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Lennoxlove (also known as Lethington)


The designed landscape at Lennoxlove still contains a few features from the 17th-century layout, such as the replanted avenue known as the Politicians Walk and diagonal access roads. There is interesting tree planting around the house and an early-20th-century ornamental sunken garden with broad herbaceous borders. Further flower gardens were added later in the 20th century.

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

Lennoxlove is situated 17 miles (27.5km) east of Edinburgh and 1 mile (1.5km) south of Haddington. The A6137 forms its west and north boundaries, the B6369 its east boundary, and a minor road links the two along the south boundary. It is set in the rolling agricultural lowlands of East Lothian and the house faces south over a gently sloping plain to the Lammermuir Hills beyond. The original tower house would have commanded views in all directions but these have been obscured by the development of the policy woodlands, leaving a vista open from the house to the south. The policy walls, woodlands and the south park are visible from the surrounding roads.

The 1st and only Duke of Lauderdale enclosed the policies with a wall in 1674 and by so doing created the first enclosed park in Scotland. The structure of the layout shown in John Slezer and John Wyck's plan of the late 17th century was later mapped by General Roy in 1750 and can still be traced in the present design, particularly the South Port, North Port and East Port avenues. In the late 18th century the landscape was extended and informalised, while retaining the diagonal access routes. The 1st edition OS map shows that by 1853 the early formal design and the formal gardens to the south of the house had been removed. The present extent of the designed landscape is 561 acres (227ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Lennoxlove House is a 14th century four-storey tower house with many additions over the centuries including the East Wing in 1620 and a small tower remodelled by William Burn in 1825. The house was restored in 1912 by Sir Robert Lorimer and is listed category A. Lorimer also designed the sunken garden to the east of the house for which Mr Baird collected the fine wrought- iron gates from Italy in 1933. In the centre of the garden is the unusual sundial, dated 1679, by James Gifford and brought here by Mr Baird from North Bart House in Renfrewshire, the octagonal dial with seventeen faces is mounted on the head of the statue of a lady in costume of the period and is listed.

The 18th century steading is listed C and there are also the outbuildings designed by Sydney Mitchell in the early 20th century with their unusual 'eyebrow' windows. Many estate cottages and a new Dower House have been added within the policies.


The parks were enclosed in 1674 by the then 12' high policy walls. The late 17th century Slezer-Wyck drawings show many large trees in the parks to the west of the house, particularly south of the main west drive. There were also individual park trees to the north-east of the house. The north drive is shown lined with coniferous trees. Roy's 1750 map again shows mature individual trees in the area south of the west drive. Most of the rest of the parkland trees shown on the 1st edition OS map were planted when the parkland was extended between 1776-1812 by the 10th & 11th Lord Blantyres and were of oak, lime and sycamore. Many of these have since been lost over the years and the parks have been taken into the Home Farm. Some are grazed by the herd of Cadzow Cattle, an old British White breed, moved to Lennoxlove from the Hamilton High Parks in 1979, some of which are to return to Hamilton in 1987.


The policy woodlands were also planted largely between 1776-1812 by the 10th & 11th Lord Blantyres and contain fine specimens of oak and beech. An oak woodland to the north of the house is used as a seed stand by the Forestry Commission. The boundary shelter strips date from the early 19th century and contain oak within hawthorn hedges. The woods suffered from the 1968 gales and, more recently, from Dutch Elm disease, and there has been a considerable amount of replanting in recent years, of both hard and softwoods. the Belvedere area is now planted with softwoods and with beech, and the woodlands around the mansion are managed as amenity woodlands, while the rest of the estate woodlands are managed under a Forestry Commission Dedication Scheme. The estate has its own modern sawmill and pressure-treatment plant at the Mains.

The Gardens

Early plans show a formal garden to the south of the house but this had been lost by 1853. The 1st edition map shows a bowling green to the east of the house and a circle of trees at the end of the west approach to the house. A sundial is shown outside the south front of the house. The sunken gardens were laid out by Sir Robert Lorimer in c.1912 on the site of the bowling green, and the herbaceous borders have since been redesigned by the Dowager Duchess of Hamilton. The 17th century sundial is a feature in the centre of the lawn which is edged with paved paths and broad herbaceous borders on its south side and by a rockery wall on its east side. To north and south are clipped yew hedges, shaped into castellations.

To the north of the sunken gardens is a small box-edged garden ornamented with a statue and the sundial which formerly stood at the south front. To the north-east, the Politicians Walk encloses the north side of the pleasure grounds. The avenue has been replanted at least twice during its long history; it is mostly composed of lime trees with the occasional oak and sycamore, and is underplanted with snowdrops, narcissi and forget-me-nots in season. South of the avenue are many ornamental trees and shrubs planted amid the lawns to the east of the house; these include a cut-leaf beech, a very old sweet chestnut, two Metasequoias, and with Laburnum, Azalea and other colourful flowering shrubs in the understorey. Alan Mitchell has measured 25 specimen trees at Lennoxlove.

To the west of the house, the circular forecourt has been planted with a roundel of wild cherry, and after the loss of an old tree in the centre, Her Majesty the Queen Mother planted an ash tree to replace it in 1967. The Dowager Duchess of Hamilton has also created a new flower garden within the policies to the south of the new Dower House and this is linked by a walkway through the Belvedere to the main house.

Walled Garden

The kitchen gardens lie to the south-west of the policies, some distance from the house. They were run as a market garden for many years and there are extensive glasshouses, some of which are currently being restored.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01620 823720

Access contact details

The site is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between Easter and October.


The Duke of Hamilton


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

Lennoxlove designed landscape forms an attractive setting for a category A listed house, as well as making a large contribution to the surrounding scenery. It is reputed to contain the first enclosed parkland in Scotland, and has a rich association with historical personalities.

Site History

The structure of the designed landscape was laid out as early as the mid-16th century for William Maitland, improved in the 17th century for the 1st Earl and the 1st Duke of Lauderdale, and informalised in the late 18th century. A new sunken garden was designed to the east of the house by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1912.

The lands of Lennoxlove, or Lethington as it was originally known, were held by the Giffords of Yester until 1345 when they passed to the Maitlands who built the tower house sometime before 1400. In 1561 William Maitland became Secretary of State for Mary, Queen of Scots, and it is known that the lime avenue leading to the south- east from the house is known as the Politicians Walk after him.

Improvements were made to the house in the 1620s by John Maitland, 1st Earl of Lauderdale, which included the addition of the East Wing. He died in 1645 and was succeeded by his son, later 1st and only Duke of Lauderdale, who continued the improvements while completing building work at several other properties, including Ham House with its elaborate gardens. Tradition holds that the 1st Duke enclosed the park in 1674 following a remark from the then Duke of York, later James II, that there were none to be found in Scotland, during his visit that year.

Two plans survive from the late 17th century, drawn by John Slezer and John Wyck, which show the layout of the park and the formal gardens. These appear to be survey plans rather than proposals from their titles and General Roy's map of 1750 shows the same layout, with the addition of the Belvedere to the north of the house. The Slezer/Wyck drawings show a triple avenue leading to the west which has since been lost but the avenues to the North, East and South Parks can still be traced. The design for the formal gardens may not have been implemented exactly as shown but Roy's map does show an area of formal gardens to the south of the house and also marks the Politicians Walk.

After the Duke's death in 1682, the estate changed hands several times before it was settled on Lord Blantyre in 1703 on the instructions of his cousin, the Duchess of Lennox, and tradition holds that she asked for it to be renamed Lennoxlove in memory of her husband. The Blantyres lived at Lennoxlove for nearly 200 years. The grounds were informalised in the late 18th century but the designer is not known. Thomas White submitted a plan in 1784 but this was not carried out. The new design was superimposed on the existing formal pattern, retaining the access routes. Some additions were made to the house in 1825 by William Burn for the 11th Earl of Blantyre and many improvements were made by his son, the 12th Earl. On his death in 1900, the estate passed to his great-nephew, William Arthur Baird of Erskine. He engaged Sir Robert Lorimer to work at Lennoxlove in 1906 and later sold Erskine.

In 1947 the estate was sold to the 14th Duke of Hamilton & Brandon, and many of the furnishings, especially pictures, from the former Hamilton Palace were brought to Lennoxlove.


  • 18th Century (1701 to 1800)
  • Late 18th Century (1775 to 1799)
Associated People
Features & Designations


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


  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Lennoxlove House is a 14th century four-storey tower house with many additions over the centuries including the East Wing in 1620 and a small tower remodelled by William Burn in 1825. The house was restored in 1912 by Sir Robert Lorimer and is listed category A.
  • Avenue
  • Description: The replanted avenue known as the Politicians Walk.
  • Sundial
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Gate
  • Description: Wrought-iron gates.
  • Hedge
  • Description: Castellated yew hedges around the sunken garden.
  • Herbaceous Border
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)





Open to the public


Electoral Ward

Haddington West/Saltoun




  • Historic Scotland