Rozelle (also known as La Rochelle, Rosel)2874

Ayr, Scotland

Brief Description

Rozelle Park is a public park in the centre of Ayr with a range of trees and planting. The former 19th-century parkland is devoted to sporting activities but some specimen trees remain. A nature trail leads through shelterbelt woodlands and there are ornamental ponds with mid-20th-century shrubberies around them.

History

Rozelle House was built in 1754 for the Hamilton family, who owned the estate until the late-20th century. The designed landscape was laid out in the mid-19th century followed by more tree planting in the 1900s. In 1968 the family gifted the house and policies to the Royal Burgh of Ayr for recreational and cultural purposes. The house was converted to an art gallery shortly afterwards.

Visitor Facilities

This is a municipal park, open daily for general public use.

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

Location and Setting

Rozelle House is situated 2 miles (3km) south of Ayr's town centre, about 1 mile from the sea. It is bounded by the B7024 road into Ayr on its western boundary and by housing on the remaining boundaries. To the west of the B7024 is the Belleisle Park and golf course. The Slaphouse Burn, a tributary of the river Doon, follows the northern boundary. The topography is flat and views of Rozelle Park are limited by its complete encirclement by shelterbelts.

Records of the estate suggest that at one time it extended to 1,800 acres (730ha); however the area of the policies remains similar to that shown in the map of the lawn and pleasure grounds by James McDerment in 1834 and consists of a trapezoidal area enclosed by shelterbelts. The house is set in the middle of the park and the drive runs from west to east across the park. The main change to the designed landscape is the loss of the many clumps of parkland trees which once existed; now only individual trees remain. There are 79 acres (32ha) of designed landscape.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Rozelle House was built in 1754 in the style of John Adam with additions by David Bryce in 1830 and is listed A. It was built originally as a two- storey mansion with low two-storey pavilions; the east wing was later extended as a stable-block. The entrance lodge and gatepiers are listed B. There are several sculptures in the grounds by the house, an extension of the art museum.

Parkland

The park is currently used for sporting activities and as an amenity area; there are rugby and hockey pitches, and a pitch and putt course marked out. Some original parkland trees remain consisting of varieties of oak, beech, sycamore and lime, the remains of the clumps shown on the 1834 plan. There are also park trees planted in the 1900s of oak, Acer and elm and more recent plantings of limes, oak, cherries and hawthorn.

Woodland

The perimeter shelterbelts date from when the house was built, ie from c.1754. There are some original yew, beech, sycamore and horse chestnut trees. Additional plantings of around 1900 included holly and sycamore, and recently, beech, hawthorn and sycamore have been added. The woodland has an interesting variety of ground flora species which form the basis of a nature trail. A path runs through the woodlands on the perimeter.

Water Features

There are two ponds in the northern half of the park fed from the Slaphouse Burn to the north of the policies. The northern pond has an island and attracts many water fowl. The shrubbery was planted around the ponds including the Dell and extends south around the house and along the 'Ladies Walk', which runs across the park to the south-east corner of the policies towards the kitchen garden. The shrubbery area was planted up with Rhododendron species in the 1930s and other shrubbery plants were added over the years. The Dell area has recently undergone a major clearance, leaving just the specimen rhododendrons. The Ladies Walk is not shown on the McDerment plan of 1834 but appears on the 1st edition OS map of c.1860. Some specimen trees were planted in the area round the house and along the Ladies Walk and these include the 200 year old Cedar of Lebanon reputed to have been planted on the completion of the house. Other interesting trees include Camperdown elms, Algerian oak, Deodar cedars, Redwood, Holm oak and cut-leaf beech.

Walled Garden

The former kitchen garden lies to the south-east of the policies and adjacent to them. It is now in private ownership as a nursery garden and the rear part is derelict, but it is shown on the 1st edition OS map as having had four compartments with some buildings in its north-east compartment (planning permission has since been granted for this area to be developed as a private housing estate).

Features
  • Art Gallery (featured building)
  • Description: Rozelle House was built in the style of John Adam with additions by David Bryce in 1830. It was built originally as a two- storey mansion with low two-storey pavilions; the east wing was later extended as a stable-block.
  • Earliest Date:
Pond, Sculpture, Specimen Tree, Tree Belt, Shrubbery
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

This is a municipal park, open daily for general public use.

Directions

Buses stop at the park gates. For details see: http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/galleries/rozellehouse/location.aspx
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

An attractive public park near Ayr town centre, and notable for its interesting trees and planting, and as the setting for the category A listed Rozelle House.

Site History

The Adam style Rozelle House was built for Robert Hamilton in 1754. It was named after La Rochelle, the family estate in Jamaica, and is reputed to have been 'built on rum'. A plan for the pleasure gardens was drawn up in 1834 for Archibald Hamilton by James McDerment who recorded the lands as 'belonging to the Earl of Eglinton and presently possessed by Archibald Hamilton Esquire'. At about the same time improvements were being made to the house and plans were drawn up from 1829-30 by David Bryce for additions to the main block of the mansion. In 1885 the OS Gazetteer refers to the 'fine mansion in beautifully wooded grounds', owned until 1881 by the late Alexander Hamilton Esq. In 1932 plans were drawn up for alterations to the lodges by Allan, Stevenson and Cassels for Colonel C.L.C. Hamilton.

In 1968 his son Lt Commander John Hamilton made arrangements for gifting Rozelle House to Ayr Town Council on condition that the land be used for playing fields and as an amenity area. The park at that time was in arable use. In the 1970s Mrs Mary Maclaurin gifted some money to enable the stables and office wing to be restored and converted into an art gallery and the Maclaurin Art Gallery was opened in June 1976. Historically the cottage where Robert Burns was born was in feu to the Rozelle Estate and is today a nearby tourist attraction.

Period

  • Victorian (1837-1901)
Associated People
Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland