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The pleasure gardens and park at Newhailes are a rare survival in Scotland of an early- to mid-18th-century garden in the early English Landscape style. The basic layout of the parkland remains, including a ha-ha and a raised terrace walk. Remnants of various buildings, structures and monuments survive on woodland walks beside the burn. The semi-circular walls of the early-18th-century flower garden also survive.

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

A rare survival of an early/mid-18th century rocco landscape garden, developed in the formative period of the 'natural' style in Scotland.

Location and Setting

The Newhailes estate lies between the Edinburgh suburb of Joppa and to the west Musselburgh c1km from the Firth of Forth and within Edinburgh's designated Green Belt. The A1 lies to the south-west, with the A199 to the north and north-west. The Newhailes Road (A6095) forms the south-east boundary. The main East Coast railway skirts the south-west perimeter of the estate. The extent of the park and landscape gardens at Newhailes has survived to a relatively large extent, despite the modern housing developments which now surround it. Due to the topography much of the housing is set below the grounds of Newhailes; thus, views out of the estate retain an essentially rural aspect.

Newhailes House stands centrally within its designed landscape on a slightly elevated plateau above Musselburgh. Although enclosed on its south-west and south sides, it commands extensive views out to the north-east, over lawns and parkland, to the Firth of Forth.

North Berwick Law is a focal point in the views looking north-eastwards from the house. Another topographic feature intentionally exploited in the designed are views of Arthur's Seat from the landscape gardens to the north of the house, and from the terrace on its north. From the Terrace Walk in the park there are views northwards out to the Firth of Forth and southwards to the Moorfoot Hills.

Roy's Survey (1747-55) gives the first indication of the layout of a designed landscape at Newhailes. The design is still unrecognisable, with the house flanked by two axial woodland blocks and a roughly oval-shaped park to the north-east of the house, enclosed by perimeter woodland corresponding to the modern area of the Sheep Park. The Sheep Park is shown divided from the area now called the Cow Park by the Terrace Walk.

By 1798 Newhailes Park had been extended north to include the Bog Park and Magdalen Park (the latter enclosed from common land), and also to the south-west of the house, to include an area to the south of the Newhailes Road. This was associated with a diversion of the public road in order to construct new stables, offices and an entrance to the south of the house. The park had reached its greatest extent by 1840 (Buchanan, 1840). Subsequent railway construction in the 19th century, and late 20th century road and roundabout improvements just outside the main entrance to Newhailes, have resulted in the loss of these southern parks.

The late 19th century saw major changes when housing development was built on the North Park, and an area in the east of the Sheep Park was used as a sand quarry. In the late 20th century a light industrial estate was built on Bog Park. None of these developments detract from the long-distance landscape views seen from the house, nor have they affected the core of the early 18th century designed landscape.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Newhailes House was built in 1686. In 1714, it was extended to the south-east with the library; and later to the south-west, with the winter drawing-room. The Forecourt was constructed in 1721, when the entrance front was moved from the north to the south. It appears sunken because of the two earthen embankments which surround it to the south-east and the north-west. The latter embankment is cut through by a Service Entrance, a roofed passageway. The Stable Yard, designed by James Craig, was built in 1790 and incorporates an older farmhouse to the rear. A stone wall, built at various periods, encloses the policies.

The pleasure grounds extend along the Newhailes Burn to the north-west of the house and on the park-side are delimited by a ha-ha, with a heavily silted and scrubbed over ditch. The Shell Grotto (c1792) walls are sandstone with rubble and tufa facing. The interior was once lined with sea shells mounted on timber panels with a complicated system of hidden wall-flues and airholes pierced in the shells to allow hot air to penetrate the chamber. The Tea House, now ruinous, lies downstream from the Shell Grotto, close to the perimeter wall. There would have been views from here upstream. There is little documentary evidence for the date of its construction although the entrance has a Smith-style lugged architrave of late 17th century/early 18th century type (moved from its original position?). The Earl of Stair Monument, built in 1746, is an Obelisk 7.5m-9m high (25-30 ft). The early 18th century, brick-walled, semi-circular Flower Garden lies to the north-west of the house, the walls alone survive. A Fruit Store originally lay on an axis (now overgrown) with a long formal Canal (filled in 1960s). An extensive iron framework in front of the fruit store supports the branches of an old yew tree. In the bank behind lies the Icehouse.

Within the park a Terrace Walk, a raised walkway 5m (16.5 ft) wide on a battered-brick, terrace, retaining wall running 281m (922 ft) south-west to north-east divides the large central Sheep Park from the Cow Park (also known as Brick Kiln Park). It was entered through a Gateway, the remains of which consist of two Doric pillars, surviving to a height of 1.54m, attached to piers.

The Kitchen Garden, now a commercially run nursery, incorporates part of the stone-built policy wall which has been heightened twice using brick, probably in the mid 18th century and later. Nineteenth century glasshouses survive on the south wall. There is a further walled area to the north . The Doocot is rubble-built lectern type, no roofless. The Gardener's Cottage is early to mid 19th century and had diamond-paned windows and later extensions.

The Entrance Lodge and Gateway on the Newhailes Road comprise low, semi-circular walls with decorative wrought-ironwork and stone piers. The arches flanking the central wrought-iron gateway have hand-gates; the early to mid-19th century rustic lodge has lattice windows. The stone-built East Lodge is situated on the corner of the Newhailes Road and the A199.

Drives and Approaches

Initially, the main approach was from the north, corresponding with the entrance front of James Smith's house. Sir James Dalrymple moved the entrance front to the south, building the forecourt in 1721 which was accessed directly off the road leading from Wanton Walls to the Edinburgh-Musselburgh road. This was subsequently altered when the new stable block and offices were built across the northern part of the road, which was re-routed further to the south (1798, Bauchop annotation of 1824). Thereafter, the principal approach leading into the forecourt was shortened to its present length.


Newhailes House is the focus of the landscape composition, with the principal, long distance views being from the north, and it is only here that the house can be appreciated in its landscape setting. The parkland has retained its basic configuration, although the surviving planting is in poor condition. The Terrace Walk, crossing the park between Sheep Park and Cow Park, is important in maintaining the symmetry of the landscape design, which relies on a strict central axis running north-east to south-west and centred on the house.

The perimeter parkland belts within are all set within an inner brick wall (the lower courses only survive). Tree clumps existed in the parkland to the south of the house by 1840, but most of these have been lost (Buchanan, 1840).

The Gardens

A lawn on the north front of the house projects out into the parkland and is separated from it by a low, drystone ha-ha with flat capping stones. A line of trees extended out from the two woodland groves flanking the house, along the edge of this promontory lawn (Bauchop, 1798; Buchanan 1840). The outer, parkland, edge of the woodland groves were linked in turn with the promontory lawn by a terrace walk, lined with trees. Some mature sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) appear to be early 18th century in date and survive from these plantings. Two stone plinths, bases for the lead sphinxes, still stand in the parkland against the ha-ha to each side of the central axis.

Woodland groves flank each side of the house and are bounded by distinct earthwork embankments running parallel with and to the house on its north-west and south-east sides. The embankments, supporting terrace walks, delineate the lawn and terrace in front of the house from the woodland groves.

The landscape garden extends north-west of the house, along the banks of the Newhailes Burn which was set with a series of three formal ponds and a canal. The remains of small rustic bridges span the water above small weirs or cascades. Although now overgrown, the circuit walks led to a series of buildings, monuments and features, completed by the late 18th century, which included the rocco Shell Grotto, and the classical Tea House sited to be viewed along a canalised section of the Newhailes Burn (Bauchop, 1798). The remnants of some formal , early/mid-18th century planting, common lime (Tilia x europaea) and yew (Taxus baccata) survive along the banks of the burn and pools. The landscape garden was further extended by pleasure grounds laid out by Christian Dalrymple in the 1820s to 1836, which lay within the perimeter policy woodlands enclosing the Sheep Park and Cow Park. A series of serpentine paths lead led through these perimeter belts, with views cut through across the parkland, and with a series of ornamental features; a grotto to the north-east of the house; a bower and a spiral walk leading up a mount set within the belt dividing Bog Park from Sheep Park, none of which have survived (Buchanan 1840).

To the south-east of the house the woodland grove retains some of its formal, geometric planting including holm oaks (Quercus ilex), yew (Taxus baccata), sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) and an avenue of common lime (Tilia x europeaea}). The grove was set with a compartment, now known as the bowling green, on an axis with the library windows. This area survives as a damp clearing in the woodland, with some remnants of formal planting comprising holm oak (Quercus ilex).

It is notable that the estate is totally lacking in North American or Asiatic conifers and the Rhododendrons so commonly planted during the late 19th century.

The early 18th century, brick-walled, semi-circular Flower Garden with L-shaped extension lies to the north-west of the house. The garden once contained a conservatory, the foundations of which remain. What may be window recesses in the walls appear to have been infilled; their purpose is unknown, although a similar feature survives at Mavisbank.

Hay's design (1818) appears to have been implemented as indicated by a layout of flower-beds on later plans (Buchanan, 1840; 1883 Estate plan). Photographs and paintings dating from the early 20th century until quite recently, show the box-edged rose beds that may relate to the earlier layout.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The estate is open daily throughout the year. The house and visitor centre are open between April and September.


Newhailes can be reached by bus and cycle and is 20 minutes' walk from the nearest station at Newcraighall. For details see:


National Trust for Scotland


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

A rare survival of an early to mid-18th century rocco landscape garden, developed in the formative period of the 'natural' style in Scotland, laid out during 1720-40s for the Dalrymple family. It has associations with the architect James Smith (c1645-1731) and the horticulturalist and garden designer John Hay (1758-1836).

Main Phases of Landscape Development

18th and 19th centuries.

Site History

In 1686 the architect James Smith (c1645-1731) built a house for himself at Whitehill, later renamed Newhailes. Smith, appointed Surveyor of the King's Works in 1683, was a highly distinguished architect. Between the early 1680s and 1720 he was responsible for many major buildings, including Hamilton Palace (1693-1701) and Dalkeith Palace (1702-10).

Architectural evidence suggests that, during Smith's tenure, the main entrance front to Newhailes was on the north side. This was approached by an entrance drive off the Edinburgh-Musselburgh Road (A199) which led over Musselburgh Common to enter the Newhailes policies on an axis central to the north front. The drive led across the North Park and was bordered by two pairs of platoons planted to frame the views (Roy 1747-55) when seen from the house, and to frame the approach to the house.

In 1701 Smith sold the estate to Lord Bellenden, the second son of the 2nd Duke of Roxburghe, who renamed it Broughton. Smith retained some land at Wanton Walls, the southernmost end of the Newhailes estate, which seems to have been connected with his entrepreneurial activities in coal mining.

In 1709 Bellenden sold to Sir David Dalrymple (c1665-1721), who renamed the estate 'Newhailes' to distinguish it from his estate of Hailes Castle, East Lothian. Sir David Dalrymple, the fifth son of James, 1st Viscount Stair, was a distinguished statesman and lawyer. By 1709 he was M.P. for Haddington Burgh (1708-21) and Lord Advocate (1709-11 and 1714-20). He initiated an immediate scheme of improvement to the house and extended it to its present size. Although there is no record of the exact estate layout at this time there is evidence that gardens were laid out in 1718. He also appears in the list of subscribers to the 1st edition of John James's The Theory and Practice of Gardening (1712).

Sir James Dalrymple, 2nd Bt of Newhailes (1692-1751), graduated from Queen's College, Oxford. He travelled on a Grand Tour in 1712-13, visiting Venice and Padua in the company of Lord Herbert (c1689-1750), later 8th Earl of Pembroke, known as the Architect Earl and designer of the Palladian Bridge at Wilton, Wiltshire (Colvin, 1978, p.413-14). On succeeding his father, Dalrymple re-orientated the house so that the main entrance led in from the south, through a forecourt built in 1721. the forecourt and gate piers are similar to those at Chiswick House, London; the designs of which were published in 1733. Dalrymple increased the estate and parkland by a series of land exchanges, aimed to secure the seaward views along the Edinburgh-Musselburgh road, and restored areas of land from the effects of coal-mining and brick production.

He is accredited with laying out an ornamental landscape: 'In particular he planted both sides of a revulet running through the north part of the property, formed several ponds and waterfalls in the revulet, and a variety of grottoes and walks upon its banks; and the chief pleasure grounds of the place, now extend from the house and gardens along that revulet close to the Maitland Bridge upon the road from Edinburgh to Musselburgh.' (SRO, 1812). These rocco pleasure grounds stretched along the Newhailes Burn to the north of the house, were ornamented with a series of garden buildings and are notable as an early example of the 'natural' style. He sourced various architectural items from London, purchasing two lead statues of gladiators and two lead sphinxes from the studio of John Cheere in 1740; fireplaces for the house (from Sir Henry Cheere) and railings. The sphinxes sat on either side of the promontory lawn, laid out on the north front of the house (1893, OS 25") until 1847, when they were stolen.

Of the garden buildings ornamenting the grounds, the Obelisk, erected in 1746 to commemorate Sir James's cousin John, 2nd Earl of Stair (1673-1747), who fought as second in command to George II at Dettingen in 1743 (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.176; 2, p.35), is principally anti-Jacobite in sentiment. The two commemorative dates on the Obelisk, 1715 and 1746, celebrate the long history of the Dalrymple family's support for the Union and the services of Stair, who served with Marlborough.

Seeds for the gardens were purchased from William Miller, Edinburgh, who also supplied seeds for Sir John Clerk's gardens at Mavisbank (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.160), and with whom Dalrymple corresponded and exchanged exotics.

His son, Sir David Dalrymple (1726-92), 3rd Baronet, Lord Hailes, inherited the estate in 1751 and wrote The Annals of Scottish History , in Newhailes library ' described by Doctor Johnson as 'the most learned drawing room in Europe'. Although few records relate to landscape works at this period there is a series of contemporary accounts of the park and gardens. Joseph Spence on a Scottish Tour in 1758-60, wrote of the 'woods coming down from the right towards the shore, & I was v. glad to find on enquiry that they were Sir D. Das: fortis a very pleasing place; (and only wants a few openings to cath the sea oftener in ye walks & in the intermix light among the shades) & a few scattered clump & little touches in the more modern way'' (quoted in Tait, 1989). Estate records indicate that the grotto was built in the gardens (1774-81), ornamented with 'shells, Corals and other things of the Kind' sent back from Canton by William Dalrymple.

Christian Dalrymple (1765-1838) succeeded to her father's property in 1792 and during the forty-six years of her residence at Newhailes she effected extensive improvements albeit in the face of industrial development surrounding Newhailes and its polluting effects on the landscape. This included the Pinkie Salt Pans, a skinnery and a glue factory complete with dead horses at Brunstane Mill (which was overlooked by walks through the pleasure grounds on the north-western Newhailes boundary) and coal mining at Craighall. The latter threatened to injure 'the Springs of Water, Rivulets or Pools of water, Houses, Walls, Trees 'the whole Park around the House of New Hailes is a pleasure ground and immediately under the eye of the Proprietor'' (SRO GD 246/63/4/piece I).

Miss Dalrymple further extended and embellished the pleasure grounds; planned a new Flower Garden; improved and extended the park; constructed a new south approach to the mansion associated with the construction of a new office and stable court, and laid out new walks and a southern area of parkland. During the 1820s to 1836 she commissioned John Hay (1758-1836) to design the new Flower Garden (1818), a Hot Wall (1821) and an extension the pleasure grounds laid out within the perimeter park belt. These works were all in a style typical of the Regency period, with flower gardens set out around flowing, curvilinear paths and paisley-pattern shaped beds and specialist gardens including an American Garden and Rosery.

A canal indicated on the 1798, 1840 plans and the 2nd edition OS (25") is no longer extant, but Lady Antonia Dalrymple (interviewed 1993) remembers the remnants of a pond in this area which was subsequently filled in.

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Reference: 286
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Fruit store
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Terrace walk
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Walled flower garden
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Walled garden
  • Grade: B


English Landscape Garden


  • Dovecote
  • Garden Wall
  • Description: Policy walls
  • Shell Grotto
  • Icehouse
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: In 1714, the house was extended to the south-east with the library; and later to the south-west, with the winter drawing-room. The Forecourt was constructed in 1721, when the entrance front was moved from the north to the south.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Terraced Walk
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public


Electoral Ward

Musselburgh West




  • Historic Scotland