The designed landscape at Kinfauns Castle is associated with the early-19th-century house. It is known for its mid-19th century arboretum, which contains many specimen conifers.
Type of Site
An early 19th century picturesque designed landscape of parkland and woodlands with a mid 19th century arboretum and walks, formal garden and walled kitchen garden which is now (2011) occupied by private houses.
Location and Setting
Kinfauns Castle is situated on a raised terrace on the edge of Kinnoull Hill approximately 2 miles (3km) east of the city of Perth. The A85(T) and the Perth/Dundee railway line form the southern boundary of the designed landscape and, immediately beyond, lies the River Tay. The wooded hills of the Kinfauns Forest rise to the north and form a fine towering backdrop to the Castle. To the south and east of the Castle lie the flat agricultural carse lands of the Tay. Fine long views can be gained east along the banks of the Tay and south, beyond the river, to Fife. The Deuchny Burn flows through the policies to the west of the Castle forming a shallow valley in which the gardens were developed. The North Lodge stands at the junction of the Deuchny Burn and the old Perth/Dundee road which runs between the park and Deuchny Wood. A tower is sited on each of the two hills immediately to the west and east of the Castle. These towers and the wooded hills on which they stand are highly significant features in the local landscape.
Kinfauns Castle is situated within some 152 ha (376 acres) of designed landscape which extends north to Deuchny Wood, south to the A85, west to the woodlands on Kinnoull Hill, and east to the woodland on Binn Hill. A 19th century account of Kinfauns, written soon after the completion of the Castle in the 1820s, described the site as one of 'singular and romantic grandeur'.
Documentary evidence of the development of the designed landscape is provided by General Roy's map of c.1750, the 1st edition OS map of 1866, and the 2nd edition OS map of c.1900. Roy's map indicates little in the way of a designed landscape at that time although there is a wooded shelter enclosure indicated at the site of the old castle of Kinfauns. The designed landscape laid out in the early 1800s originally extended down to the shore of the River Tay. However, the construction of the railway disturbed the strong links with the river and this severance has been reinforced by the A85(T) dual carriageway which now runs parallel with the railway. The estate was split up and sold in lots in the 1930s.
Kinfauns Castle was designed by Robert Smirke and built between 1822-26. It is a large, castellated two-storey mansion with a central flagtower. The east elevation, which extends some 233' has a porte-cochere. The interior was altered by F.W. Deas in 1912. The Home Farm was built c.1800. The Dairy is an octagonal stone building with verandah and bell roof and was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1928. Binnhill Tower (HB 11956) was built c.1813 in the Gothic style. It is of rubble construction, standing some 80' high, but has suffered from vandalism. Kinnoull Tower (HB 11963) is said to date from the 18th century. It is also rubble built, with a round tower. East and West Lodges have been demolished. North Lodge remains on the banks of the Deuchny Burn. Two striking Statues, one of 'Bruce' and the other of 'Wallace', stand overlooking the garden to the west of the house. The latter was made for Lord Gray in 1827 by James Thom of Ayrshire. Rockdale is a Cottage Ornee built in c.1830 incorporating an earlier house.
The parkland at Kinfauns was laid out on the south-facing slopes to the north and west of the Castle and on the lower lands to the east of the walled garden. W.S. Gilpin and others are said to have been consulted on the design. The 1st edition OS map shows the park to the north of the Castle to be particularly well wooded; many of these trees have gone. The parks are grazed. Rifle ranges are marked out in the east park and a new private house has been built in this park adjacent to the east side of the walled garden. A drive ran through the parks from the East Lodge to the Castle and continued to the North Lodge. At the east front of the Castle, this drive is joined by another which ran from the West Lodge along the edge of the woodland on Kinnoull Hill. The main access to the Castle is by a spur which enters the policies from the A85(T) between the Home Farm and Walnut Grove and runs along the edge of a field, which is indicated as an orchard in the 1st edition OS map, and joins the west drive just over 0.5 km to the southwest of the Castle.
The woodlands of the designed landscape at Kinfauns are situated on the Hills of Binn, Deuchny and Kinnoull. A small area of woodland is situated on sloping ground to the south of the Castle between the park and the west drive. An account of Kinfauns in 1841 describes 'considerable plantations'. Those on the lower slopes were hardwood whilst the upper slopes were Scots pine. The 1st edition OS map of 1866 shows many rides through the woodlands, some of which climbed to the Kinnoull and Binnhill Towers or other features such as the Dragon's Hole or Lady Grey's Well on Kinnoull Hill, or the curling pond on Deuchny Hill. Many of these tracks have since been planted over but the main areas are retained for forestry access or access to the Towers. In 1929, the woodlands are known to have extended to 712 acres, of which 262 acres were 'thriving young plantations of between one-ten years'. These young trees were mainly Scots pines although some hardwoods were planted. Binn Hill Wood today is predominantly beech with pockets of coniferous planting. Kinnoull Hill Wood is mixed deciduous. Since 1930, woodland has been established in the park between the west drive and the walled garden. A private house now stands on the southern edge of this wood. An area of coniferous woodland has been planted between the Home Farm and the walled garden.
The Castle stands on a terrace which is retained by a stone wall which extends along the south front and returns along the west and east front. The terrace is grassed on the upper level adjacent to the house. Beyond the terrace wall to the south and east are sloping lawns which form the setting for the entrance to the Castle. Specimens of birch and willow have been planted on the lawns since 1930. On the north-west side of the house is a formal lawn surrounded by yew hedges. It is overlooked from the north side by the Statues of Bruce and Wallace.
The kitchen garden is situated south of the Castle and east of the Home Farm. The exact date of its construction is uncertain; one account describes notes of its construction dating from the 1820s whilst another states that a plan exists for the layout of the glasshouses which dates from 1807. The 1841 account describes the walls as being covered in fruit trees and notes that there were 'a few herbaceous plants but not many American or other exotic trees or shrubs'. The 1st edition OS map indicates the layout of the garden on plan; the square enclosure was divided typically into four equal compartments by intersecting paths but the main feature, a fountain, was sited on the north side of the garden, adjacent to the glasshouses. The garden was maintained at least up until 1930. Private houses have since been developed within and adjacent to its boundaries. The ornate gates remain in the north wall. F.W. Deas designed an arbour for the garden.
The arboretum was established in the mid-19th century to the west of the Castle along the banks of the Deuchny Burn as far as the present Castle Farm. The area appears as open woodland on the 1st edition OS map with a path meandering through. Alan Mitchell recorded measurements of over 30 trees which remained in the arboretum in 1970. They included specimens of Taxodium distichum, Sequoia sempervirens and Cedrus atlantica. He noted that the American lime, Tilia Americana, is very rare in Britain and this specimen had the largest bole of any seen by him. There was also an unusually large single-boled Calocedrus decurrens. A few trees had been lost over the fifteen year period and many stumps remain throughout the area indicating that a considerable number have been lost over the last fifty years. Most of the understorey planting has been lost and the ground reverted to grass. Dense Rhododendron cover remains on the embankment adjacent to the east front of the house. A photograph, thought to have been taken c.1934, indicates a well planted Rock Garden on either side of the burn. Few traces remain of this garden today. The burn was canalised through the garden over small cascades before being culverted near the Castle itself. It was once crossed by a small rustic bridge.
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Mrs A Gloag
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
An important picturesque designed landscape, which plays an important role in the local scenery and provides some of the most significant views in the region.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
An early 19th century designed landscape, with embellishments mid 19th century and early 20th century and major alterations and interventions post 1930.
The earliest record of Kinfauns dates from 1382 when Robert II gave the eastern half of the lands to James Stewart, his natural son. The western half was given to James's younger brother, Walter. On James's death the lands reverted to the Crown. In the early 15th century, the estate was acquired by Thomas de Charteris and remained in this family until 1616. In 1647 it had passed to Thomas Blair of nearby Balthayock. In 1671, the Blair heiress, Anna, married Alexander Carnegie who assumed the name of Blair when they acquired Kinfauns shortly after their marriage. Their granddaughter, Margaret, married the 11th Baron Gray in 1741. They had four sons and six daughters, one of whom, Jean, married the 9th Earl of Moray, and this link resulted in the Moray family acquiring Kinfauns approximately 150 years later.
Three of the four sons of the 11th Lord Gray held the title following his death in 1782. His youngest son, Francis, succeeded as 14th Lord Gray in 1807 and it was he who commissioned Robert Smirke to build the Castle near the site of the previous house. He was a popular and respected local figure who did as much to improve the neighbourhood as he did to improve his own direct environment. Statistical accounts show that the population of the village of Kinfauns increased by some 27% between 1791-1821 when his improvements were advancing. W.S. Gilpin, nephew and pupil of William Gilpin, the English clergyman and author who was a pioneer of the picturesque, is reputed to have been consulted, amongst others, as to the improvements but there is no available documentary evidence to confirm this. There are some unsigned landscape drawings of Kinfauns in the 1820s which have not been seen during the course of this study.
In 1842 Lord Gray died. His successor, the 15th Baron, was responsible for much of the Victorian conifer planting, some of which remains to the west of the house. The title passed to his sister, Madelina, who too died without issue two years later. The title of Baroness Gray passed then to Margaret, the granddaughter of the 12th Baron. She married the son of the 3rd Earl of Mansfield. When she died in 1878, the title of Lord Gray passed to a cousin, already the 14th Earl of Moray. Kinfauns was inherited by Edmund Archibald Stuart, nephew of the 10th Earl of Moray, who took the name of Gray. Edmund himself became the 15th Earl of Moray on the death of his kinsman in 1895. His brother, 16th Earl, inherited in 1901. In 1909 Kinfauns passed to another brother, Morton Gray Stuart, who succeeded as the 17th Earl of Moray.
The 17th Earl commissioned considerable improvements to the Castle and buildings on the Kinfauns estate, in the course of which, the architects F.W. Deas and R.S. Lorimer were employed. The 17th Earl is known to have been a keen gardener and encouraged the upkeep of the gardens at Kinfauns. He died in 1930. Thereafter the estates became the property of 'Scottish Estates Ltd' who sold off the land in lots. The Castle and part of the policies were purchased by Co-operative Holidays Association (now known as Countrywide Holidays Association), an organisation which promotes walking holidays all over Britain. Since then other parts of the policies have been sold off; Kinnoull Hill is now a public park. The Home Farm and other east cottages are private residences and further housing has been developed in and around the walled garden.
- Associated People
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Castle (featured building)
- Description: Kinfauns Castle was designed by Robert Smirke and built between 1822-26. It is a large, castellated two-storey mansion with a central flagtower.
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- Tree Feature
- Description: Arboretum, with many specimen conifers.
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- Key Information
Open to the public