This incredible architectural “folly”, in the shape of a pineapple, was one of our big “coups de coeur” in Scotland.
The Dunmore Pineapple is situated about one kilometre northwest of Airth and the same distance south of Dunmore in the Falkirk council area. We visited it on 25 July 2007. We were then based in Edinburgh campsite, a nice green place from which we could easily tour in and around the beautiful Scottish capital. That summer day was full of promises, the weather was not so bad and we had planned to visit a number of very interesting places, some of them listed on our Historic Scotland Explorer and National Trust passes. Next time we go to Scotland we’ll have to buy only one pass for “The National Trust for Scotland has joined forces with Historic Scotland and nine Discovering Distilleries sites to create the Scottish Heritage Pass.” GREAT! I hope we’ll still be able to have our “passports” stamped with beautiful pictures of the places visited as we used to in our previous trips. We love collecting them.
So, in that beautiful summer day we intended to visit not less than Linlithgow Palace (HS), Blackness Castle (HS), Dunmore Pineapple (NTS and Landmark Trust) and last but not least the famous ‘Falkirk Wheel’.
Let us enter the magnificent Dunmore Park now. We happened to be alone on the site when we visited it at about 17:30 but then we could only visit the exterior of the Pineapple and the gardens. It was a feast and we came back with unforgettable memories of this garden of Eden!
The Dunmore Pineapple is an extraordinary architectural folly standing amidst wonderful walled gardens. As you linger there, along the colourful mixed borders, admiring the architectural “prouesse” of the building you feel as if walking on a thick green carpet!
In July there are many flowers in bloom growing along the old red brick walls. We looked with amazement at the great diversity of colourful flowers: climbing roses, white, pink, mauve poppies, prickly emblematic thistles, passion fruit flowers, sweet peas, daisies, cornflowers. Don’t forget your pocket flower guide when you go there, nor your camera of course!
Built in 1761, for John Murray, the 4th Earl of Dunmore, by an unknown architect though some people attribute it to Sir William Chambers, a Scottish architect, this stunning “folly” was offered by John Murray to his wife Charlotte, as a birthday present. That was certainly a priceless and unique present to offer! From the windows of this two-storey garden house the lady had a view onto Dunmore Park, the family estate.
John Murray 4th Earl Of Dunmore Joshua Reynolds
John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1730 –1809), generally known as Lord Dunmore, was a Scottish peer and colonial governor in the American colonies.Murray was named governor of the Province of New York in 1770, of Virginia the following year and of the Bahama Islands from 1787 to 1796. Dunmore was the last royal governor of Virginia.
Murray was born in Tymouth, Scotland. He was the eldest son of William Murray, 3rd Earl of Dunmore, and his wife, Catherine (née Murray); he was a nephew of John Murray, 2nd Earl of Dunmore. In 1745 William Murray and son, John (then only 15), joined the ill-fated campaign of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” (Charles Edward Stuart). Young Murray was appointed a page to Prince Charles. The second Earl, his uncle, remained with the Hanoverian regime.
After the Jacobite army was defeated at Culloden (1746), the Murray family was put under house arrest, and the patriarch, William, was imprisoned in the Tower. By 1750, William had received a conditional pardon. John was now 20, and joined the British Army. In 1756, after the deaths of his uncle and father, Murray became the fourth Earl of Dunmore.
Dunmore married Lady Charlotte, daughter of Alexander Stewart, 6th Earl of Galloway, in 1759. Their daughter, Lady Augusta Murray, was a daughter-in-law of King George III. The Dunmores had another daughter close to her age, Lady Catherine Murray, and soon after they landed in Virginia, they had another child, Lady Virginia Murray.
In the 18th century ornamental buildings called ‘follies’ such as neo-gothic buildings like Abbotsford, classical temples like Edinburgh’s “Parthenon” or Oban’s “colyseum”, flourished everywhere but the Dunmore Pineapple is quite unique even if the growing of pineapples in greenhouses and the use of the motif of this exotic fruit in architecture was very fashionable since the introduction of the pineapple in Britain, at the time of Charles II.
Dunmore Park, the ancestral home of the Earls of Dunmore, includes a large country mansion, Dunmore House,and grounds which contain, among other things, two large walled gardens. Walled gardens were a necessity for any great house in a northern climate in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, as a high wall of stone or brick helped to shelter the garden from wind and frost, and could create a microclimate in which the ambient temperature could be raised several degrees above that of the surrounding landscape. This allowed the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, and also of ornamental plants, which could not otherwise survive that far north.
The larger of the two gardens covers about six acres, located on a gentle south-facing slope. South-facing slopes are the ideal spot for walled gardens and for the cultivation of frost-sensitive plants. Along the north edge of the garden, the slope had probably originally been more steep. To allow both the upper and lower parts of the garden to be flat and level at different heights, it was necessary to bank up the earth on the higher northern side (away from the main house), behind a retaining wall about 16 feet high, and a solid 3 feet, 3 inches thick, which runs the entire length of the north side of the garden.
Walled gardens sometimes included one hollow, or double, wall which contained furnaces, openings along the side facing the garden to allow heat to escape into the garden, and chimneys or flues to draw the smoke upwards. This particularly benefited fruit trees or grape vines that could, if grown within a few feet of a heated, south-facing wall, be grown even further north than the microclimate created by a walled garden would normally allow.
A building containing a hothouse was built into this wall in 1761 by John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore. The hothouse, which was located in the ground floor of the building, was used, among other things, for growing pineapples. The south-facing ground floor, which is now covered in stucco and largely overgrown with vines, was originally covered with glass windowpanes. Additional heat was provided by a furnace-driven heating system that circulated hot air through cavities in the wall construction of the adjoining hothouse buildings. The smoke from the furnace was expelled through four chimneys, cleverly disguised as Grecian urns. The upper floor, which is at ground level when approached from the raised northern lawn, contained two small cottage-like apartments, or “bothies”, for the gardeners.
Murray left Scotland after the initial structure had been built, and went on to become Colonial Governor of Virginia in America. The upper-floor pavilion or summerhouse with its pineapple-shaped cupola and the Palladian lower-floor portico on the south side were added after Murray’s return from Virginia.
‘By 1970 the garden had become overgrown and, although the stonework of the Pineapple was intact, adjacent buildings were in danger of collapse. In 1974 the Countess of Perth gifted the building, together with its gardens and policies to the National Trust for Scotland. Acceptance was made possible by the cooperation of Landmark Trust which restored the buildings. These are now leased throughout the year for holiday accommodation.’
The atmosphere of this magnificent garden was so peaceful that we would have liked to stay longer there. Indeed, it’s quite possible to spend a holiday in this magical place for ‘The Pineapple presides over an immense walled garden open to visitors, while at the back is a private garden for those staying, with steps leading into the elegant room inside The Pineapple itself.’
The first thing that came to my mind was the blue tartan rug layed upon the corridors leading us through oddly-angled rooms and appartements when we visited the mysterious Cawdor Castle, which dates back to the late 14th century.
Cawdor Castle is set amid gardens in the parish of Cawdor, approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Inverness and 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Nairn in Scotland. The castle is built around a 15th-century tower house, with substantial additions in later centuries. Originally a property of the Clan Calder, it passed to the Campbells in the 16th century. It remains in Campbell ownership, and is now home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor, stepmother of Colin Campbell, 7th Earl Cawdor.
The castle is perhaps best known for its literary connection to William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, in which the title character is made “Thane of Cawdor“. However, the story is highly fictionalised, and the castle itself, which is never directly referred to in Macbeth, was built many years after the life of the 11th-century King Macbeth.
” (…) This expansive corner of Scotland is known simply as Cawdor. It is an 80-square-mile estate that has belonged to the Thanes of Cawdor and their family since the 13th century. Today, the property is in the nurturing hands of the seventh Earl of Cawdor and 25th Thane, Colin, and his wife, Isabella, who moved into the valley shortly after they married in 1994.
Since then, they have transformed what was once a lonely and slightly neglected place into a magical and lively spot (…) The cottage has now been expanded to become the family’s nine-bedroom house. Drynachan Lodge, which was built in 1820 and added to over the next 100 years, is about 1,000 yards up the valley from Carnoch, and is where shooting parties stay.
But perhaps the most charming lodging is a tree house that Colin built for their four children (Jean, 14, James, 13, Eleanor, 11, and Beatrice, 7) amongst a clutch of alder trees on the riverbank.
The trees grow through the house, which is built entirely from reclaimed windows and doors found in cottages on the estate, and the roof is tiled in Canadian cedar shingles, giving it an almost Mad Hatter–ish look.
Colin, who trained as an architect, built it between 2003 and 2005. At the time, he was commuting to London during the week to work at Odey Asset Management as an analyst. The tree house was a way for him to reconnect to the land and his young family.
In 2006, he left finance to give his full attention to the estate. “I loved Odey, I absolutely loved it, but I succumbed to the siren call of the highlands,” says Colin. (…)
“What they have managed to do in this ancient, timeless place is to make it present in a way that means it is actually possible to dive into the landscape and actively take a part in it—the river up to your hip, the heather bouncing you about the hill, the practical wilderness in your own hand,” says Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, the Cawdors’ friend and neighbor.
So many estates have had to look at very public ways of bringing in revenue to keep them afloat: concerts, festivals, even zoos. The glorious thing about Cawdor is that the family has simply capitalized on what they have always had and run it along very traditional lines. Today, there is a young spirit to the land, which teems with youthful keepers and their families. With sheep roaming on the moor, partridges flying in vast skies overhead and shots heard in the distance from time to time, the landscape has changed little in its 800 years. The couple have been wise to choose the Drynachan Valley as their home, their children growing up in this idyllic place, contributing to its regeneration. “Colin and Isabella’s curatorship of that land is a profound achievement,” Swinton says. “There is magic in that valley. It’s impossible not to taste it.”
Her father Hugh, 25th Thane of Cawdor, sunking into madness with self-destructive behavior took her from an idyllic fairytale childhood to a nightmare.
I find it very courageous on her part to have written this memoir…
Liza Campbell (born 24 September 1959 as Lady Elizabeth Campbell), is an artist, calligrapher, columnist and writer, born in the north of Scotland and currently living in London, England.
She is the second daughter of Hugh Campbell, 6th Earl Cawdor (1932–1993) by his first wife, the former Cathryn Hinde and the last child of an Earl Cawdor to have been born at Cawdor Castle, which has previously been erroneously associated with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (Her older sister Lady Emma Campbell was also born there, but her brothers and younger sister were born elsewhere, as were the children of the present Earl.)
Campbell was raised in Cawdor Castle during the Sixties, and studied art at Chelsea. She lived in Mauritius, Kenya (Nairobi) and in Indonesia between 1990 and 1996.
As an artist, Liza Campbell worked in an art gallery, and has had exhibitions of engraved soapstone at All Saints Gallery, Babbington House and the Sladmore Gallery. More recently, she has shown collages at the Michael Naimski Gallery.
For four years, from 2000, she wrote a back page column Adventures of a Past It Girl.
Campbell was the second of five children, and the second daughter of three daughters. Her parents divorced in 1979 after 22 years of marriage.
In 1990, she married William Robert Charles “Willie” Athill, a big-game fisherman, with whom she lived on a desert island for two years. By that marriage, she has two children, a daughter Storm (b. 1990) and a son Atticus (b. 1992).She is now divorced from Athill, the marriage having broken down in 1993.
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