The Walled Garden at House of the Binns

Brickwork within the walled gardenIn March 2019, AOC’s historic buildings recording team was commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) to undertake a measured survey and historic building survey of the walled garden to the south of House of the Binns near Linlithgow, West Lothian. 

The Binns estate features landscaped parkland with stunning views over the River Forth and has been home to the Dalyells for over 400 years. The present house was built in 1612 by Thomas Dalyell, an Edinburgh merchant who made his fortune at the court of King James VI and I in London.

The walled garden at House of the Binns was probably constructed in the late 18th or early 19th century to coincide with renovations to the house. It was placed on an area of sloping land to maximise sun exposure for the fruits and plants growing within and comprises a trapezoidal structure with stone rubble walls on all sides. This has been faced with red brick to the south elevation and also to the upper half of the interior north, east and west elevations, so that planters could be easily attached to the wall. The main access into the garden is through doorways to the north side of the east and west elevations, with a natural progression of movement from west to east, the pathways orientated around a central crossroads. A cart entrance also existed to the east side of the south elevation, although this has largely been rebuilt by the NTS in chisel-dressed stone and modern brick. Additional doorways were added at some point, possibly in the earlier 20th century as the function and layout of the garden and its associated buildings changed. A gardener’s cottage exists to the centre of the interior south elevation (below, centre), although now all of the buildings that were once located against the exterior south wall have been taken down and only a thick render on the brick wall indicates their former presence.

Views across the walled garden

Working with David Narro Associates, our survey identified that the cement render repair to the wallheads and capping stones has caused some deterioration of the brickwork to the upper parts of the wall. There are some rabbit infestations that have caused the undercutting of parts of the interior and trees along the north elevation and west elevation have also caused the dislodging of some of the capping stones.

AOC undertook a full measured survey of the walled garden, including external and internal elevations and floor plans, including a number of sections through the wall. The survey also included a detailed photographic and written record of the structure as a ‘point in time’ record. This information will eventually feed into any future plans for conservation, repair, renovation and rejuvenation of this important structure within the Binns Estate.