Rossdhu 8898

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Brief Description

Rossdhu comprises an outstanding parkland landscape on a promontory of Loch Lomond, partly based on an improvement plan by Thomas White Senior, 1797. The parkland design is still intact and The Loch Lomond Golf Club development is a fine example of adaptive re-use of a designed landscape.

History

By 1718 the estate was reputedly vast and Sir James Colquhoun, the 25th Laird of Luss who succeeded his mother in 1732, married Helen, sister of the 17th Earl of Sunderland. In 1772 a start was made by his son James on the building of a new house at Rossdhu, on a site further to the east and overlooking the loch. The 26th Laird succeeded in 1786, and it was he who commissioned Thomas White Senior in 1797 to draw up an improvement plan for the park. Some work was in hand on park lodges and a bridge in 1798, and much tree planting was carried out at the turn of the century.

Detailed Description

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:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/designations

Type of Site

Extensive parkland landscape set on a promontory on Loch Lomond.

Location and Setting

Rossdhu is situated on the west shore of Loch Lomond, some 3km (2 miles) south of Luss and 7km (4.5 miles) north of Balloch. The policies are bounded by the policy wall along the A82(T) to the west side, and by the loch on the north, east and south sides. The site is sheltered by the Luss hills to the west which rise to 700m (2297 ft) at Beinn Chaorach. The Finlas Water rises in these hills and flows through the policies into Loch Lomond. The rainfall is high but otherwise the climate is moderate. The setting enables views along Loch Lomond in both directions and across the loch to Ben Lomond. The surrounding landscape of loch and islands, with its backdrop of hills, is important to the designed landscape. Views into the park from the landward side are limited by the high policy walls but Rossdhu is an attractive landscape feature from the loch.

Rossdhu House is set to the north of the parkland on a small promontory which is surrounded on three sides by the waters of Loch Lomond. A previous stronghold was set further to the west on the same promontory but the new site of the present house enables fine views of Loch Lomond and the islands. The designed landscape is bordered by the policy walls and the loch, and has been thus enclosed since the early 19th century. General Roy's map of 1750 shows only a small wooded enclosure around the old castle, with two fields enclosed adjacent to the road, and woodland lining the shore. The policies were enclosed by the 27th Laird, Sir James, who succeeded in 1805. He drained the parks, laid out the drives and made additions to the house. The resulting layout is shown on the 1st edition OS map of c.1855, and has remained similar to the present day. There designed landscape extends to 235 hectares (581 acres).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Rossdhu House is a three-storey classical mansion, erected in 1772. The architect is recorded as Thomas Brown although Sir John Clerk was consulted and was probably the designer. The portico and wings were added in the early 19th century, and the house is listed Category B. The former castle, now ruined, is also listed B. St Mary's Chapel, now roofless, has a doocot at one end and is listed B. It now encloses the family burial ground. The old laundry is listed B, as is the Byre and Coach-house. The Dairy dwelling and Ice House are listed C(S). The impressive South Lodge, with twin one-storey pavilions joined by an archway bearing the Colquhoun Arms, is listed A. The early 19th century twin North Lodges and the Ross Lodge are listed B. The sundial in the walled garden is also listed B. There is a fine old, curved glasshouse remaining in the walled garden, and the dairy buildings to its south. In April 1994, the Loch Lomond Golf Club, a private international members club, was opened and Rossdhu House became the clubhouse. The old laundry, coach-house and dairy buildings were converted to house guests, and several new buildings were erected in a style in-keeping with the older buildings.

Parkland

There are two main areas of parkland at Rossdhu; the first to be laid out was the Deer Park to the south of the house. Part of this area is shown on Roy's map as woodland, and part of it was kept as marsh land for defensive purposes until the 19th century when it was drained. There is a great variety of fine old parkland trees which have been measured over the years, and some were measured by Alan Mitchell in 1985. Species include oak, lime, chestnut, and sycamore, some of which predate the designed layout. In the northern half of the park and particularly near the drive to the house and near the walled garden are some younger specimen conifers and more ornamental trees; maples, poplars, Silver firs, copper beech, evergreen oak and specimen pine varieties. There is a lime avenue to the farm entrance. The Loch Lomond Golf Course was built in the Deer Park in 1994 with minimal damage to any of the specimen trees. Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the golf course has won international acclaim and hosts the annual Scottish Open Golf Championship. There are two SSSIs in the parkland which feature an unusual stretch of alder and willow woodland and over 30 species of rare epiphytic lichens.

There are fewer parkland trees in Ross Park, to the south of the Deer Park. The Finlas Burn has been canalised around the north side of Ross Park, diverting the water course east to the loch from its earlier course in 1855 northwards to Rossdhu Bay. It is crossed by the south drive. Sheep and cattle graze the parks.

Woodland

The majority of policy woodlands were planted as part of the designed layout in the early 19th century, except for the east side of the policies which were shown as wooded on General Roy's map of 1750. The woodlands are mainly of oak, alder and beech of mixed age, with good mixed groundcover and a spectacular display of bluebells in season. There are some areas of more recent conifer plantation within the policies, of mainly spruce species.

The Gardens

There is an area of walled formal garden immediately to the south of the house which appears to be the only formal area of garden that there has been at Rossdhu. It was put in after the 2nd edition OS map of c.1900. The first walled enclosed garden appears to have been a rose garden, and is now used as an outdoor eating area by the Loch Lomond Golf Club. There is a small additional area of formal gardens leading on south from this and linked by yew hedges. To the west of the mansion house lie the remains of the former castle, the Chapel, the Ice House, the old laundry/gazebo and the boathouse. These buildings are linked by paths, amid informal planting of Rhododendrons, Azaleas and ornamental trees, including a fine specimen Tulip tree near the house, and some very old yews near the old castle.

Walled Garden

There is a large walled garden, formerly used as a kitchen garden, to the south of the Deer Park, as suggested by Thomas White. Early 20th century photographs of it show an impressive range of glasshouses against the north wall, with at least three conservatory pavilions adjacent to it. Only the remains of the glasshouses exist today, with a few old fruit trees against the walls. The garden was divided into four compartments, with a central sundial, and fruit was grown in the southern sector. In September 2005 there are plans to develop a health spa in the walled garden which will include the restoration of the greenhouses and conservatories, and extensive formal garden construction.

To the south of the main garden is a roughly triangular area surrounded by a ha-ha which was originally planted as an orchard. It has since been planted as a shrubbery with Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Yew, Portuguese laurel, and specimen trees, including a fine cut-leaf beech, line the drive to this area.

Features
  • Mansion House (featured building)
  • Description: Rossdhu House is a three-storey classical mansion, erected in 1772. The architect is recorded as Thomas Brown although Sir John Clerk was consulted and was probably the designer.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
History

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:

http://portal.historic-scotland.gov.uk/designations

Reason for Inclusion

Rossdhu comprises an outstanding parkland landscape on a promontory of Loch Lomond, partly based on an improvement plan by Thomas White Senior, 1797. The parkland design is still intact and The Loch Lomond Golf Club development is a fine example of adaptive re-use of a designed landscape.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

The layout of the present landscape dates from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Site History

There is a 1778 survey plan and a Thomas White plan of 1797, but there are no other historical plans of the landscape or gardens. Sir John Clerk is known to have been consulted over the early 19th century improvements.

In ancient times the estate belonged to the Earls of Lennox and passed by marriage in the early 14th century to Sir Robert de Colquhoune. The old Castle of Rossdhu is thought to have been built at about the same time as St Mary's Chapel by the 11th Laird of Luss, Sir John Colquhoun. The original castle was very much a fortress and stronghold against the clan feuds which raged over the next century or so. Later the Castle was occupied twice by the Cromwellian forces, and it was not until the early 18th century that life in these parts became sufficiently settled to warrant creating a less fortified home. By 1718 the estate was reputedly vast and Sir James Colquhoun, the 25th Laird of Luss who succeeded his mother in 1732, married Helen, sister of the 17th Earl of Sunderland. He founded Helensburgh on the Clyde coast and named it after his wife, and in 1786 he was created a Baronet of Great Britain. In 1772 a start was made by his son James on the building of a new house at Rossdhu, on a site further to the east and overlooking the loch. In 1773 Boswell and Johnson stayed at Rossdhu while on their tour of Scotland.

The Account Book kept at Rossdhu over this period refers to the architect as a Mr Thomas Brown, and it is known that Sir John Clerk of Penicuik was also consulted. The accounts refer to the importation of bricks and limestone from Dumbarton, and of earth brought to the south-east of the house. In 1778 a Mr Charles Ross was paid for carrying out a survey of the estate and the plan is now lodged with Glasgow University Library. The 26th Laird succeeded in 1786, and it was he who commissioned Thomas White Senior in 1797 to draw up an improvement plan for the park. Some work was in hand on park lodges and a bridge in 1798, and much tree planting was carried out at the turn of the century. Without reference to the 1778 survey, it would appear that at least some of Thomas White's suggestions were carried out, namely the siting of the kitchen garden to the south of the Deer Park and the line of the driveways through the parks which compared with the 1st edition OS map of 1885. His proposed clumps and roundels were not followed. Instead, the north- west quarter of the park was planted as amenity woodlands and the Deer Park in the north-east quarter of the park was drained and planted with many individual parkland trees. The woodlands extended in a fringe along the shore south of the walled garden, and Ross Park to the south was also planted with individual parkland trees.

Much of this work is attributed to the 27th Laird, another Sir James, who succeeded in 1805 and made additions to the house in the form of the two wings and the classical portico. He is accredited with putting in the long south drive and impressive south lodge archway. The 1st edition OS map shows the designed landscape laid out as it remains today, with minor changes such as the layout of the walled area south of the walled garden, then planted as an orchard. A Japanese-style bridge remains south of Rossdhu Bay, where there was once possibly a water garden, and at one time a heather garden put in by Sir Iain, the 31st Laird, who was founder chairman of the National Trust for Scotland.

Period

  • Late 18th Century
  • 18th Century
Associated People

People associated to Rossdhu

Contact

Telephone

0131 668 8600

Official Website

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References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland