The History of the Garden
Drummond Castle Gardens is one of Europe's and Scotland's most important and impressive formal gardens. Located in Perthshire near Crieff, it dates back to the 17th Century. The gardens were redesigned and terraced in the 19th Century. The formal gradens that you see today were replanted in the 1950s but preserve many of the original features, the ancient yew hedges and the remaining beech tree planted by Queen Victoria, commemorating her visit in 1842. The Formal Gardens have featured in many films and adverts, most notably in the United Artist feature film Rob Roy. Visitors are welcome to visit the gardens, although the castle remains closed to the public.
Drummond Castle Gardens, Drummond, Perthshire, Scotland, Crieff, Gardens, Formal Gardens, Yew hedges, Formal Planting, Historic Gardens, Quenn Victoria, visitors, tourism, History, Film, Film location, Topiary, Acer, Maples, Sundial
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The History of the Garden


Drummond has all the characteristics of a courtly, 17th century Scottish Renaissance garden. It is a composite garden, restructured in early Victorian times and renewed again in the 20th century when the garden framework and the exceptional interest of the original 19th century design were carefully preserved.

Origins of the Garden

Drummond Castle was built on a rocky outcrop by John, 1st Lord Drummond around 1490. The 2nd Earl, a Privy Councillor to James VI and Charles I, succeeded in 1612 and is credited with transforming both the gardens and the castle between 1630-1636. The keep still stands but the rest of the castle was restored and largely remodelled by the 1st Earl of Ancaster in 1890.


Early records mention Lord Drummond sending cherries to James IV in 1508, when the monarch was hunting in nearby Glen Artney Forest. The 2nd Earl must have owned a significant garden and the presence of the sundial (installed in 1630) goes some way to confirmong this.


Towards the end of the 17th century the 4th Earl was credited with planning and beginning an avenue of four rows of trees from the castle to Perth, some 20 miles away! One of the gardeners employed at the time was John Reid, who later wrote The Scots Gard’ner, the first Scottish gardening book published in 1683.

17th to 19th centuries


The 2nd Duke of Perth’s involvement in the 1715 Jacobite Rising resulted in estate improvements being deferred until his son, the 3rd Duke, returned to Scotland. A ballad describes the gardens full of “evergreens and flowers…and the waterworks are a’ let on..” But the formal gardens were abandoned in 1745 following the annexation of the estate after the second Jacobite Rising.


Early in the 19th century, both the parterre and formal terracing in front of the castle were re-established under the ownership of Clementina Drummond and her husband Peter Robert Willoughby. This was principally the work of Lewis Kennedy. Kennedy’s family owned the Vineyard Nursery in Hammersmith, supplying plants to many of Britain’s finest gardens. Earlier in his career he had been a gardener at Malmaison in France in the employment of Empress Josephine.
Queen Victoria visited Drummond Castle in 1842, she and Prince Albert ‘walked in the garden which is really very fine, with terraces, like an old French garden’.

In the 20th Century


The interest in Drummond Gardens continued into the 20th century despite changing gardening tastes. After the Second World War, with a reduced workforce, the decision was taken to simplify the garden. This bold step was taken by Phyllis Astor, wife of the 3rd Earl of Ancaster.


A start was made to clear some of the ground, respecting significant features. Amongst these were the ancient yew hedges at either end of the terracing and paths, magnificent individual yews and the two copper beech trees planted by Queen Victoria to commemorate her visit.


In 1978, the family formed the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust to maintain the castle buildings, gardens and surrounding park for the benefit of future generations.


The gardens featured more recently in the United Artists film “Rob Roy”. As shown in the still from the movie featuring Liam Neeson, John Hurt and Tim Roth


Garden Design




From the east gateway on the Crieff Muthill road, visitors drive up the long beech avenue to the car park and then walk to the outer castle court. On passing into the inner courtyard and attaining the top of the terracing the full extent and majesty of the garden is suddenly revealed. The dominant feature of the parterre design is a St Andrew’s Cross with the multiplex 17th century sundial at its centre.


A strong north-south axis runs through the garden, down the impressive flight of steps to the sundial, through the classical archway and kitchen garden beyond, cutting a swathe through woodland before rising to the top of the opposing hillside. This idea of drawing the countryside into the garden is essentially French; however, Drummond is an eclectic garden and also rooted firmly in the Italian style with its fountains, terracing, urns and statuary.

Film and TV


Many people think that the gardens would make the perfect film set – and they would be right. Anyone who has seen Liam Neeson playing the part of Rob Roy in the movie of the same name will recognise the gardens owned in the film by Montrose.


Almost every calendar of Perthshire has featured the gardens at one time or another and businesses often ask permission to use the gardens as backdrops to their advertisements.


If you are looking for a suitable location for your next Hollywood blockbuster, contact us to find out how the gardens could help you add more drama to your production!