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Manderston 2209


The policies at Manderston combine an 18th- and 19th-century informal parkland layout with early-20th-century terraces and formal garden around the house. The main terrace is laid out as a parterre with topiary, statuary and formal pools. The formal garden is divided into compartments, one of which is a sunken garden with a fountain and pergola. There are also 19th- and 20th-century woodland gardens with collections of rhododendrons.

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:

Type of Site

An intact country estate, notable for its intricate formal garden elements, provision for leisure, architectural features, and the extensive collection of planting in the woodland gardens. Although occupying the site of an earlier residence, the present structure and form of the grounds are entirely attributable to late 18th century design projects (a house, informal parkland and lakes), plus the major phase of building, alteration and renovation commissioned c.1890-1910 by Sir James and Lady Miller.

Location and Setting

Located 1.5 miles, (2km) east of Duns, Manderston is one of a number of country estates established on the prime agricultural land of the Tweed valley lowlands and their margins. This is a well-settled landscape characterised by gently rolling landform and richly fertile arable fields. The designed landscape is centred on Manderston House, and comprises garden grounds, estate buildings, parks and some woodland. The house and terraced gardens occupy a shelf of flat, slightly elevated ground that affords long ranging views south towards the Cheviot hills and eastwards across to Chirnside. Immediately to the south of the house, the policies are dissected by the valley of a burn, dammed to form ornamental lakes. Encompassing 122ha (301ac), the boundaries of the designed landscape are defined by the outer edge of perimeter woodland strips and plantations, the boundary just east of the estate farm complex at Buxley, and the A6105 from Duns, which borders the outer parks to the south.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Manderston House is a large 2-storey classical-style mansion with basement and attic with balustraded parapet. Originally built c. 1790, the house underwent alterations in 1870 before a further phase of extensive remodelling in 1900-05 by John Kinross brought the house to its present form. With lavish interior furnishings and decoration remaining intact from this time, the house is an excellent representative of Edwardian style and can be seen as the pinnacle of Kinross' work on the estate. Earlier projects included the gardens immediately around the house. Laid out to the rear c.1890, the formal garden terraces are enclosed by ashlar terrace walls and feature ponds, statuary, large stone urns and a central ram's horn stair. To the east, the griffin gate leads to a pair of complementary sunken terraces, laid out c.1895 and featuring a Tudor style pavilion and garden house/dovecot. Further north, is the striking formal garden with golden gates, established by Kinross 1898-1901. The imposing main tripartite gateway, with partly gilded wrought iron gates, leads into a large rectangular garden divided into four themed quadrants adorned with statuary, greenhouses, a pergola and alcove. On a straight alignment to the north, a pedimented ashlar arched gateway leads into the walled kitchen gardens, which incorporate an 18th century brick-lined wall.

The large stables at Manderston are also by Kinross and remain in use today. Built as a test of skill for the architect, and at a cost of £21,000 (Palmer pers. comm. 2010), they were constructed from sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings to an elegant, classical design. Organised mainly around a quadrangular courtyard with pedimented arched entrance, they are especially noteworthy for surviving interior detail. Features associated with the lake, meanwhile, include the low timber Chinese bridge, (c.1800 and renewed late 19th century) and two further Kinross designs both built c.1895. These are the finely crafted Swiss chalet style boathouse with timber balcony, perched on the north shore of the lake, and the stone, classical, balustraded eastern dam, which gives access to the woodland gardens. Formerly known as the Pheasantry gardens, these are notable architecturally for a 19th-century stone circular garden seat constructed in a 17th century style, a single storey gamekeeper's cottage with dovecot, and the nearby kennels, c.1895 by Kinross. The evocative rectangular, single storey cricket pavilion with veranda and mock timber framing was originally built c.1903 and remains in use. Separating the policies from the road to the west is a low rubble stone boundary wall. The three main entrance ways are flanked by the ashlar north entrance gatepiers (Kinross, c.1895), the single-storey, sandstone, early-mid 19th-century west lodge, and the single-storey, sandstone, mid 19th-century south lodge.

The estate complex of Buxley Farm is located towards the north of the designed landscape. It comprises an extraordinary group of buildings and other architectural features developed from 1897 by Kinross. Although designed to be functional, the complex exhibits a distinctive picturesque style through its Scottish Baronial and Renaissance treatment (Cruft et al. 2006: 518). Key elements include the central Dairy Court (dated 1900) with the Dairy Tower at the SE corner. The tower's terrace is approached by the Unicorn Stair, modelled after the Lion and Unicorn stair at Glasgow University of 1690 (Cruft et al. 2006: 519). Accommodation at Buxley was provided in the form of a range of cottages and distinctive houses for the head gardener, engineer and dairyman. Of particular note are the Engineer's House, constructed 1897 in 17th-century style with ogee-roofed polygonal tower, and the Head Gardener's House, in Scottish Renaissance style, with ornately-carved dormer-heads. Close to the latter are a fountain (Kinross, 1897) and a sundial, (c.1900). Other key components of Buxley include the Fire station and engine house, (1897 in Scottish Baronial style), the quadrangular Farm Court, (c.1900, and the functional core of Buxley), the Estate Office (c.1900, located by the road to the north of the complex), and the Bullock Court and implement shed (c.1900). The nearby telephone kiosk is of standard K6 type (1935, by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott). Meanwhile, wrought-iron gates and two identical pairs of ashlar sandstone gatepiers, by Kinross c.1900, allow access between the estate buildings of Buxley and the formal garden of Manderston. Detailing on the gatepiers includes fleuron carved studs to a quatrefoil panelled frieze.

Drives and Approaches

There are three main approaches to Manderston House. The principal route in use today enters from the north via Kinross' c.1895 north entrance gatepiers and passes the stables on the right. A further approach leads from the west via the early-mid 19th century west lodge and descends gradually through parkland on a direct trajectory towards the mansion. Both these approaches are present on the first Ordnance Survey editions (1855-7 OS) and it is possible that they relate to, or were adapted from, tree-lined access routes depicted by Roy (1747-55) and Blackadder (1797). The third approach, meanwhile, leads from the south, via another single-storey entrance lodge, built in the mid 19th century. Lined by mature beech trees, and separated from the adjacent parks by a ha ha on both sides, this drive heads towards the east side of the lake and leads over Kinross' balustraded dam before curving around the sunken terraces to reach the front of the house.


The house and formal gardens of Manderston are set in the centre of parkland. The essential, late 18th-century park structure remains intact. Although there are now fewer original specimen trees and parkland clumps, some fine veteran lime, beech and oaks still stand in the grazed parks to the west and south-east of the house. Well-considered, recent planting in the western park will ensure the continuing presence of trees after the eventual demise of the older specimens.


Blocks of woodland plantation and some mixed deciduous perimeter strips partially enclose the parkland at Manderston. The broad swathe of woodland that follows the former burn valley to the east and west of the woodland garden features mainly beech and oak with some Douglas fir and larch planted towards the end of the 19th century, while the outer woodland blocks feature later conifer plantations.

Woodland Garden

Viewed from the house and terraces, the woodland garden can be seen extending beyond the lake. A thick carpet of rhododendrons ascends the opposite bank towards a dense cluster of trees. From within, the garden is revealed through a surprising network of paths that wind through a vast range of shrubs, ornamental trees, small summerhouses and statuary, all shaded by tall Scots pine, larch, oak and Japanese red cedar. Formerly known as the 'Pheasantry Wood', the garden in its present form was created by Major Hugh Bailie from 1955-9. This was an ambitious project that involved consultation with horticultural experts and the steady collection of hundreds of hybrid species, dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas along with unusual maples and conifers (Hellyer 1969: 1355). Near the entrance to the wood, he created 'The Bowl', a small dell composed of semi circular peat beds planted with 180 different dwarf rhododendron. His work is still clearly evident today in the constantly changing displays of the flowering shrubs and the muted shades of the ornamental trees.

Water Features

The larger of the two narrow artificial lakes with its long serpentine form and graceful timber Chinese-style bridge formed part of the picturesque landscape created at Manderston from the later 18th century onwards. Its picturesque value was subsequently retained and developed in the later landscape design of the late Victorian and Edwardian era. Working withn the overall programme of change at Manderston from the 1890s, the architect John Kinross oversaw the construction several projects by the lakes. These included the construction of an ornate/picturesque Swiss chalet style boathouse on the north bank, the renewal of the Chinese bridge and the development of an ornate balustraded stone dam that functions as a bridge leading towards the house from the south entrance and woodland gardens.

The Gardens

The scheme of immaculate formal terraced lawns and gardens immediately around Manderston house remain true to Kinross' original late 19th-century design. Recognised architecturally for their ornate enclosing stone walls, statuary, gates and steps, the terraces provide a distinguished setting for the mansion. The most intricate element is the formal parterre composed on a built-up terrace that extends along the whole width of the south elevation of the house. From this elevated stage, views extend southwards across a lower lawn, the serpentine lake, the woodland garden beyond, and by a judicious gap in planting, as far as the more distant Cheviot hills. In contrast to this outlook to the wider landscape, the parterre is an exercise in formality and precise symmetry. Partitioned into a range of shapes by gravel paths, its colour and texture derive from clipped topiary yews and hollies, flower beds, and light reflected from the water in two circular fish-ponds. Order and symmetry are also prominent characteristics in the lower lawn terraces to the east. Surrounded by trees, and connected by ornate steps, these more secluded rectangular spaces provided the setting for the pursuit and observation of late Victorian and Edwardian games such as croquet and tennis.

Walled Garden

From the house, a walk leads north through lawns planted with numerous diverse and majestic specimen trees to the extensive walled gardens. Prior to John Kinross' late 19th-century programme of works at Manderston, the kitchen garden followed a traditional arrangement. Kerr's survey of 1854 depicts and labels an orchard immediately to the south-east of the walled garden (NAS RHP85472), while the first Ordnance Survey edition shows the garden walls as enclosing a rectangular area divided into eight compartments. These compartments were arranged either side of a long, central path that culminated in a symmetrical range of glasshouses against the north wall (1855-7, OS 25'). Focusing on the former orchard area, Kinross transformed and enlarged this arrangement into the gardens that are largely evident today. On approach, the tall wrought iron gates clearly signal that something special lies beyond. Within, a long central path divides the garden into two main areas. On the right is a highly original and elaborate formal garden laid out on different levels and divided into a fountain garden, a sunken garden, the lily court and a pergola, restored in the early 21st century, which leads to a brick alcove. Paths, steps, statuary and low lines of box hedges direct movement through the garden spaces which, together, bear witness to the flamboyant taste of Sir James Miller. A couple of the glasshouses built in the east and north of this garden still remain in use, including a tufa-lined fernery. On the left of the main central path, ornamental trees including Japanese maple and white beam planted at the start of the 21st century replace an area of kitchen allotments.

To the north of these garden areas, the site of the original walled garden retained a simplified traditional layout until the early to mid-20th century. Before the 1980s, there was a symmetrical range of glasshouses and paths. This part of the walled garden is largely grassed apart from a tennis court and allotment area. Beyond the walled garden, to the east, is a surviving section of a once extensive rockery designed for Lady Miller in 1910.

  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Manderston House is a large 2-storey classical-style mansion with basement and attic with balustraded parapet. Originally built c. 1790, the house underwent alterations in 1870 before a further phase of extensive remodelling in 1900-05 by John Kinross brought the house to its present form.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: A rustic Chinese bridge spanning the lake.
  • Pergola
  • Description: Stone and wood pergola in a sunken compartment of the formal garden.
  • Pool
  • Description: Two formal raised pools with fountains on the main terrace.
  • Boat House
  • Description: Late-19th-century boathouse in the style of a Swiss chalet.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Gate
  • Description: The Golden Gates to the formal garden.
  • Dairy
  • Description: A marble dairy.
  • Lake
  • Description: A lake with a boathouse.
Gazebo, Dovecote
Visitor Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

Manderston house and grounds are open to the public in season. For details see:


Manderston is two miles east of Duns.
  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


The designed landscape was originally laid out before 1750. It was added to twice in the following century and also in 1900 by John Kinross, designer of the terraces and the formal garden.

Detailed History

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 outstanding example of late Victorian and Edwardian taste and design, Manderston presents an exceptional combination of informal and formal elements. The late 18th-century picturesque landscape itself became a backdrop for a highly structured design created by John Kinross on an unlimited budget in the final decade of the 19th century and opening years of the 20th century. The resulting formal gardens and architectural projects are still recognised today for their quality, extravagance and excellent preservation.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Pre 1750s; 1790-1820s, 1880s-1910

Site History

Although marked on Blaeu's atlas of 1654, it is Roy's Military Survey of 1747-55 that provides the earliest indication of the landscape's form and structure. An established residence of the powerful Home family, the map depicts a house and grounds accessed by straight, tree lined drives.

In 1769 Manderston was purchased by Archibald Swinton (who also bought the nearby Kimmerghame estate two years later) before changing hands again by the final decade of the 18th century. Dalhousie Weatherstone commissioned a new house c.1790, and it is likely that further development of the policies took place at roughly the same time in accord with contemporary tastes in landscape design. Blackadder's survey of 1797 shows informal parkland established on either side of the west drive, while by the opening decades of the next century, the burn had been dammed to create ornamental lakes to the south of the new house. Thicker belts of curving perimeter planting and areas of woodland created greater seclusion for the grounds.

The later transformation of this picturesque style can be attributed to the Miller family who first came to Manderston in the 1850s. It was Sir William Miller, entrepreneur, tradesman and elder brother of the original purchaser, Richard Miller, who created the capital necessary for a series of ambitious projects planned towards the end of the 19th century. By the time of his inheritance in 1880, he had amassed a fortune trading hemp and herring across the Baltic sea during the Crimean War. At Manderston this wealth was initially channelled into work on the house, a century old by this time. After William's death in 1887, his second son and heir, Sir James Miller initiated further, extensive remodelling work across the whole of the estate. (Sir William's eldest son had died in 1874).

Memorably described in 1890 as one of the country's wealthiest and the most eligible commoners, Sir James Miller commissioned the architect John Kinross to begin a programme of extravagant works at Manderston, perhaps spurred on by his marriage to the Hon. Eveline Curzon of Kedleston in 1893. At the outset, Kinross had been assured that money was no object. A new boathouse, stables and dam for the lake followed, along with elaborate formal gardens and terraced lawns for tennis and croquet around Manderston house. Buxley, in the north of the designed landscape, became the focus for major works to develop an impressive complex of farm buildings with ornamental dairy and accommodation. In 1900, Manderston House itself became the focus for major renovation. A photograph taken in 1905 shows part of the workforce employed ' more than 150 men grouped together on the ram's horn garden stair ' and proves a reminder of the sheer scale of work involved and the wider impact on the local economy (Manderston 1985: 3). Mindful of the potential benefits of the grounds for the wider community, Miller also established the Manderston Cricket Club for the use of estate staff and residents of the county of Berwickshire ( )

Sir James Miller survived the completion of works at Manderston by a matter of only three months. He and Lady Miller had no children of their own and the Edwardian estate, with its 'elaborate provision for convenience, comfort and recreation' (McWilliam 1977: 1) passed through the female line to a nephew, Major Hugh Bailie, following the death of Sir James' brother John in 1918.

Bailie's horticultural interest and passion for collecting rare rhododendrons and azaleas resulted in the creation of the woodland gardens to the south of the lake during the mid-20th century. His eldest son, Douglas, had been killed in 1944 at Anzio, so when Major Bailie died in 1978, Manderston again passed through the female line, and to a grandson, Adrian Palmer. Lord Palmer, whose father was the last chairman of Huntly and Palmer biscuits, continues to maintain the estate grounds along with his wife and two full-time gardeners.

The vast majority of the estate remains true to the designs laid out around 1900. Later 20th-century discussion over the future economic viability of the estate resulted in the regular opening of the house and grounds to the public from 1979 onwards. Subsequent projects have included the establishment of visitor facilities in the stable block and the renovation of the cricket pavilion following a successful Heritage Lottery Funding bid. The new, enlarged structure was opened by the English cricketer, Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge (1932-2000) and today, both the pavilion and the circular cricket ground remain in use for summer fixtures and events by Manderston cricket club. Young trees have been planted around the perimeter of this ground, while specimens planted to the north and north-west of the house will help ensure the long-term survival of the remaining parklands. Further maintenance undertaken in the early 21st century include the repair of the pergola in the formal garden and the re-roofing of Kinross' boathouse. The well preserved nature of the house and designed landscape made Manderston an obvious choice for the setting of the Channel 4 television series Manor House in 2003, which aimed to recreate everyday life within an Edwardian country estate.


  • Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
Associated People



  • Historic Scotland