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The well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century parkland at Prestonhall includes a number of avenues and a vista leading to a temple. There is a large late-18th-century walled garden with twin gazebos in the north wall, formal lawns and a late-19th-century wild garden. This consists of tree and shrub planting on banks sloping down to the River Tyne. The house offers bed and breakfast accommodation at the time of writing in 2007.

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

Prestonhall is situated on the east bank of the River Tyne some 5 miles (8km) south- east of the town of Dalkeith. The River Tyne forms the western boundary of the site. The village of Pathhead lies to the south. The surrounding landscape is largely agricultural, extending across the flat Lothian plain and rising to the south towards the Moorfoot and Lammermuir Hills. The estate of Oxenfoord Castle stands on the opposite bank of the River Tyne, the Castle and park of which are highly significant from the western parkland of Prestonhall. The fields of the 18th century agricultural improvements of the estate are moderately significant from the B6367 which forms the eastern boundary of the designed landscape.

Prestonhall stands almost equidistant between the River Tyne and the B6367 amid parkland. The designed landscape extends to the B6367 in the north and east. The fields of agricultural improvements beyond the B6367 would have been part of the original design but are not now part of the policies. The southern boundary is delineated by a minor road which runs between the B6367 and the Lion's Gate Lodge. Historically, the designed landscape expanded between 1750- 1850 to the north and included the lands of Brierybank. Since then, the designed landscape has contracted and is now largely confined to the core extending north and south between the River Tyne and the stable-block, although the outlying fields are crucial to its approaches and setting. Views across the river to Oxenfoord Castle and its surrounding parks are important. Views to the wider landscape are only available from high points to the north of the house. Prestonhall stands within some 408 acres (165ha) of designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Prestonhall, listed A, was built in 1791 on the site of a previous house to designs by Robert Mitchell, who is also thought to have designed the Stables, Kitchen Garden, Temple and Lions' Gate. The Stables, listed A, stand to the north-east of the house, and are quadrangular with a central courtyard. The Gazebos, listed A, stand on the north wall of the kitchen garden. The Temple, listed A, is significant at the end of the long vista from the house. It was to be Alexander Callander's mausoleum but was never used as such. It was erected in his memory by his brother, Sir John, and is at present being restored. The Lions' Gate, listed A, forms the southern entrance. It has twin lodges with gate piers attached, on which lions are mounted. The North Gate, listed A, is cast iron and is flanked by two pilastered stone gate piers. It is 18th century but the exact date and designer are unknown. The Ice House, listed C, is an 18th century dome-brick chamber which lies in the park to the west of the house. The Laundry stands in the woodland garden to the east of the house; it was last used during the war and geese are now kept in it. A Sundial lies in the centre of the walled garden and various pieces of garden ornamentation remain within the walled and formal gardens including the Italian urns, and the eagles along the walls of the walled garden.


The park lies between the stables and the River Tyne, extending north beyond the Temple and south to the edge of the woodland garden. The landform is undulating, derived from a series of gravel workings. An extensive area of agricultural improvement extends from this core out to the boundary of the designed landscape. The park provides a magnificent setting for the approach to the house from the north, south and east. William Burn-Callander received a Gold Medal from the Royal Highland Agricultural Society for the planting of 100 different species of trees on the North Avenue between 1828-54. Only one of his original trees remains; others have been replanted with mixed deciduous species. A lime avenue which extends from the walled garden to the north drive was probably also established by William Burn- Callander although some of the trees date from the later 19th century. Another avenue of trees extends north from the house to the Temple. A number of the trees in the policies were recorded in 1986 by J.R. Patterson of Nairn.

The line of a former drive through the north park, removed in the improvements of the 1790s, is marked by ditches. There are two ha-has, both south of the house: one separating the lawn from the park, the other separating the park from the fields beyond.

Many fine specimen trees remain in the park; species include chestnut, sycamore, lime and a cedar which is reputed to be the second largest in Scotland. Replanting of similar hardwood species was carried out by Major W.H. Callander and is continued by the present owner and his eldest son, Major J.H. Callander. The present owner has naturalised thousands of daffodils throughout the parkland as well as numerous snowdrops, aconites, Scillas and Crocuses. A record is being made of the many varieties of daffodil to be found throughout the estate.


The present woodland pattern dates from the early 19th century and is largely the same as that shown on the 1st edition OS. The earlier layout shown on Roy's plan of 1750 can be detected in the shelter enclosures to the east of the house. Rides remain in the woodland adjacent to the eastern boundary of the A6367. The woodland to the north of the Temple is mixed deciduous and coniferous. Comparison of the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps shows that it was extended in the late 19th century; part of it was felled c.1960 and replanted.

A major clump of coniferous woodland c.25 years old stands on either side of the north drive on the former site of 'Brierybank'. An area on the east boundary of the park, north of the stables, was used for raspberry growing and has recently been planted with mixed tree species.

Water Features

A loch was formed by the River Tyne as part of the 18th century improvements and its situation to the south-west of the house is shown on the 1st edition OS map. It dried up after the dam was washed away in 1948, and later in 1970, and is presently colonised by willow, alder and other water-loving species. Proposals are in hand to restore the ponds and to use hydraulic rams to provide the source of water instead of the dams that were a frequent problem because of silting.

A water garden was created in the early 1800s alongside a burn with cascades which flowed through the wood to the east of the Temple. A pathway ran north to join the riverside walk. No trace of this garden exists but the pathway remains in what is now a fairly deep gulley.

The Gardens

The Wild Garden lies to the west of the kitchen garden. It was laid out on the terraces which slope down to the River Tyne by Cecilia Burn-Callander in the late 19th century. Mixed conifers, Rhododendron and Azaleas were planted, enclosed by a holly hedge. Lists of Sikkim Rhododendrons planted then are kept by the family, as are illustrations and photographs of the garden in its early years. It is overgrown but is currently being cleared and restored.

The Laundry Wood, to the east of the house, is seen in General Roy's map of 1750 as having been laid out with diagonal drives running through it. The present form is similar to that shown on the 1st edition map of 1863. It is largely overgrown with yew and Rhododendron beneath a mixed tree canopy, and in spring it is carpeted with aconites, snowdrops and daffodils. Recently, areas have been cleared around a small pond and Rhododendrons have been planted. A larger pond is situated south of this garden. There are old photographs of a temple in the area beyond the pond.

A riverside walk is marked on the 1st edition OS map but not on the 2nd edition. Since 1952 it has become totally overgrown but the line remains significant from the park by its conifers on the skyline. Plans are in hand to open this walkway once again.

To the south of the house is an extensive lawn flanked by shrub borders. William Burn Callander introduced numerous new and, at the time, rare plants on the south side of the house.

The Rose Garden lies to the south of the walled garden. The site is shown on the 1st edition map but was probably then laid out as a flower garden. Cecilia Callander laid it out with an herbaceous border along the south wall. A detailed description of the garden at its height is given in 'Flower grouping in English, Scottish and Irish Gardens' by Margaret Waterfield. The garden has not been fully maintained since 1977.

Walled Garden

The kitchen garden was built shortly after Prestonhall in 1792. The layout is clearly shown on the 1st edition OS map. The Gardeners' Magazine of 1842 describes it as 'an excellent and superiorly designed kitchen garden'. It is overlooked by twin gazebos incorporated in the north wall. Beyond them is a walled enclosure, the glasshouses within which are now redundant. Some glasshouses were lost in the gales of 1967 & 1981. The central glasshouse facing south within the garden remains. According to the account of 1842, forty different kinds of figs were cultivated here. The garden was run as a commercial enterprise mainly growing chrysanthemums together with many varieties of pot plants in the heated greenhouses until 1972. At present it is used for organically grown vegetables.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


Henry and Jackie Callander


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

First laid out in the early 18th century formal style, and later informalised, the parkland, woodland, gardens and architectural features of the designed landscape make an impressive contribution to the scenery of the area.

Site History

The designed landscape was originally laid out in the first half of the 18th century. It was informalised and extended at the turn of the 18th century and has been maintained largely in accordance with this layout since then. Documentary evidence is provided in the form of General Roy's map of 1750, survey plans by John Lauder of 1806 and Thomas Carfrae of 1842, the 1st edition OS map of 1863 and the 2nd edition of c.1900. An improvement plan was prepared by Thomas White in 1794. An alternative plan, drawn in black and white probably also by White, was prepared but not carried out.

Prestonhall is thought to have been built about 1700 for Roderick McKenzie, a brother of the 1st Earl of Cromartie, and who was made a Law Lord with the title of Lord Prestonhall in 1703. It was purchased by the 2nd Duchess of Gordon in 1738 who commissioned William Adam to alter the house c.1740. The daughter of the Earl of Peterborough, she introduced many agricultural improvements to Scotland and, at Prestonhall, probably laid out the grounds to the form shown on General Roy's map of 1750. Her son, Lord Adam Gordon, inherited the estate on her death in 1760. He was a distinguished soldier and politician, representing Aberdeen and later Kincardineshire between 1754-82. He became a General in the Army and, in 1782, the Commander in Chief of the Forces in Scotland, residing at Holyrood House. Lord Adam Gordon is reported to have carried out large-scale landscape gardening operations in the grounds, as well as alterations and improvements to the house. 'When he had completed the improvement of the place according to his own ideas and there really remained little or nothing more to be done, he sold it and afterward bought The Burn' (q.v.) ...'for the embellishment of which place he set himself to work with renewed alacrity.' (Sir Thomas Dick Lauder) However, by the time of the sale of Prestonhall to Alexander Callander in 1789, the house had been on the market for some time and was 'much out of repair'.

Alexander Callander, who had made a fortune in India and was MP for Aberdeen, was the 2nd son of Callander of Westerton. He had previously purchased the nearby estates of Elphinstone and Crichton before returning to Scotland to become laird of Prestonhall. Architect Robert Mitchell was commissioned to reconstruct the house which was unfinished at the time of Alexander Callander's death in 1792. He was succeeded by his brother, John, who became an MP and was made a Baronet in 1798. He completed the house and grounds, commissioning Thomas White to prepare improvement plans. Sir John died in 1812 and his nephew, John Alexander Higgins, inherited the property. He, in turn, left the estate to his nephew, William Burn, in 1828 who added Callander to his name.

The house was altered in the 1820s, including the addition of the porch and reversing the layout to make the main entrance at the north of the house. William Burn- Callander continued to develop the policies before his death in 1854. Henry Callander and his wife, Cecilia, laid out the formal and wild gardens. Cecilia continued to live at Prestonhall after the death of her husband in 1928 until her death in 1940, continuing to take a keen interest in the gardens and their development. She was a very knowledgeable gardener and it is known that she was asked to assist in the identification of plants and to give advice by Kew Gardens. Major W.H.B. Callander MBE and his wife Christian, parents of the present owner, continued to maintain the gardens in good condition even during the war years when two land girls were employed growing fruit and vegetables to help the war effort. The walled garden and greenhouse were run commercially by the present owner from 1958 until 1972. Since 1977 the gardens have been kept on a care and maintenance basis.

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Lion's Gate
  • Grade: A
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: North Gate
  • Grade: A
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Stables
  • Grade: A


  • Temple
  • Avenue
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: The Preston Beech, one of Scotland's heritage trees.
  • Icehouse
  • Sundial
  • Gazebo
  • Description: Two brick gazebos.
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Prestonhall, listed A, was built in 1791 on the site of a previous house to designs by Robert Mitchell, who is also thought to have designed the Stables, Kitchen Garden, Temple and Lions' Gate.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Entrance
  • Description: The north gate.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Entrance
  • Description: The south entrance, known as the lion gate.
  • Stable Block
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Electoral Ward





  • Historic Scotland