Wedderburn 3449

Duns, Scotland

Brief Description

Wedderburn Castle is surrounded by 18th-century parkland. The structure of a formal terraced layout from the same period survives around the house.

History

Wedderburn Castle has been associated with the Home family for almost 600 years. The designed landscape at Wedderburn was laid out in the late-18th century, following the alterations to the house by James and Robert Adam between 1770 and 1778. The house is currently available for exclusive rental accommodation and self-catering.

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

A late 18th-century estate with striking estate architecture developed on the site of an older tower house.Location and Setting

Wedderburn lies within the agricultural heartland of the Berwickshire Merse. Located less than 2 miles (3km) to the south east of Duns, the designed landscape is bounded by distinctive policy walls and by minor roads to the north and west. Drained by Langton Burn, a tributary of the Blackadder Water, the policies occupy low-lying ground typical of the wider landscape, which is characterised by open views, arable farmland and the undulations of drumlins, (elongated ridges of glacial drift). Wedderburn Castle stands at the centre of the policies and, together with the near-continuous line of the late 18th-century boundary walls, forms a striking landmark from certain local vantage points. Apart from the core area around the house, land use within the policies is primarily arable farming. The designed landscape encompasses a total area of 152ha (376ac).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Wedderburn Castle is a large, classical-style, 3-storey castellated mansion built on the site of an older tower house in 1770-6. The principal west front, designed by Robert and James Adam, features a 4-storey centrepiece. The house was built around an inner courtyard, with the north and south ranges executed by James Nisbet. Four-storey, octagonal towers project from each corner. Only fragments of the 15th-century tower house, demolished in the early 19th century, survive in the rear walls of the south and west ranges. At the main entrance, the impressive, Neo-classical, round-arched Lion Gate, with pediment and recumbent coade-stone lion, was designed by John Plaw in 1790 and completed by 1794. Ornamental iron gates lead onto the drive, while curving quadrant walls link the archway to sentry-box pavilions. Enclosing the policies over a distance of c.5.6km, the tall, harl-pointed, rubble boundary wall forms an unusual and prominent feature in the landscape. Built in c.1780, the ashlar-coped wall bridges the Langton Burn and dips at certain, strategic points to afford views into, and out of, the policies. The arched west gate, flanked by single-storey lodges constructed between the late 18th and early 19th centuries, provides another point of access. To the north west of the castle, the mostly later 18th century stable block comprises two adjacent, quadrangular courts designed to incorporate stabling, hay barns, cart and coach sheds and a coachman's house. A walled garden enclosure of similar date adjoins the boundary wall by the west gate and features tall coped rubble walls with inner brick lining on the south-facing wall. Sturdy sets of cylindrical stone gatepiers mark former entrance points to parks and fields around Wedderburn Castle, while a deep ha ha separates its immediate grounds from the parkland beyond.

Drives and Approaches

Both drives in use today follow routes established by the late 18th century. Lined by mature hedgerows, the principal drive enters from the north via the Lion gate and follows a direct, straight line towards the stables and woodlands around the castle. At this point, it converges with the west drive, which traverses a slightly more circuitous route from the west gate and lodges, past woods and fields. A short, curving length of drive through mature trees and shrubs provides the final approach to Wedderburn Castle.

Parkland

A small area of parkland extends to the south and west of the castle. Although now much reduced in extent and quantity of trees compared with the designed landscape of the 19th and earlier 20th century, some attractive veteran broadleaves remain standing. Younger specimens planted in recent years, including Wellingtonia and red oak, will eventually take their place, while two new parallel avenues of lime trees, planted in the 1990s between the castle and Langton Burn to the south east, will prove a significant addition as the trees mature. A small rubble enclosure in a field near the burn, nearly 500m to the south-east of the Castle is the supposed burial ground of George Home (d.1497).

A substantial ha ha, partially re-dug and restored in recent years, encloses the grounds immediately around the castle. Its unusual and irregular circuit includes a rounded protrusion in the south-west corner designed perhaps to mimic the projecting octagonal towers of the castle. If pertaining to a design stage, a pencil outline of this circuit sketched onto an ink and watercolour plan dated 1797, helps to date its conception and indicates that along with the interior decoration and furnishing of the castle, some key landscaping works post-dated the original building project by a couple of decades (NAS RHP14780). Meanwhile, the extension of the terrace area to the west of the house sometime in the second half of the 19th century created a larger area of lawn from where the principal front of the house could be admired. A sole veteran crab apple may be a survivor of the Victorian garden, while photographs of the 1950s and 60s show neat rectangular rose and flower beds lining this area. Today, this space consists of a simple lawn enclosed by two large rectangular circuits of beech hedging, the inner one punctuated by subtle curving flourishes that echo the form of both the castle towers and the ha ha.

Woodland

There are relatively few woodlands within the policies. Most that do exist were originally planted in the late 18th and early 19th centuries for shelter, game-cover and to grace the approaches to the house. Presently, after some years of neglect, the amount of tree cover is gradually increasing as a result of renewed planting and woodland management projects. The principal area of mature woods lies at the centre of the designed landscape. Featuring rhododendron and veteran specimens of oak, beech and Scots pine, the attractive, mixed canopy frames Wedderburn Castle when viewed from the south and east. Via the line of the west drive, these woods connect up with another area of mature trees around the stables that may originally have been planted up as a shrubbery. New triangular plantations and a young shelterbelt of conifer, sycamore and birch will eventually serve to seclude the parkland area around the castle from the surrounding cereal fields. Meanwhile, efforts have also focused on restoring the woods and planted avenue around the west gate and along the drive; features certainly in place by the 1st edition Ordnance Survey of the area (1855-7 OS).

Walled Garden

The walled enclosure at the western edge of the policies was built towards the end of the 18th century, and was referred to as the 'New Garden' in contemporary plans and estate memoranda books (NAS GD267/7/26). Occasional references to an 'Old Garden' in these books suggest a former kitchen garden, the site of which is uncertain (although the label 'North Garden Park' on a plan dated 1797 may indicate a possible location somewhere in the vicinity of the Castle and stable block, (NAS RHP14780). The original design featured perimeter and intersecting gravel walks that divided the garden into quadrants. Borders along the walls were meant for kitchen produce, while in 1797 at least, the quadrants were used for hay for the cows and horses (NAS GD267/7/17). Cartographic evidence suggests this original arrangement did not endure. Ordnance Survey maps from 1855-7 onwards reveal no interior detail apart from the northern half of the perimeter walk. Today, the enclosed ground, which slopes gently towards the south, has long been used for grazing, although some fruit trees still grow on the walls.

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Wedderburn Castle is a large, classical-style, 3-storey castellated mansion built on the site of an older tower house in 1770-6. The principal west front, designed by Robert and James Adam, features a 4-storey centrepiece.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Garden Terrace
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

Parks and mature woodland form an attractive setting for Wedderburn Castle. The castle, distinctive lion gate and high policy walls, are notable for their architectural merit and form prominent landmarks in the surrounding lowland landscape.Type of Site

A late 18th-century estate with striking estate architecture developed on the site of an older tower house.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

1770s-1790s, 1820s

Site History

Wedderburn has remained under the ownership of the Home family since the 15th century. The present designed landscape, however, can be attributed to building and improvement projects of the later 18th century when the period of conflict and loss suffered by previous generations had passed. The participation of George Home in the Jacobite uprising of 1715 had proved one of the last crisis points of that era. Wedderburn, along with other family lands, had suffered forfeiture and was saved only through the intervention of a kinsman, Reverend Ninian Home of Billie. Ninian succeeded in both entailing the property back to George's descendents and, after marrying the eldest daughter, in fathering the next heir, Patrick Home (1728-1809).

Patrick was involved in the construction of two Berwickshire country estates; Paxton (q.v.) and Wedderburn. It is likely that he never possessed a keen interest in the details of building work, but the circumstances behind the development of Paxton almost certainly diminished Patrick's appetite for close involvement even further. Following the failure of his hoped-for marriage, Patrick sold Paxton, instigated the new building project at Wedderburn, delegated its management to nephew and first cousin, George Home, and promptly left for an extended Grand Tour of continental Europe.

Prior to the new work, the long-established family estate of Wedderburn had centred on a fortified tower house, built in the 15th century and which, according to Roy's Military Survey, was surrounded by regular, enclosed fields by the mid-18th century. Initial efforts focused on the construction of a new and more comfortable residence, with Robert and James Adam providing designs for the plan and elevations in 1768-9. George Home was a capable agent for Patrick and sent detailed letters on the minutiae of the works which continued until 1777 when Patrick, following a further unlucky liaison and marriage, returned to Wedderburn alone to oversee the slowly progressing development of his estate and, later, to serve as MP for Berwickshire from 1784-96.

Surviving maps and historical records document successive phases of improvement. By the close of the 18th century, most of the key estate buildings were complete, including the stables, walled garden, an impressive entrance gate and high policy walls. Notes from estate workers folded up in Patrick's pocket-book of memoranda provide brief details on the crops and grazing of the productive estate and the planting of the original Wedderburn woodlands (NAS GD267/7/17). A short memo dated 1797 from one individual, for example, records how he planted 70 beech, 70 oak and 70 elm in the north plantation, but that the south side of the east plantation was very wet, and would do best with oak and ash.

Following Patrick's death in 1808, Wedderburn passed to his younger brother, then sister, and then briefly to his former delegate, George, until 1820, when more distant relations, John and William Foreman Home inherited both Paxton and Wedderburn. The Foreman Homes instigated further architectural changes to the house, including the removal of surviving portions of the tower house, but otherwise, the designed landscape did not undergo any further radical change.

By the start of the 20th century, the original parkland specimens and plantations would have reached an attractive maturity, and were complemented by typical Victorian additions such as rhododendrons, conifer specimens and flower beds. In 1901, diamond-shaped clumps of yellow primroses grew along an avenue of beech (Milne Home 1901: 82). Succeeding decades brought change, however. Wedderburn Castle was commandeered as a naval hospital during the Second World War, while in the latter half of the 20th century, parts of the estate were sold, with some former parkland converted to cereal fields. The core areas, however, remain under the ownership of the Home family and Wedderburn Castle is now promoted as a venue for weddings and conferences, while some former estate buildings have been renovated to provide holiday accommodation. Currently, projects to restore some of the lost trees and woodland are beginning to make an impact in the surrounding grounds.

Period

  • Late 18th Century
  • 18th Century
Associated People

People associated to Wedderburn

Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Historic Scotland