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Innes House


Apart from some earlier parkland, the formal garden, rose garden and arboretum at Innes House date from the early-20th century. The formal garden is divided by yew hedges and contains a pool and herbaceous borders. The arboretum was created in part of the original parkland and has been continuously planted since the early-20th century. Innes House is open as a corporate and wedding venue.

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

Innes House is situated on the flat coastal plain of Morayshire approximately 2 miles (4km) from the coast and some 4.5 miles (7km) north-east of the city of Elgin. The name Innes probably comes from 'Inis' - the ancient Gaelic for island, as the original seat of the Innes family is thought to have been a fortress on what was then an island in the coastal marshes. The site is bounded by minor access roads to neighbouring farms. Shelterbelts are a feature of the landscape and restrict the views into the park from the surrounding area. The main view from within the designed landscape is south to Ben Rinnes.

The house stands in the north-west of the designed landscape which extends north to Cotts of Innes, south to the Home Farm, west to Jointure Wood and east to East Lodge. The designed landscape was extended in c.1767 by the 2nd Earl Fife as shown by comparison of General Roy's map of c.1750 with the 1st edition OS of c.1850. The structure of the designed landscape has remained similar since then.

The flat nature of the landscape renders the site relatively inward-looking, apart from the view south to Ben Rinnes through designed gaps in the woodland boundary. Prior to 1911, the main drive swept through the park and approached the house from the south side. In 1911, it was too narrow for the new carriages and a new entrance from the south-west was made. The east and north entrances are now disused, and access is by the west drive through Jointure Wood. The designed landscape includes some 456 acres (185ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Innes House, listed A, is a large L-plan tower house of four storeys. It was begun in 1640 to the designs of William Ayton for Robert Innes. It was reputed then to be one of the largest and most regularly planned houses in Scotland, its straight staircases being a novel feature. Two wings were added c.1770 but were removed during Victorian alterations commissioned by the 5th Earl Fife. A new main entrance on the north face of the house was added in developments between 1911-16 to the designs of an assistant of Sir Robert Lorimer. The house has recently been converted into flats.

The stable-block and garages, listed C(S), date from the 1911-16 development period and replaced an earlier structure which was attached to the west side of the house. The Walled Garden, Mark's Garden and summerhouse are collectively listed B and were designed by Walker & Duncan in 1916. The 17th century sundial is also listed B. The North Lodge, listed C(S), was built in 1872 in the Baronial style to the designs of Marshall McKenzie. The East Lodge, gatepiers and gates, listed B, are 19th century. The gatepiers, gates and screen walls on the West Drive, collectively listed C(S), were put up in c.1950. The Laundry has been converted for residential use. A Cross, listed B, at Loch-hill was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1918 to commemorate Captain Mark Tennant. The Home Farm, listed B, is dated 1843 and is situated to the south of the house.


The park extends to the north, south and east of the house as shown on the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps. There appears to have been a marked reduction in the number of trees in the park between 1850-1910.

Since 1910, and the development of the arboretum, the park has been divided and reduced in size. A small area of parkland to the west of the West Drive has been planted with conifers. The former lawn to the north of the house has been put down to sheep grazing, but it is planned to return it to lawn.


The outlying woods to the north and west of the house are now largely coniferous and are managed on a commercial basis, but there are some beech about 200 years old and lime of about 100 years on the edge of the drive to the West Lodge that appear to have been planted as an avenue. This may be the remains of the 'fine, broad avenue' described in the OS Gazetteer of 1883. On the south side of the East Drive, the trees are a mix of young sycamore and chestnut with some older beech and ash. All have been allowed to naturally regenerate.

An area to the east of Innes Cottage and the Home Farm is shown on the 1st & 2nd edition maps as open land. On the former map, a summerhouse is indicated; this has since disappeared and the area has been planted as deciduous woodland.

The Gardens

Following the removal of the main entrance of the house from the south side, the Tennants built rubble walls to enclose their new garden in 1916, and the yew hedges which form the garden compartments were planted. Some of those compartments have since been altered but the structure remains. Fine herbaceous borders extend north to south in the middle of the garden on either side of the Italian sundial. A childrens' paddling pool forms the centre of the southern compartment and a larger swimming pool replaced a rose garden and fountain in the west compartment on the site of the old stables. At the front of the house is a statue of a deer, the game larder and some topiary hedges. The rose garden, 'Mark's garden', at the east side of the house, was created on the site of the former chapel to commemorate Captain Mark Tennant who died in battle in 1916. The shrine and cross erected to his memory in the garden were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. Immediately outwith the east wall of the formal garden where the old drive and 'Sandy Walk' used to be, are the azalea walk and spring garden laid out by Captain Tennant's father. Some of the plants in the garden were recently removed by Captain and Lady Margaret Tennant to their new home at Loch-na-bo.

Walled Garden

The site of the kitchen garden lies to the north of the East Drive, half a mile south-east from the house. The Sandy Walk from the house to the kitchen garden is grassed over and the kitchen garden itself is disused and surrounded by woodland. The walls were removed by Captain Tennant although the greenhouse remains in the centre, and pheasant pens occupy much of the space. Two mature yew trees on the East Drive mark what was once the entrance. A new kitchen garden was added to the south of the walled ornamental garden by the house, as shown on the map and aerial photograph in the 'Trees at Innes 1981' brochure. This garden was used for commercial fruit growing but has recently been removed, being surplus to requirements.


Planting of the arboretum in the south-east corner of the park was begun after the Tennant family came to Innes and has been kept up. There are many fine trees; among them Arbutus menziesii, Eucalyptus gunnii and Magnolia hypoleuca, which are documented by Alistair Scott of the Forestry Commission in a brochure available to the public, and which were measured by Alan Mitchell in 1980. New trees are planted to commemorate special occasions.

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 beautiful gardens and outstanding collection of trees in the arboretum provide a valuable setting for the category A-listed house.

Site History

The designed landscape dates from the second half of the 18th century when the 2nd Earl Fife carried out many major agricultural improvements. Further developments were made by the 4th Earl c.1825. Since 1910 the gardens have been remodelled, the arboretum established and the present entrance to the north of the House created.

The lands of the barony of Innes were granted to the first laird, Beorald the Fleming, by Malcolm IV in 1160. Sir Robert Innes, the 24th Laird, who had been created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1624, built Innes House on the present site between 1640- 1653. The only documentary map evidence of the designed landscape prior to this time is provided by General Roy's map of c.1750 although Tait refers to Thomas Winter working at Innes in 1747 (SRO GD/248/173/2). In 1767, Sir James Innes, the 6th Baronet, sold the lands to James Duff, 2nd Earl Fife, a powerful political figure at that time. The 2nd Earl added two wings to the house, planted up the policies and modernised the whole estate. Many improvements were also made by the 4th Earl, who spent the last years of his life at Innes, from 1825, following law-suits establishing his claims to the Fife estates. His nephew, the 5th Earl, who succeeded in 1857, carried out the extensive Victorian alterations. In 1889, the 6th Earl Fife married HRH Princess Marie-Louise, eldest daughter of Edward VII and was created Duke of Fife. He subsequently sold the estate to a Mr Mackenzie, who leased it before selling in 1910 to Mr F.J. Tennant.

The Tennants made extensive alterations to the house, effectively turning it back to front by making the new main entrance at the north front and the gardens were laid out in the structure seen today. Captain Iain Tennant, the present laird, succeeded in 1946. In 1976 he moved from the house to Loch-na-bo Lodge nearby, after the conversion of the house into flats in 1947. His son now lives at Innes in a private apartment retained for family use.


Early 20th Century (1901-1932)

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: A Cross, designed by Robert Lorimer
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Home farm
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Stable block and garages
  • Grade: C(S)
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: The walled garden, Mark's garden and summerhouse
  • Grade: B


  • Sundial
  • Country House (featured building)
  • Description: Innes House, listed A, is a large L-plan tower house of four storeys. It was begun in 1640 to the designs of William Ayton for Robert Innes. It was reputed then to be one of the largest and most regularly planned houses in Scotland.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Herbaceous Border
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: Arboretum.
  • Pool
Key Information


Country Estate



Principal Building



Early 20th Century (1901-1932)








  • Historic Scotland