Located in the most southerly part of Scotland, on the Machars peninsula adjacent to the Solway Firth, Galloway House and its policies represent one of the most significant and valuable designed landscapes in the south west of Scotland. It lies on the southern edge of the village of Garlieston, only 15 miles south off the A75 linking the M74/M6 to the Northern Ireland ferry ports of Stranraer and Cairnryan.
The landscape comprises of approximately 720 acres, 70 acres of which are owned by the Trust. The pattern of woodlands within the landscape, particularly those on the shoulder of Powton Hill and Cruggleton Woods in the south, contributes greatly to the surrounding landscape, as do the boundary walls of the estate. An important feature of the policies in the 1880s was the walk from Garlieston along the shoreline to Cruggleton Lodge taking in the magnificent views of the cliffs at the south eastern edge of the shore.
Today, although fragmented, the designed landscape is still clearly defined by the policy walls. Galloway House, now privately owned and occupied, remains at its heart.
Development of the designed landscape
- Built between 1740-42 the house and policy was constructed for Lord Alexander Garlies, later 6th Earl of Galloway. Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, uncle of Lord Garlies and author of a manuscript essay in rhyme ‘The Country Seat’, provided design advice. Clerk became an arbiter of taste in Scotland and championed the new informal landscape design. The ideal setting for a country house relaxed the old formal tradition without abandoning the rules and is still evident in the structure of the woodland garden today.
- Lord John Garlies, later 7th Earl of Galloway, was greatly influenced by the works of Capability Brown. The political ambitions of the 7th Earl ensured that the policy was developed in the English Landscape park style however, it also led to financial difficulties.
- George, 8th Earl of Galloway, inherited the title and debt in 1806 but continued to develop the policy including many of the existing walls and ’sunk fences’ or hahas.
- Randolph, 9th Earl of Galloway, initially resisted expenditure but by the early 1840’s embarked on considerable improvements including lodges, viewing tower, drives and planting typical of the picturesque style of the time.
- Alan, 10th Earl of Galloway and later his brother Randolph, 11th Earl of Galloway, appeared to make few changes to the layout of the policies, however, it was at this time that the garden achieved a reputation for fruit culture.
- Sold to Hon. Malcolm McEachran and inherited by Capt. Neil McEachran the garden was developed to hold a collection of tender trees and shrubs mainly from the Southern Hemisphere.
- From 1930 to the present day the exotic planting has continued. Edward Strutt retained the character of the gardens and established the existing Trust to maintain the woodland and walled gardens.
Assessment of significance
The Inventory of Designed Landscapes recognised Galloway House as having the following values:
|Work of art||High||The grandeur of the 18th and 19th century designed landscape gives Galloway House high value as a work of art although it is in poor condition today.|
|Historical||High||There has been extensive designed landscape at Galloway House since the early 18th century. Lord Garlies redesigned it in the mid-18th century and its long connection with the Earls of Galloway gives it high historical value.|
|Horticultural||High||The collection of trees and shrubs, particularly early hybrid rhododendron, gives Galloway House high horticultural value.|
|Scenic||High||The woodland canopy contributes to the surrounding countryside which is mainly rolling grassland and gives Galloway House high scenic value.|
|Nature conservation||Some||The woodland flora, especially under the 18th century trees in the woodland garden, gives this site some nature conservation value.|
A study conducted in conjunction with Solway Heritage concluded the following:
- The structure is an essential feature of the landscape and should be the foremost consideration for conservation. The structure includes the woodlands, parks and policies, and the features relating to them, i.e. paths, views, tree canopy boundary walls, etc.
- Within this structure, the extensive plant collection established earlier this century is of high value but much of this has been lost or may be reaching maturity. Careful consideration should be given to conserving it in the light of maintenance constraints.
- The walled garden is of considerable importance, owing not only to its place in the overall 18th century design but also to the presence of the early glasshouses. Through the work of James Day (head gardener 1880–1913), Galloway House was previously held in high regard for the quality of its fruit growing and, in particular, the Galloway Pippin apple.