tree remains. There is still some glass to the east of the walled garden. The southern half of the garden was used partly for vegetables and partly for flowers, with fruit and rose bushes espaliered on the walls. The apple house in the west wall still contains drying-racks.
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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 walled garden at Guthrie Castle dates from 1614 and the extended designed landscape from the 18th and 19th centuries. Together with the castle, they form a very artistic composition.
The walled garden dates from 1614; the designed landscape was extended in the late 18th century/early 19th century and the wild garden was planted in the 1920s.
The Guthrie family ancestry dates back to the earliest recorded times; documents in the family muniments date back to 1296, when earlier records were destroyed. However, tradition has it that a Guthrie held the office of Chief Falconer to Malcolm Canmore (III). Sir David Guthrie was made the 1st Baronet in 1465; he became Treasurer to James III and obtained a warrant from him in 1468 to build a castle with a yett. He married Margaret, daughter of the 3rd Lord Glamis, and was succeeded by his brother Richard, Abbot of Arbroath, as his sons had been killed at Flodden. Sir David's grandson succeeded his brother. In 1760 the square keep was abandoned in favour of a new mansion built close to it and, in 1848, John Guthrie of Guthrie commissioned David Bryce to alter the mansion and link it with the old tower. The yett was removed at this period and fitted to the stone gateway to the wild garden. A great deal of planting was carried out by Colonel Ivan Guthrie from the 1920s up until his death in 1951. The Guthrie family continued to live in the Castle until 1981, when it was sold with planning permission for conversion into a time-share holiday complex. In 1984 it was again on the market. Mr & Mrs Pena rescued it and began the task of restoration.
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- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Castle (featured building)
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- Description: A Doric portico at the entrance to the walled garden.
- Garden Building
- Description: Apple store in west wall of walled garden.
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- Garden Wall
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- Key Information
Open to the public