Scone Palace 2923

Perth, Scotland

Brief Description

The extensive late-18th and early-19th century parkland at Scone Palace is well-preserved. Remnants of early-19th-century woodland survive along the burns in the policies. Formal terraced gardens, a pinetum and pleasure grounds with shrubberies and mature conifers date from the 19th century.

History

The designed landscape was probably first laid out at the time of the monastery, which was disbanded in the late-16th century. After 18th-century alterations the park and policies were laid out in the first half of the 19th century. Recent changes include the addition of the race course, several plantations and a range of facilities for visitors.

Visitor Facilities

The site is open daily from April to October. The grounds only are open on Fridays between November and March.

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

Scone Palace is situated off the A93 just to the east of the village of old Scone some 2 miles (3km) north-east of Perth. It lies on the gently rising banks east of the River Tay. The river borders the designed landscape on the western side. The policies extend across the A93 to the A94 which runs along the eastern boundary. To the north, the boundary runs from Highfield down the Langedge Burn to the River at Waulkmill. The rich alluvial valley provides a rather light soil with a moist subsoil. The annual rainfall is fairly low, generally about 28.5". Perth lies on the western bank of the river opposite Scone Palace and in recent years the town has spread northwards encroaching into the views. The town of New Scone lies at the eastern edge of the policies and farmland extends to the northern boundary.

From the Palace, there are long views north-west towards the Grampian Hills, west to the Logiealmond range and north to the Forest of Clunie. There are shorter views to the south- west over the parkland trees to the church spires of Perth and to the Ochil Hills beyond. The wide panoramic views facing west were used in the designed landscape in that some were picked out and deliberately framed by trees. Scone Park slopes gently towards the river, so that when it is viewed from Perth most of its layout can be clearly seen. If the town continues to expand, the green open space of Scone park will become even more important than it is today. Glimpses of the park can be seen from the A93(T), and more views of the policies add variety to the surrounding scenery from the A94(T).

Scone Palace lies in the middle of the western half of the policies overlooking the River Tay. On General Roy's plan, dated c. 1750, Scone is shown with a small plantation of woodland to the south, and the Old Palace has two enclosures to the east of it. Both features are enclosed by a double line of trees planted in a generous rectangle.

In the early 19th century the policies were laid out and, on the 1st edition OS plan of 1864, the scale and size of the planting can be seen. The extent of the designed landscape has not changed since then, but the boundaries of the plantations have altered in some areas. Today the designed landscape extends to an area of some 2,007 acres (812ha). Research into the family papers has not been undertaken for this study.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Scone Palace, listed category A, was built by William Atkinson between 1803-12. The few remains of the old walls of the original Palace were incorporated into it. The New Palace is a gothic asymmetrical two-storey building with castellations and two five-storey towers. The Terraces, their crenellated walls and the two bastions were completed by 1841 and are listed with the New Palace. The Mortuary Chapel or Mausoleum on Boot Hill or (Moot Hill), listed category A, was partially demolished in 1784 and remodelled in 1807 by W. Atkinson. It was refurbished in about 1909. The Gateway and Boundary Wall, listed category B, were built between 1580 and 1600 and are remnants of the Old Palace. It is said that when the Terraces were made, several medieval fragments including a stone coffin were found. These artefacts have been distributed around the garden and are all listed category B as a group. The Cross of Old Scone, listed category A, is an octagonal medieval Town Cross. The Stables, listed category B, were built by Atkinson in 1810. The Walled Kitchen Garden and the demolished Conservatories are attributed to Atkinson in the Gardeners' Chronicle dated 1866. The western Queen's Bridge over Friar's Den on Queen's Drive is listed category B and was probably designed by William Atkinson, between 1803-1812. The eastern Bridge which could have been built in the mid-18th century is also listed category B. Old Scone Lodge and South Lodge are early 19th century and mark the entrances to the drives. The Home Farm is called Balboughty Farm and is listed category B. It was built between 1858 and 1861 by John MacDonald in an Italian Style and included a separate dairy and a 'poultry house'.

Parkland

The park was originally laid out between c.1790 and 1812. Thomas White Snr was asked to redesign it and in order to implement his scheme, he felled many of the very old oak trees. The 2nd Earl was so annoyed at this time that J.C. Loudon was asked to prepare other proposals. His two plans are still at the Palace but neither of them were fully carried out. As Atkinson was a noted gardener as well as a noted architect, it seems likely that he too may have had some involvement in laying out the grounds. In 1885 an article in the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener praises the park and describes the 'magnificent trees, many of which are monuments of past ages'. The park today stretches in a sweeping curve to the south and west of the Palace, continuing in the southern section onto the eastern side of the A93(T). Loudon's plan proposed the removal of this road, recommending that it should be diverted to the A94. Even in the mid-19th century, removal of the road was still being discussed but in fact this was never carried out. East of the A93, remnants of the policy planting can still be seen in Winding Hill Park where the few individual oak, beech and lime remain, suggesting that it was once laid out as parkland. Scone Wood is enclosed by the park and a woodland strip runs along Annaty Burn into the eastern park. It includes several winding walks. It is said that the pasture adjoining the A93 was not ploughed during World War II because there were too many trees in it, but now many of them have gone. On the west side of the A93, Scone Park runs down to the River Tay and includes Chapel Hill and Sparrow Muir. Few fences interrupt the open pasture grazed by cattle and sheep. The OS plan of 1864 shows this area covered with individual trees planted in a manner reminiscent of a deer park. Today, there are far fewer specimens but the park is still well covered with trees, mainly oak, beech, lime, sweet chestnut and several copper beech. In the 1960s a new plantation of mixed hardwood and softwood and a stand of poplar were planted to screen the encroaching developments of Perth. The lower drive clearly shown on Loudon's plans can still be traced, bordered by several large trees, probably planted in the mid-18th century. Most of the other trees and clumps were probably planted between 1800 and 1840. To the north of the Palace and Scone Wood, the policies stretch in a broad band from the river to New Scone and are enclosed by woodland belts. They include the site of a Roman Camp and are used for agriculture.

Woodland

Scone Wood is a large plantation which lies between the Palace and New Scone. In the 17th century, it was originally planted with hardwoods but today mainly grows conifers planted for commercial production with some hardwoods left along the outside edges. Highfield Plantation, another large wood in which conifers are growing, lies to the north-east, while on the northern boundary lies Drumshogle Wood which is planted along the steeper banks of the Gelly Burn. Sherriffton Wood is now planted with conifers. Coney Bank is planted with mixed hardwoods. Within Old Coney Bank, there were two curling ponds. According to the 1886 Gardeners' Chronicle article, one pond was used for outdoor billiards and the other for curling. The trees in Dairy Wood provide shelter for the Home Farm. In the 1800s, other narrow woodland strips were planted along the steeper banks of the burns. Some of these remain and still contain some fine broadleaved trees. In the 19th century, many of these woodland strips had attractive walks running through them. One of these walks is described in the 1886 article as winding along Cramock Burn to Balboughty Farm. It also says that 'miles of other walks are judiciously led through these magnificent grounds'. Friar's Den is a small, deep woodland valley just to the south of the Palace. Early in the 19th century, winding paths were cut out of the banks and several ornamental trees and shrubs, including box and Rhododendrons, were planted. The paths now lead through the picturesque ravine to a wooden bridge.

Water Features

To the south of the pinetum lie several small ponds made out of the Catmoor Burn. They have recently been cleaned out and many different varieties of weeping trees planted around them. The old curling pond on the Stormontfield road has been cleaned out and made into a pond. Two new ponds have been created opposite, on the west side of the road.

The Gardens

This area lies to the east of the Palace and includes the ruins of the old village of Scone, the monastery, the outer walls of the Old Palace and the old graveyard. The latter is still maintained by the Local Council. The drive from Old Scone Lodge runs through a fine straight avenue of limes leading to the old Abbey gateway and lining up with the front door of the New Palace. Some of the limes along the old drive have been replanted and these, with other ornamental trees, serve to screen the stables. Once through the gateway, a new lawn has been created on the south side where several elm trees were felled following Dutch Elm disease. On the north side the chapel is guarded by three very large cedars of Lebanon standing on Moot or Boot Hill overlooking the New Palace. The Moot Hill is where many of the early Kings of Scotland were crowned on the famed Stone of Scone. On the southern side of the avenue, the pleasure grounds or shrubberies were laid out in the 1820s. During the improvements, the top of the graveyard wall was castellated. The shrubbery was planted with rhododendrons, some yew and laurel, and through them were paths which ran along on top of formal raised banks. This layout is similar to the proposals shown on Loudon's plan and the planting represented many of the ideas described in his books. Today the rhododendrons are huge and tall Douglas firs, grown from the original consignment of seed from David Douglas, tower over them. To the south-east, part of the old shrubbery has been cleared and recently some shrub roses, azaleas and other shrubs have been planted to supplement the original Douglas introductions. Further east, there are plantings from c.1800 which incorporate a Laburnum Walk.

The terraces of the Terrace Garden were built by Atkinson and were completed in about 1841. The crenellated walls run from the shrubbery walk to the wrought-iron gates, marking the entrance of the south drive, and along to the bastion standing at the south-east corner. From the bastion, along the west side of the Palace, it becomes a high retaining wall. As the slope here was so steep, three terraces were constructed including one with a small retaining wall and steep bank which lines up with the western facade of the Palace. The banks and terraces were formed around several special commemorative trees, including an enormous lime whose lower branches have layered, creating a vast skirt around the tree, and also a large sycamore said to have been planted by James V. The James VII Oak stands just to the west of the wall in the park and, near it, there is a site of another planted by Mary, Queen of Scots. on the terraces to the south and east of the New Palace, the wide lawns are dissected by tarmac paths. A narrow herbaceous border runs along the west side of the Palace in the private garden which, according to the 19th century descriptions, was formerly a flower garden; now it contains a tennis court and swimming pool and several colourful borders.

Walled Garden

The brick walled gardens lie just to the north of the pinetum and south from the entrance from old Scone. They are reputed to have been constructed by William Atkinson in about 1807 and the conservatories were also erected at that tune. The 1886 Gardeners' Chronicle article goes on to describe the quantity and range of fruit and vegetables growing in the gardens. Until recently, the gardens were worked as a nursery by two Polish refugees who calm to Scone during World War II. In a smaller area next to the walled garden, a vegetable, flower and fruit garden grows produce for the family and a small greenhouse is used for house plants and propagating.

Arboretum

In 1848 the 3rd Earl began planting the pinetum. Each conifer was planted in a row according either to genus or country of origin. Throughout the 19th century, a number of articles praised both the range and growth rate of these trees and records still exist of the plantings. In 1970 Alan Mitchell measured over 48 conifers of 37 different species, all of which were planted before 1860, including some of the original introductions. Several of the Douglas firs grow well but other conifers have not done so well and several have been replaced or removed. A small plantation of Norway spruce has recently been felled to allow for a new extension of the pinetum to the north. Species planted were supplied by John Horsman and some reproduced the original plantings which have failed.

Features
  • Palace (featured building)
  • Description: The 19th-century building incorporates remnants of the original palace. The New Palace is a gothic asymmetrical two-storey building with castellations and two five-storey towers.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Hedge
  • Maze
  • Description: Twentieth-century maze designed by Adrian Fisher.
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: Pinetum.
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  • Pavilion
  • Description: Plant hunters' pavilion.
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The site is open daily from April to October. The grounds only are open on Fridays between November and March.

Directions

Scone Palace is situated 2 miles from Perth. For details see: http://scone-palace.co.uk/contact
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

One of the Scotland's finest and oldest designed landscapes, showing the work of several different designers, and containing the category A listed Scone Palace. The pinetum contains specimen trees grown from seed collected by David Douglas.Site History

Scone has a long history having been a royal residence before 843. The Stone of Scone was brought here in about 838 and removed by Edward I in 1296. Early in the 12th century the monastery of Culdees was founded on the site and, in the late 16th century, it was sacked and burnt by followers of John Knox. Scone continued as a royal residence until, in 1604, James VI(I) gave the ruins and the estate to one of his closest aides, Sir David Murray, who was also created the 1st Lord Stormont. Today, the ancient gateway of the Abbey, the Moot Hill mound, various walls and the enclosed burial ground still remain as evidence of this period. In the late 19th century, several vast trees were thought to have survived from this time, including a 16th century sycamore planted by Mary, Queen of Scots, and an enormous wild cherry thought to have been part of the monastery orchard. Both of these trees have now gone.

In 1651, during the Civil War, Charles II was crowned at Scone. The Murrays were always staunch Jacobites and vigorously opposed the Treaty of Union. In 1715 and 1745, the Stuart Princes stayed at Scone and both their hosts, the 5th and 6th Viscounts Stormont, were imprisoned for receiving them. The family fortunes changed for the better, when the 6th Viscount's brother, William, became, as the guide quotes, 'the greatest lawyer of all time'. He was created Earl of Mansfield in Nottingham and Earl of Mansfield in Middlesex. His nephew David, eldest son of William's eldest brother, inherited the Middlesex title. David's wife inherited the Nottingham title. She in turn outlived their eldest son, who had inherited his father's title, and their grandson inherited both titles and became the 4th and 3rd Earl of Mansfield and Mansfield.

In the late 18th century the 2nd Earl of Mansfield was a brilliant diplomat and politician and, during one of his absences abroad, he commissioned Thomas White Snr 'to embellish the estate, but (according to Thomas Hunter in 1883) his idea of 'embellishment was closely allied to Vandalism, as he executed his commission by cutting down most of the old oak on the property'. Hunter also noted that there were no oak trees left when he visited the estate, some 70 years later. The 2nd Earl started planting to replace those trees and his son, David, the 3rd Earl of Mansfield, is said to have planted over 2,863,000 trees. His work is described in detail in an article published in the Gardeners' Chronicle in 1866.

In 1803 the 3rd Earl commissioned William Atkinson to design and build a new gothic palace. In about 1804, John Claudius Loudon prepared two plans for laying out the park and gardens and he proposed moving the village of old Scone as well as moving the main road, now the A93. The village was removed to New Scone but the road was never diverted through the new village. The original road to the Old Palace ran through the park and entered the Palace gates near to the graveyard. This had been removed by the 19th century.

Comparison of the plans with the 1864 OS plan suggests that some of Loudon's ideas were carried out. The 1866 Gardeners' Chronicle article attributes many of the landscape buildings to Atkinson including the bridges over the drive, the kitchen garden and its conservatories. Colvin notes that one of Atkinson's 'favourite pursuits was horticulture and planting on a large scale' and with this interest it is probable that Atkinson influenced the design of the gardens and park to some extent (A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects). The 1866 article attributes the laying out of the gardens and park to the superintendent, Mr Beattie, who was acknowledged as an 'eminent planter, cultivator, and landscape gardener'. He worked at Scone between 1803 and 1837 and is said to have written about his interest in the Horticultural Societies Journals.

In 1842 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert paid a visit to Scone. A new drive was constructed and the gardens smartened up for this special occasion. A magnificent avenue of copper beech was also planted on the road north to Stormontfield. Throughout the 19th century, ornamental trees, especially conifers, were extensively planted and the pinetum was laid out in 1848. Some of the earliest Douglas fir were raised from seed sent by David Douglas whose father was head stonemason at Scone. Many of the trees and shrubs were mentioned in several contemporary articles and the fruit, flowers and vegetables growing in the kitchen garden were also described in detail.

Several changes took place after the 3rd edition OS plan, dated c.1920, and the Perth Hunt Racecourse was added in the north-west corner of the park. In the 1960s a new plantation was also added in Scone park to the west of the Palace, to screen the new developments of Perth. Also in the 1960s, the Palace and Gardens were opened to the public. They have since been enjoyed by a considerable number of people.

Period

  • Late 18th Century
Associated People
Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland