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Park House, Drumoak


This is a 19th-century designed landscape, created to accompany a house designed by Archibald Simpson. Whilst the landscape itself is modest, Park House forms one of a series of landscapes along the River Dee, and there are particularly important views into the landscape from the south.

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:

19th century designed landscape to accompany house by Archibald Simpson. Parkland alongside River Dee woodland walks to north of house.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Park House is situated on the north bank of the River Dee near the village of Drumoak off the A93.

The house is set in mixed but mostly Scot's Pine woodland with views to the south bank of the River Dee and beyond. The most important views are those into the estate from the South Deeside Road which gives the impression of a temple in a parkland setting.

There is no indication of any designed landscape on General Roy's Military Survey 1747-55, and it can be assumed that the existing landscape which is shown on the 1st Edition OS 1864, is the only designed landscape that has existed on this site as there are no earlier buildings.

Principal Building

The category A listed Park House is a two storey, eleven bay Neo-Greek house designed by Archibald Simpson and built in 1822. It is stuccoed and painted cream. The Old West Lodge, said to be by Archibald Simpson c.1822, is a single-storey and attic harled cottage, with a Doric porch. Opposite is a two-storey lodge with terracotta ridge tiles and finials c.1870.

The East Lodge is of the same vintage and style as the second of the west lodges. It also includes entrance gateways, hand gates and stone panelled gate piers. There is an impressive length of cast iron fencing along the approach wall with each dividing post surmounted by a thistle with leaves outstretched on either side of the flower. A little way in from the lodge is a granite bridge with cast iron centre panels with a plain criss cross pattern relieved by a narrow panel with a similar design. The home farm gateway off the main road is marked by stumpy cast-iron gate piers which includes the wreath found on the frieze at Park House. There are no gates, but a latch receiver indicated there must have been a gate.

The walled garden to the north-east of the house and was built c.1823. It is made of brick, in a semi-quatrefoil plan and is a variation on the serpentine, zig-zag or crinkle-crankle wall. The garden is open to the south with a hedge and ditch. Wrought iron gates with geometric pattern hung on cast-iron Roman Doric gate pillars. The two-storey three bay gardener's house is incorporated into the south-east part of the wall.

The Home Farmhouse is a two storey late 19th century building with three dormer windows breaking the eaves. A fishing hut on the river is a single storey, two bay stone building with sash windows and a pantiled roof. The recorded flood marks on the front door go back to 1730. To the rear is a free standing stone closet with pyramidal roof, presumably once pantiled like the hut but now covered with roofing felt and used as a log store.

The timber tennis pavilion is ex-catalogue, 2-bay with pillared verandah. Its once pitched roof is now flat and covered with roofing felt. There is a large dogs' graveyard near the house. A Pictish symbol stone, now badly worn and mounted on a piece of granite sits to the north-east of the house. The Parson's Well on the main drive to the north-east of the house is a chalybeate spring and is marked by a granite surround with a granite bench and surrounded by rockwork. Along the drive edge are stretches of dry stone dyking.

The Obelisk Mausoleum lies in woodland to the south-west of the house just off the drive. It consists of a subterranean octagon vault with a central octagonal pillar and arched recesses. There is a red granite obelisk on a 4-step platform above. An inscription reads 'James Kinloch Esq, Jermyn Street, St James, London formerly of Bombay in the East Indies who died on the 29th day of August 1838 in the 63rd year of his age'. The Icehouse on the track that leads down to the river is a simple rectangular and stuccoed building, with a vaulted interior. Park House sundial, dated 1845 consists of a metal dial on a circular granite shaft. It was made by William Duncan Optician 92 Union Street Aberdeen.

Entrances and Approaches

There are main east west drive approaches, and ancillary drives at the walled garden and Home farm. The main drive from the east is the longest approach and winds through areas of mixed woodland with some views to the south-east, and north-west towards the Home Farm. The east approach which is shown on the 1st Ed OS, 25' 1865 but without the lodge, which does not appear until the 1900 version of the OS, 25'.

Paths and Walks

Most of the parklands are covered in mixed woodland of Scot's pine and beech with an understorey of Rhododendron and Azaleas. There are also commercial conifer plantations, noticeable along the east drive. To the north of the house is a lime avenue running east/west, possibly along part of the line of the Old Deeside Road but appears to once have led to the Mausoleum. The area around the mausoleum is shown as mixed woodland but is now quite overgrown and the building is difficult to find. The 1st Ed OS, 25' 1865 shows that there was an area of terracing around it, maybe turf, but all this is now difficult to see.

The path that leads to the kitchen garden is planted with azaleas. This style of massed drift planting of Azaleas also appears at Straloch (q.v.), another designed landscape in Aberdeenshire, and may well be a signature feature of designer James Giles. The present owner recollects a large specimen corded beech tree, where several young beech whips were planted together and bound to grow together, to produce one gnarled trunk which appeared like a knotted spindly-fingered old hand. Sadly, the tree was felled in a storm, but the stump can be seen to the southeast of the house. An old corded beech specimen also exists close-by the main house at Straloch, which would also suggest the influence of the same designer on both sites.

There is a track down to the river and the fishing hut. The woodland around here is like the rest of the estate: mostly Scot's pine and beech, and also includes some Silver birch. There is also a Weeping ash (Fraxinus excelsior 'Pendula') on the path down to the river, and a small 'bog garden' of young weeping willows. There is a flood bund between the house and the River Dee beyond which is a riverside track, planted with limes.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

The parkland provides a setting to the south-east of the house of mixed coniferous and deciduous trees. Comparing the ground with the early OS maps shows that there has been a dramatic reduction in the tree cover in this area, particularly the area of grass immediately in front of the house which slopes down to a small burn.

Walled Garden

The walled garden, as already described, has a quatrefoil brick wall, probably a variation on the zig-zag or crinkle-crankle wall. This was probably to give extra protection to fruit trees, although Susan Campbell notes in her recent book 'Charleston Kedding, A History of Kitchen Gardening, '......... that the protectiveness of serpentine walls was, like so much else in kitchen gardening, debatable; the pretty curves acted as sun traps for the fruit, but their detractors claimed that they caused the wind to eddy, thus injuring the trees. The lower part of the garden is enclosed by a dyke with hedge and a ditch beyond.

The 1st Edition OS 25' shows that the upper half of the garden was divided into six squares two at the top and four below. This edition shows fairly evenly spaced trees indicating orchard planting in these squares. The lower part of the garden is more densely planted with mixed deciduous and coniferous trees, now including a large cedar and copper beech. There are still trained fruit trees on the walls but no vegetables grown in the walled garden now, so there are large shrub borders which have yet to reach maturity.

There is a central double herbaceous border backed by topiary yew hedges with clipped pom-poms and Irish Yew (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata') cones. There is a path all the way around the walled garden and along the bottom it has a wavy outline which seems to echo the quatrefoil wall to the north.

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

A 19th century designed landscape, created to accompany a house designed by Archibald Simpson. Whilst the landscape itself is modest, Park House forms one of a series of landscapes along the River Dee, and there are particularly important views into the landscape from the south.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Circa 1822.

Site History

Although Roy's survey indicates nothing in the way of a designed landscape it is known that the name Park is derived from the land having at one time formed part of the Park of Drum and was in the hands of the Irvine family for a period of nearly 300 years prior to 1737. According to the New Statistical Account, 1845:

'' the lands of Park formed part of a royal chase, and, having been reserved by Robert I when he gave the forest lands to William de Irwin, were granted, by Charter from King David Bruce to Walter Moigne. In 1348, John Moigne, Lord of the Park of Drum; and in, 1393, the said John Moigne granted a charter in favour of Alexander Irvine of a chalder of meal, paid of old to him by William de Burnard, for sustentation of the Park of Drum. These lands continued in the possession of the family of Drum till 1737, when the entail having been reduced, they were sold to Mr Duff of Culter. In 1807 they passed from the Duffs to Thomas Burnett, Advocate in Aberdeen, and Purse-Beareer to her Majesty's High Commissioner to the Church of Scotland; who sold them, in 1821, to William Moir, Esq; from who they were purchased, in 1839, by the present proprietor, Alexander John Kinloch.'

19th Century

In 'Annals of Lower Deeside' John Henderson, 1892 notes that William Moir 'erected on the property a substantial mansion house in the Grecian style of architecture, and had the garden and surrounding policies laid out with much taste and judgement. He further goes on to say that:

'In 1839 Alexander John Low, afterwards Kinloch, became proprietor under the following circumstances. In the beginning of the century, John Kinloch, a native of Kincardineshire, entered the house of Forbes and Company in India, in which he ultimately became a partner. He died a bachelor, leaving a considerable fortune to the family of a sister, Mrs Low, whose husband was a partner in the firm of Forbes, Low and Company, Manufacturers, Aberdeen. It was stipulated that seventy thousand pounds of the residue of his estate should be invested in the purchase of land in Scotland, and also that his heir should assume the name of Kinloch. The heir A J Low, later Kinloch, was a physician. He and his wife, a daughter of the late James Hutcheon, West India Merchant, had a large family'.

The estate was purchased from Mr Kinloch's trustees in July, 1888, for forty seven thousand pounds by Andrew Penny a silver and copper mine owner of Oruro, Bolivia. He was a native of the Parish of Birse and intended to make Park his permanent residence but on route for Scotland died in testate and without issue. He was succeeded by his brother and heir-at-law, James Penny.

20th Century

At some time around the 1920s or 1930s, Park House was bought by the famous Aberdeenshire personality Sir Robert Williams, who acted as advisor to, and sometime partner of Cecil Rhodes, in the early pioneering days of South Africa. He was a gifted and entrepreneurial Scottish mining engineer and railroad developer who discovered the vast copper deposits in Katanga Province (now incorporated in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).

The house was purchased by the present family in 1947.

Features & Designations


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


  • Country House (featured building)
  • Description: The category A listed Park House is a two storey, eleven bay Neo-Greek house designed by Archibald Simpson and built in 1822. It is stuccoed and painted cream.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information


Landscape Park



Principal Building




Electoral Ward

Banchory East and Crathes



  • Historic Scotland